Up for Review: God’s War

I’m going to let this one speak for itself. Check out these amazing opening paragraphs:

Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.
Drunk, but no longer bleeding, she pushed into a smoky cantina just after dark and ordered a pinch of morphine and a whiskey chaser. She bet all of her money on a boxer named Jaks, and lost it two rounds later when Jaks hit the floor like an antique harem girl.
Nyx lost every coin, a wad of opium, and the wine she’d gotten from the butchers as a bonus for her womb. But she did get Jaks into bed and – loser or not – in the desert after dark that was something.
“What are you after?” Jaks murmured in her good ear.
They lay tangled in the sheets like old lovers: a losing boxer with a poor right hook and a tendency to drop her left, and a wombless hunter bereft of money, weapons, and most of her clothing.
“I’m looking for my sister,” Nyx said. It was partly the truth. She was looking for something else too, something worth a lot more, and Jaks was going to help her get it.
The midnight call to prayer rolled out over the desert. It started somewhere out in Faleen and moved in a slow wave from mosque muezzin to village mullah to town crier, certain as a swarm of locusts, ubiquitous as the name of God.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Nyx said, “what I’m about to tell you.”

I can’t resist a book that starts like that. In that short piece of damn good writing, author Kameron Hurley tells us so much about Nyx and the world God’s War is set in, while working in a good deal of intrigue. It’s just so slick. 

The blurb has a broader scope but is less revealing:

Some days, Nyx was a Bel Dame – an honored, respected, and deadly government-funded assassin – other days, she was a butcher and a hunter; a woman with nothing to lose. Now the butcher has a bounty to bring in. Nyx and her rag-tag group of mercenaries is about to take up a contract that will shake the foundations of two warring governments… (from NetGalley)


I feel I should tell you a bit more. God’s War is set on Umayma, a hot, hostile planet in an isolated area of the universe. Umayma was colonised by Islamic families many centuries before. Religious differences eventually led to conflict, and for two hundred years the two main nations on the planet have been engaged in a brutal war. With a detailed depiction of a pair of post-Earth societies with wildly different interpretations of Islam, Hurley has created what has so far been an excellent and unique piece of science fiction. I’m about halfway through the novel and hope to have a review for you by Thursday or at least next week Tuesday.

God’s War is the first novel in the Bel Dame Apocrypha series, published by Night Shade Books on 18 January 2011. The sequel, Infidelwas published on 1 October 2011. The third book in the series, entitled Rapture is due to be published on 6 November this year. To learn more about the author, check out her website, where she has some interesting articles on books, writing and gender. She also has links to some short fiction that you can read for free. From what I’ve read of God’s War, I think you should definitely go and check that out NOW.

The Book Ferret: The Women of Science Fiction Bookclub

TJ at the speculative fiction blog Dreams & Speculation is hosting a 2011 bookclub/reading challenge focusing on The Women of Science Fiction. The bookclub will read one book and one or two James Tiptree Jr. short stories per month. If you want to participate you can sign up here – it’s not necessary, since you could just follow the discussions on the blog, but TJ is offering prizes and giveaways to those who do sign-up, so why not take her up on that?

I studied a bit of feminist sci fi at university, but since then I’ve neglected the genre, so this opportunity inspired me to get reacquainted with the writers and heroines I admire so much. In addition, I’ve got a bit of a reading challenge addiction, and this is undoubtedly the best one I’ve signed up for so far, as it’s not just a reading guide but a chance to discuss and discover insights to some great sci fi.

The reading list for the year is as follows:

For ease of reference, you can download a .pdf version of the reading list

The bookclub will also be reading the James Tiptree Jr. short stories collected in Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. Tiptree isn’t just one of the best feminist sci fi writers, she’s one of my favourite sci fi writers in general, and my favourite short story writer, period. Consequently I’m very happy to get a chance to read, re-read, discuss and contemplate her stories in detail throughout the year. You can find the short story reading schedule on the sign-up page for the bookclub/challenge

The short story discussions will begin in the middle of each month, while the novel discussions will begin on the last day of each month. From what I could surmise from my exploration of Dreams and Speculation, TJ is a very attentive and insightful blogger who engages regularly and comprehensively with those who comment, plus she’s got plenty of followers, so I think this could be a very rewarding bookclub.

And if your preference is for fantasy rather than sci fi, don’t despair! There’s a bookclub for you too – Jawas Read Too! is hosting The Women of Fantasy bookclub for 2011. If I have the time, I’ll be joining that one too.

The Book Ferret is a weekly feature on Violin in a Void that will showcase a cool or interesting book-related find every Thursday. Notable new releases, great bookshops, events, cover art, websites, gadgets and accessories – anything to make bookworms happy.

If you want to join in, grab the Ferret pic, link it and your post back here, and add your name and url to the comments.