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Lauren Beukes
Angry Robot, 320 pages

Lauren Beukes
Lauren Beukes has an MA in Creative Writing from UCT, but she got her real education from 12 years of freelance journalism. Writing for the likes of the Sunday Times, Colors, The Hollywood Reporter, Nature Medicine, and Marie Claire, among others, she picked up really useful life-skills like sky-diving, pole-dancing and brewing mqombothi. Journalism also allowed her to hang out with AIDS activists, township vigilantes, electricity thieves, homeless sex workers, teen vampires, reluctant basejumpers and other interesting folk. She lives in Cape Town with her family.

Lauren Beukes Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Bonnie L. Norman

In Moxyland, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has spread to a Grand Canyon sized gulf. Set in the near future of South Africa, it follows the interweaving story of four very different kinds of people. In each perspective, the person is somehow controlled or subsumed by the technology society has come to rely on, bringing to mind visions of how claustrophobic and wired life could eventually become.

There's Toby, a trust-fund baby with a grudge against the world and a sense of entitlement three miles deep. Hooked constantly into his trendy tech, he broadcasts a blog 24/7 about his experiences and encounters, and mouths off to anyone with a set of ears. There's Kendra, an old-fashioned photographer injected with a brand new kind of advertising technology, a nano-tech that literally shows the brand on her skin while giving her amazing recuperative abilities and an addiction to the drink for which she has become a living billboard.

Lerato is a cocky, tough-as-nails programming wiz, looking out for herself and no one else, always ready to pull the wool over someone's eyes if it means she'll get ahead. The last perspective is provided by Tendeka, an idealistic anti-corporation, anti-tech advocate with a naïve outlook on the world and a tendency to get himself in way over his head.

The manner by which these four characters meet, part, and meet again, intertwining their life stories against a backdrop of more sinister dealings, is captivating and deftly handled by Lauren Beukes. Each contributes their own piece of the bigger puzzle, at the same time they are pulling the reader into their fears, doubts, dreams and disasters. The idea that one day, corporations will control where we live, how we live, our ability to protest and our very lives, is something that has been speculated on before, but in this book, the controls are so subtly a part of the scenery, even the characters sometimes don't know they exist.

Diversity among the main characters and their sidekicks allows the reader to catch a view from nearly all levels of this dystopian future. Kendra is soft-spoken and artsy, Toby is loud mouthed and from the upper class, Lerato is one of the reviled corporati, a programming cog in the wheel that runs this society, and Tendeka is nearly on the streets, mixing with the homeless, the disenfranchised, and the destitute. Some of the characters are white, some black, some straight, some gay, some male, and some female. The inclusion of so many different and differing viewpoints gives a rounded, realistic feel to the Moxyland storyscape.

In real life, there are no happy endings, the story just continues on, along with the winners and losers. Moxyland is no different. In a style that is at times both cyberpunk and near apocalyptic, it manages to instill a fear in its readers that things may never get better, but only worse, more controlled, more contained. There always seems to be this promise that with more technology, more advancements, more of everything, life will suddenly become a utopia where everyone is equal, has enough to eat, and a little extra money for the newest tech in the stores. Lauren Beukes is here to tell you that you shouldn't hold your breath.

Copyright © 2009 by Bonnie L. Norman

With a love for all things Science Fiction and Fantasy, it's hard for Bonnie to decide between SF books and SF TV, but somehow, books always seem to win.

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