While some writers assemble short story collections around a theme, or connected with a framing device, most just pull together their latest and greatest…and then often find that a theme has emerged all on its own. Which is basically what happened to writer Kameron Hurley when she assembled Future Artifacts (paperback, audiobook), her second short story collection after 2019’s Meet Me In The Future. Well…except for the “latest” part.
To start, is there a theme to Future Artifacts?
I did not initially consider a theme when putting together this collection. I mostly focused on pulling together my strongest stories that hadn’t yet been collected into a volume. So there are a few older stories here that weren’t included in Meet Me In The Future, and lots of fresh stories that haven’t been accessible to readers outside of my group of Patreon subscribers. For the last six or seven years, I’ve been writing a short story a month for Patreon subscribers, and of course, I have a backlist of short fiction that’s been collected in various anthologies, but some of them were obscure or out of print anthologies. It’s great to have them all collected here where they are accessible to readers.
This made for an eclectic mix of stories. However, my editor, when writing up the back cover copy, identified a unifying theme of war and resistance that certainly does bubble up as you read them all together.
You’ve worked in a lot of different genres and subgenres. Which are represented in Future Artifacts?
Future Artifacts contains a whole cornucopia of subgenres, though if I had to define what I write I’d say it’s a sort of space fantasy or future fantasy style, very much influenced by the weird stuff I grew up on in the ’80s. Someone called my work a blend of Golden Age Science Fiction Sense Of Wonder merged with New Weird sensibilities, and I find that idea delightful.
Along with Future Artifacts and Meet Me In The Future, you’ve written a number of novels. Are any of the stories in Future Artifacts directly connected to any of your novels?
I don’t have stories here connected to any novels. The stories set in my God’s War universe are collected separately, in the collection Apocalypse Nyx (and I anticipate a second collection of those in the next couple years).
However, there are stories here that contain the same settings and characters as some stories featured in Meet Me In The Future. For instance, there’s a story in here about Inspector Abijah Olivia, and another about the fan favorite body-hopping mercenary, Nev. There’s another story set in the same universe as “The Red Secretary,” as well.
So what do you see as being the biggest influence on either specific stories in Future Artifacts or on this collection as a whole? And I mean all kinds of influences, not just literary ones.
I’m influenced by everything I consume, which lately is a lot of murder shows and domestic thrillers. I’ve also become an avid gardener, and I’m sure that is starting to become apparent as well. But most of my influence still comes from my academic background in war and the history of resistance movements. These are still powerful themes that I enjoy exploring.
Hollywood loves turning short stories into film. Do you think any of the stories in Future Artifacts could work as a movie?
All of these stories are cinematic in some degree or another. I know I’ve had interest in adapting several of the stories from Meet Me In The Future, and anticipate some interest in a few of these as well. My work is heavily character-driven, and the smaller casts and tighter concepts in shorter fiction make it much more readily adaptable to film than a novel. While a novel like The Light Brigade would be a great film, it would be an even better limited series, for instance.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Future Artifacts?
Short story collections are a great way to get a “taste” of a new author’s work and see if their style and thematic concepts are up your alley.
Finally, if someone enjoys Future Artifacts, and it’s the first time someone’s gotten a taste of your work, which of your novels would you suggest they read next?
The Light Brigade is a good next bet. It was actually based on a short story in my last collection! Think Starship Troopers meets Edge Of Tomorrow.