9 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

All the llamas.

Title: The Geek Feminist Revolution

Author: Kameron Hurley

Genre: Nonfiction, Essays, Reviews, Literary Criticism, Popgeekery

Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: June 2016
Hardcover: 272 Pages

The Geek Feminist Revolution

A powerful collection of essays on feminism, geek culture, and a writer’s journey, from one of the most important new voices in genre.

The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays by double Hugo Award-winning essayist and science fiction and fantasy novelist Kameron Hurley.

The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2014 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume.

Unapologetically outspoken, Hurley has contributed essays to The Atlantic, Locus, Tor.com, and elsewhere on the rise of women in genre, her passion for SF/F, and the diversification of publishing.

Stand alone or series: Standalone book

How did I get this book: Review Copy from the Publisher

Format (e- or p-): Hardcover

Review:

“I’m a grim optimist.”

The Geek Feminist Revolution is SFF writer and award-winning essayist Kameron Hurley’s first collection of essays on writing, feminism and SFF fandom. It collects thirty-six essays—nine of them especially written for the anthology—divided into four sections. Level Up includes essays about improving the craft of writing and the importance of persistence. The Geek section covers different SFF media and conversations around them. Let’s Get Personal is exactly what it says on the bottle. The last section, Revolution is both coverage and interaction with fandom’s most recent dust-ups and a call for revolution, for change. This last section includes the piece that won the author a Hugo Award for Best Related Work in 2014, “We Have Always Fought.”

Dedicated to creators and fans alike, the collection paints a broad impression of the world at large, of SFF fandom in particular and how one feeds into the other. Nothing happens in a vacuum after all and context is essential. This is possibly why Kameron Hurley’s essays are always personal to some extent—even beyond the Let’s Get Personal section—and why it’s part and parcel of her essays to mention the personal as a way to offer contextualised parameters (although sometimes this becomes repetitious which is probably why reading the collection in one sitting is less exciting than it could have been).

Beyond the mix of personal with the societal, there are four foundational ideas that are present in most essays and form the basis from which Kameron Hurley builds her essayist edifice: persistence, hard work, self-awareness and perspective. The first two are all about endurance and not giving up even with odds stacked up against you. The self-awareness and perspective are a great tool to have both as a creator whose work will be read, possibly even ripped to pieces, but also as a white feminist with a few acknowledged privileges.

I was going to start this review by saying how hard it is to be a woman online and then I prevented myself from writing such limited foolishness: it’s hard to be a woman. Period. My point though was going to be all about how it’s difficult to be a woman, with a loud voice, expressing strong opinions and often being anger on the Internet. I know. I am one of them. As someone who follows Kameron Hurley closely online, I have been aware of her work, especially her essays, for a while.

Whether you agree with the author on every single one of her points or not, it doesn’t matter—I personally disagree with many of the points the author makes, often when it comes to what sometimes feels as a too simplistic take on perseverance for example, and how freaking hard that is to pull off in the intersection of privileges or lack of them (but hey, someone is always wrong on the Internet. It could be me). What matters is that the author is not only aware that disagreements will and should happen—and is fully prepared for mea culpa when called out. What matters is the strength of her convictions; the strong, loud voice that is a great source of comfort (“You’re not alone”); and the inspiration to become part of the revolution that is already in the works.

This is an excellent book: as a feminist collection of essays. As a historical view of a particular point in time in SFF fandom. As a personal account of an outspoken writer who will continue to shine.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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1 Comment

  • Pamela
    July 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Oooh–I just put this on hold. Sounds excellent. I usually need a good book of essays every once in a while as a sort of bookish palate cleanser.

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