Lauren Beukes
Moxyland Cover



The setting is Capetown in 2018, and if this is not an alternate history tale, technology and the growth of a corporate/government alliance will have to move very quickly in the next four years. Unfortunately this may not be an alternate history tale. Every technological innovation and fascistic development Beukes brings to her story is a plausible blend of the dreams we have of a fully wired world and a worst-case scenario for the same.

Beukes characters are mostly in their twenties and a mix of art school graduates, upwardly mobile corporate types, hackers, and minor league revolutionaries of the Merry Prankster variety. She moves them rapidly through a world where one's identity is completely tied up with a cell phone, and the worst that can happen to you is a police-enforced disconnect. Corporations operate as city-states and rule a strictly stratified society whose members find release in their drugs of choice. Her greatest accomplishment is the slangy, hipster lingo her characters speak, a argot the reader is expected to keep up with without a phrasebook to help things along. And it works. Even when I was vague on specifics I felt I had the gist of what was going on.

The issues her characters face are familiar from novels without sf settings. They need money from home; they have friends who might become lovers; they might sell out to corporate money; or, their move up the corporate ladder conflicts with their links to avant garde factions of society. The story if fun and slightly dangerous, but dystopian fiction being what it is, you see serious trouble ahead. There is this sobering exchange late in the novel

...any action is justified when there is a terrorist threat."
"You just have to create your own terrorists."
And it makes perfect sense. The process has to be managed. Fear has to be managed. Fear has to be controlled.
Like people.