Hurley has already produced a body of work large enough to make her distinctive voice heard on the sci-fi literary scene. However, Meet Me In The Future amplifies her voice to glorious extremes. Collecting 16 stories published between 2006 and 2018, there’s an abundance of wide-eyed futures at work here. The back cover of Meet Me In The Future summarises the stories as ‘optimistic’, yet when reading these stories, there’s something infinitely more perverse, macabre and backstabbing going on beneath the surface of these tales.
Some stories are connected to each other in terms of continuity, yet for the most part, they stand alone. Despite their mostly solitary stance, similar themes and ideas crop up throughout. Hurley’s stories regularly feature characters thrown into the outcasts of society, lone figures forced into scenarios where they’re routinely out of control of their own existence. From body-hopping assassins to cybernetically enhanced detectives and would-be guardians keeping law and order in the fascist remnants of sky-based civilisations, Hurley’s protagonists live fractured lives on fractured planets.
Through her invigorating prose and eloquent world-building, Hurley takes these lost souls in journeys of self-discovery, letting her intense imagination run amok. Solving murders, uncovering secrets of forgotten societies, battling against villainous warriors, attempts at peace talks with rogue soldiers, her stories routinely feature huge dollops of inventive sci-fi muscle. Her characters are a riot too. Funny, desperate, tearaways who aren’t necessarily heroes in the conventional, do-gooder sense. Rather, they’re at work keeping themselves alive in unforgiving climates across the stars.
Hurley’s style of writing galvanises each story featured in this collection, giving them a handsome flow and a balanced sense of pace. She writes with flair and humour, clarity and spontaneity. She gives ample page space for crafting the state and nature of planets and galaxies, but always leaving room for ample moments of tender subtlety in her worlds and characters. She never forgets to give these strays some form of emotional or personality feature for the reader to connect to, however antagonistic her characters may be. Such a move makes Meet Me In The Future’s already heartfelt execution resonate all the more.
Meet Me In The Future is an absolute gem. It’s an empathetic collection of star-spinning adventures whose initial grim-faced vibes are resolved by a yearning sense of hopefulness by the time each story reaches its end. The sense of scale it packs in is at odds with Hurley’s dry, biting sense of humour, yet the two collide together with joyous, hook-filled stories that keeps the reader engaged throughout. It prowls and pounces in all the right places. It’s the literary sci-fi equivalent of a progressive rock album for punks. A work of literary art, Meet Me In The Future confirms that Hurley’s is a voice that must be heard by all.