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War was all about the annihilation of truth. Every good dictator and CEO knows that (255).

Kameron Hurley has developed a considerable following, winning numerous awards. Her 2019 novel, The Light Brigade, has landed her a 2020 Hugo nomination for best SF novel.

In an authoritarian future controlled by a handful of powerful corporations, a soldier who watched her community die joins the military to seek revenge and gain citizenship. Dietz soon finds herself on missions. She returns alive-- with different memories than her squad.

We all know that truth is the first casualty of war. Her experiences lead her to suspect the depth of the deception at work in her world. Ultimately, Dietz will make some difficult decisions, ones that make perfect sense in context. Few works of military science fiction so effectively create a sense of what the personal trauma of war might feel like.

The book hurls us through a series of hellish experiences, and brings us to a conclusion that works even if you see it coming.

Hurley delivers a fast-paced story, driven by speculative science, set in a disturbingly credible future world that functions, to some degree, as a satire of our own. Despite being a novel of our time, it will remain readable when the future comes. Some themes remain timeless, and often depressingly so.

An apolitical war novel cannot exist. A dystopia will always comment on current sociopolitical trends. These necessary things Hurley generally handles well. As we near the conclusion, however, her novel grows increasingly didactic. Some of the more overt politics make sense in context, but the thematic elements are clear enough without them.

Hurley draws from past works, but her novel stands on its own. This book may not be perfect, but she is one hell of a storyteller.

300 words

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