So the setting of Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is interesting. There’s a swarm of worldships around a star, each with their own inhabitants (all of them female) and civilizations. And the tech is entirely biological in ways that are about as gross as real biology is.

And the part of the novel that’s dedicated to exploring that setting, which feels like one of those journey-of-discovery novels like Ringworld, is similarly pretty great. The protagonist finds new societies, makes new friends and new enemies, encounters surprising creatures and places, all that. It’s stickier and slimier than Ringworld maybe, but it’s working in a fun space.

Unfortunately, that’s a relatively small part of the book. The rest of it is a morass of horrible people being horrid to each other. It’s full of betrayals and counter-betrayals, casual cruelties and elaborate vengeance, brutal acts of war and even more brutal acts of “love.”

The book spoon feeds out the background to you, as the main protagonist has lost her memory, so there’s a kind of puzzlebox feel as she regains it—who can she trust? what is not actually as it appears?—but as it becomes clearer what’s actually happened before, my ability to care if any of these people succeed in their too-complex schemes fell to basically zero.

This is another one that might appeal more to people who like grimdark antiheroes doing horrible things, but I can’t really recommend it.


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