HADRON AGE SF (57)
February 4, 2023
One in a series of posts about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s Hadron Age Sci-Fi 75 list (a work in progress), click here.
Kameron Hurley’s The Stars are Legion (2017).
In this standalone, biopunk space opera novel with horror elements, the so-called Legion — a fleet of rotting, cephalopod-like world-ships — is traveling from no-one remembers where to nowhere in particular. Some of the world-ships have died; and a war for control of the others is raging. Zan, a fearsome warrior with the unique ability to board the Mokshi — the only ship able to leave the Legion and forge its own destiny — wakes up aboard the world-ship controlled by the Katazyrna clan. She has failed in her latest attempt to storm the Mokshi, and she’s been “recycled” within the womb-like inner recesses of the Katazyrna ship. In the process, she’s lost her memory. Zan’s sister, Jayd (who has some POV chapters), and her mother, Anat, the brutal Katazyrna leader, want to send her back out again. After a lot of violence and gore, Zan finds herself in the very depths of the Katazyrna ship, from where she must make a Night Land-like odyssey back to the control room… gathering misfit, unreliable companions on the way. Here we encounter buildings of bone and sinew, world-ship saliva dripping everywhere, cannibalistic feasts, and people traveling through the ship’s veins. PS: There are no male characters; the ships produce only women, as needed. Zan believes that she’s in love with Jayd — who may or may not be her sibling — but there’s another fearsome warrior woman, from the Bhavaja world-ship, who also wants to get her hooks into Zan. Why? A complex thriller.
Fun facts: Asked in an interview, whether Henry V — another story of warring families — was a model for The Stars are Legion, Hurley replied, “The bare bones plot is actually based on an Icelandic epic, and there’s some Hindu-inspired mythology in there as well that’s driving the plot and the world-building.” Also, when asked to name a specific sf subgenre for the book, she coined a neologism: “wombpunk.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES.