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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes – SA Cover Glory!

It’s official!

Lauren Beukes has let me know that I can go ahead and show you all the incredible cover of the South African edition of Zoo City!

The cover was done by the same awesome guy who did both covers for Moxyland (the Angry Robot cover and the SA cover, both below), and he also did the cover for Lauren’s first book, Maverick, Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past ; his name is Dale Halvorsen, AKA Joey Hifi, and you can check out the rest of his work at this website.

Okay, here’s the SA Moxyland cover (published by Jacana and available to order from Exclusive Books):

Here’s the Angry Robot cover for Moxyland, showing the four main characters in all their coolness:


Here’s John Picacio’s Zoo City cover, launched a couple of months ago on this blog:

And finally, here’s the awesome cover that will be gracing the shelves all over South Africa before you can get your jaw back to the proper position! (from May, SA & UK for those who need a date)

Isn’t that awesome!!?? I love the way that it’s totally black and white but vibrant and alive, too; it takes a different tack from the cover that John Picacio did for Lauren, but still manages to give readers a taste of what they can expect from Zoo City. 🙂 Beautiful stuff! Congrats on Lauren and Jacana for getting such a talented dude to do the cover! 🙂

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

P.S. There will be launch events coming up for Zoo City, too; the book will be launched in both Cape Town and Joburg in May, as well as in London on in July – more detailed info will follow. 🙂 I’ll be there in Joburg! 🙂

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Announcements

 

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Angry Robot: Cover Release – Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Here it is, the official cover for Lauren‘s next Angry Robot novel, done by the awesome John Picacio!

Gorgeous cover, right? 🙂 I’ve heard from Lee Harris that Zoo City is even better than Moxyland, so I’m expecting great things from this book – definitely looking forward to it!

Be EPIC!

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Angry Robot, Announcements

 

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Angry Robot Review: Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

angry-robot

moxyland

Last night (this being Thursday evening through till Friday morning) I plowed through a hectic sinus-headache to finish Moxyland. That’s how good this book is.

Let me try and set the scene for you: Cape Town, South Africa, some time in the future. We follow four pre-thirties characters as they go about their lives and swirl around each other in a world that seems to have gone a bit nuts – corporations run everything, the South African Police Services (SAPS, as we know them) plays pre-recorded messages to disperse unlawful gatherings before using nano-fueled dogs, and your online identity is more important that your physical life, because if you aren’t connected, you can’t do anything; well, you could, but then you wouldn’t be much better off than the homeless kids or the Rurals (more on that later)…

And then all of the above doesn’t even touch on all the subjects that Moxyland deals with. 🙂

Reading Moxyland is like being electrocuted with a blend of Philip K Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, George Orwell’s 1984 and Ian McDonald’s Necroville, with a dash of A Clockwork Orange, while enjoying the kind of great characters that writers like Stephen King and George RR Martin come up with.

As a South African reading it, I was struck by how well Lauren had captured our blend of cultures, and then taken those cultures a decade or two into the future; I haven’t ever been to Cape Town, but Lauren wrote Cape Town so well that I got the same feeling about the city after being submerged in the London of A Madness of Angels – you walk the streets, drive on the roads and smell the myriad scents, and even the people, the bergies and the internet-café employees and the shack-dwellers (most of the Rurals; as in, they come from outside SA and aren’t really a part of the country since most of them are too poor to be connected) come alive, lending the tale one of its many aspects of credibility. These aren’t stereotypes at all; they’re all normal people, struggling, as we do every day, to make sense of a world gone weird (or wired, should I say), and the way Lauren handles the integration of technology into everyday life begs the question: “How much place is there for a people’s culture, for their identity, in a world where everyone is connected to everyone else? Are we really better off when people know about the latest trends, products, games, movies and celebrities and are forgetting about who they are, as people?”

This is just one of the many questions this tale seeded in me, and that’s also one of the joys of this book: it’s the kind of book that makes you pick up your head, look around and ask, “Just what the fuck, exactly, is going on?” You may look at the world a bit differently; you may just realize that you had a life, once, without a cellphone or connection to the internet, and that, Oh my Goodness, nothing much has changed – except for the fact that we’re all learning how to be good little marketing drones for the money-makers. 🙂

Another aspect of Moxyland that I really enjoyed was the tech – none of it is outrageous or unbelievable, and everything has a proper use. Think your cellphone is cool now? Wait until you read where it may be headed! (Be afraid, I say, be very afraid!) The whole world changes with technology, even if we don’t admit it, and this is definitely reflected in Moxyland – from art galleries to how you clean your house / apartment to the clothes you wear. Not even ol’ Tom Cruise had it this fast and furious in Minority Report!

Going back to the characters, you’ll find yourself either loving or hating them. 🙂 You’ll meet Tendeka, Toby, Kendra and Lerato – they are our POV-people, and the tale unfolds as we take a ride behind their eyes.

Tendeka wants change, Toby wants fame, fortune and sugar, Kendra is finding herself, and Lerato is poised at the precipice; each character is unique, with their own lives, dramas, voices, hates, dislikes and loves. Sometimes the perspectives overlap, giving us an event from two angles, and it’s through these characters that we really connect with the world Lauren has created (and, some of you may agree, foreseen). You see all the angles, hear all the arguments, and this is particularly great because of the kind of book Moxyland is – like I said, you will question, you will ponder, you will agree and disagree, and I guarantee that at least one of the characters will resonate with you. 🙂

Lauren also kicks it into high gear from around the last 120 pages of the book, tension-wise (that’s one of the reasons that I plowed through the headache), and you’ll find yourself flipping the pages faster and faster. All of the character-arcs are resolved and there are more surprises than you can shake a stick at – one of them at least that should knock you into stunned silence. The preceding portions of the book are well-balanced with some laugh-out-loud moments, some moments that’ll have leave your eyes widened in shock, and all through it, you’ll feel amazed by Lauren’s Cape Town and the characters that inhabit it.

It is my opinion that this book will end up being one of the greats of contemporary future-fiction, and it can stand proud among the legends that authors such as Philip K Kick and George Orwell have given us – and also, coming from a South African writer, this is definitely a book that should force the rest of the publishing world to sit up and take notice. We can write here. 🙂

8.5 / 10

lauren-beukes

Check out the official Moxyland website here, check out Moxyland’s spiffy new home here, and order your copies here (for SA), here (for the UK), and here (for the US).

Now that Angry Robot has officially launched (congrats to the guys and to all the authors who’s work will be published by Angry Robot!), expect to see much more from them, on this Blog and elsewhere! 🙂 My next Angry Robot review will be up soon! 🙂

angry-robot

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 7, 2009 in Angry Robot, Reviews

 

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Spotlight: The Cape Town Book Fair

Day 1

Thought that I would bring this event (taking place at the moment here in SA) to everyone’s attention, even though there’s no link whatsoever to anything in the Science Fiction or Fantasy genres or sub-genres for us to get excited about. 🙂

I thought, Well, since I keep on hearing about all these cool events and Cons and stuff, I’ll fill non-SAfrican’s in on what happens here – plus the fact that I got what amounted to an invite to the event (but wasn’t able to attend), so I feel duty bound. 🙂

What is the Cape Town Book Fair? Well, I guess it’s the same as any other bookfair worldwide: an event where publishers can showcase their product and select members of the public can meet and greet industry-insiders, including authors. The fact that it’s held in Cape Town is a continuous jealousy-generator for those of us living in Pretoria (driving, it takes about a week to get there, and going by plane is just (excuse the pun) plain expensive), but we still get to hear all the news anyway. 🙂

Okay, onto some details: I wont regale you with information about the previous Bookfairs (because I don’t have that info, and even if I did, I would need to change this blog’s name); instead, I’ll dive right into it. 🙂

First I’ll point you to the Bookfair’s blog; it gets updated with regular posts detailing the happenings at the Fair, and will offer quite an interesting window into South Africa’s publishing industry besides. 🙂

Next up, a short run-down of events passed and future:

Taken from the main Fair website, “29 Countries will be present this year, with more than 250 exhibitors representing the full range of publishing in South Africa. South African literature has always had a central role at the fair. This year sees the pilot of the first Cape Town Book Fair Invitation Programme which introduces 12 publishers from 12 African countries at the fair. This is an important development in the growth of the fair. ” this offers a broad info-dump that is actually quite interesting. I never realized (even working in the retail-side of the book trade for just over 4 years now) that the event was home to outside-SA exhibitors. That’s great news, and hopefully means that big houses have stands there, too (for your info, exhibitors have stands at which they showcase their product).

The Fair is housed in the Cape Town International Conference Centre which boasts 10000m(squared, can’t figure the small ‘2’ out) of dedicated exhibition space – book heaven, in other words! 🙂 Check out this page for pics. Quite an impressive venue; that puts you close to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, practically in the shadow of table Mountain, and an hour away (at most) from some of the amazing tourist attractions the fairest Cape has to offer. 🙂

Onto the events that took place today (already done, it’s half past eight in the evening as I type this, but the time will be later while you read this), from 10am to 11:30am the only real stand-outs for me were 1) Antjie Krog‘s appearence (click her name for info on her), 2 panels that had nothing to do with books and everything to do with politics (thought this was a ‘book’fair), and a discussion on whether or not literary prizes are good for the industry as a whole (pretty good one that, I have to admit).

Also taking place at 11am: Louise Grantham spoke about what it takes to be published successfully in South Africa (are you thinking fly-on-the-wall too?), the author of the HUGE (I’m not joking – this is probably the biggest book in SA’s history; I was at the launch of it in Johannesburg and it was BIG) SpudLearning to Fly (third Spud book for the uninformed) by author John Van Der Ruit; he read from the book, took questions and signed copies of the book, too, a discussion on the emerging SA-market of SAfrican Chic-Lit, more political stuff in the form of discussions about teacher shortages and ‘electric capitalism, and demonstrations of printing as well as mini-workshops on copy-editing.

Later in the day, Pan Macmillan hosted a talk that gave tips to aspiring authors, fair-goers could meet Trevor Manual’s biographer, Pippa Green, and a discussion on cartooning and its place in politics.

Going into the afternoon (3pm onwards), a proof-reading workshop (hey, I read proofs!), a discussion with (and I did a double-take when I saw this, couldn’t believe it) !Lauren Beukes! 🙂 among others about new fiction, writing History in the wake of Apartheid, and the launch of Sarah Lotz‘s Exhibit A.

Events ended at 6 this evening, so it was a full day, but not much to interest people reading (and writing) Fantasy or Science Fiction. Still, would have been great to be there and rub shoulders. 🙂 If I get invited next year, I’ll be there for sure. 🙂

The programmes for tomorrow, Monday, Tuesday and the Children’s programme can all be downloaded here, so if you’re interested, have a look. 🙂

I’m sure that’s enough info for now. 🙂 I’ll do another post tomorrow covering Sunday’s programme, and then one on Monday, Tuesday, etc. so check back here (or keep on eye on the feed-reader). 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in Spotlight

 

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Angry Robot Books: Free Fiction Extracts No 1

Hey Guys and Girls, got some free fiction for you! 🙂 Granted, it is only an extract from the full novel, but still, it should be enough to wet your appetite! 🙂 First up, I’ve got an extract from fellow South African and Angry Robot author, Lauren Beukes’ novel, Moxyland! 🙂

Enjoy!

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moxyland

Kendra

There is already spillage out of the doors by the time I get to Propeller, which can only be a good sign when it’s just gone six-thirty. I feel fractal with nerves, or maybe it’s that I’m on
my fourth Ghost in under an hour.

‘You’re late.’ Jonathan latches onto my arm at the door and swishes me inside through the crowd. I can’t believe how many people there are, crowded into the gallery. There is a queue up the stairs to see Johannes Michael’s atom mobile, but the major throng is in the main room, and not, I regret to say, for my retro print photos.

They’re here to see Khanyi Nkosi’s sound installation, freshly returned from her São Paulo show and all the resulting controversy. She only installed it this afternoon, snuck in undercover with security, so it’s the first time I’ve seen it in the flesh. It’s gruesome, red and meaty, like something dead turned inside out and mangled, half-collapsed in on itself with spines and ridges and fleshy strings and some kind of built-in speakers, which makes the name even more disturbing: ‘Woof & Tweet’.

I don’t understand how it works, but it’s to do with reverb and built-in resonator-speakers. It’s culling sounds from around us, remixing ambient audio, conversation, footsteps, glasses clinking, rustling clothing, through the systems of its body, disjointed parts of it inflating, like it’s breathing, spines quivering.

It’s hard to hear it over the hubbub, but sometimes it’s like words, almost recognisable. But mostly it’s just noise, a fractured music undercut with jarring sounds that seem to come randomly. Sometimes it sounds like pain. It is an animal. Or alive at any rate. Some lab-manufactured plastech bio-breed with just enough brainstem hard-wired to respond to input in different ways, so it’s unpredictable – but not enough to hurt, apparently, if you believe the info blurb on the work.
‘It’s gratuitous. She could have done it any other way. It could have been beautiful.’

‘Like something you’d put in your lounge, Kendra? It’s supposed to be revolting. It’s that whole Tokyo tech-grotesque thing. Actually, it’s so derivative, I can’t stand it. Can we move
along?’
I run my hand along one of the ridges and the thing quivers, but I can’t determine any noticeable difference in the sounds.
‘Do you think it gets traumatised?’
‘It’s just noise, okay? You’re as bad as that nutjob who threw blood at Khanyi at the Jozi exhibition. It doesn’t have nerve endings. Or no, wait, sorry, it does have nerve endings, but it doesn’t have pain receptors.’
‘I meant, do you think it gets upset? By all the attention? I mean, isn’t it supposed to be able to pick up moods, reflect the vibe?’

‘I think that’s all bullshit, but you could ask the artist. She’s over there schmoozing with the money, like you should be.’
Woof & Tweet suddenly kicks out a looped fragment of a woman’s laugh that startles me and half the room, before it slides down the scale into a fuzzy electronica.

‘See, it likes you.’
‘Don’t be a jerk, Jonathan.’
‘There’s some streamcast journalist who wants to interview
you, by the way. And he’s pretty cute.’
My stomach spasms. This is another thing Jonathan does to
keep me in my place – as in, we’re not together.
‘Great, thanks. I need a drink.’
‘I’ll get it. Just go talk to Sanjay. What do you want?’
‘Anything.’ It’s unlikely that the gallery bar would have
Ghost on hand.
Jonathan propels me in the direction of Sanjay, who is standing in a cluster of people, in deep conversation. The one is clearly money, some corporati culture patron or art buyer; the other, I realise, is Khanyi Nkosi. I recognise her from an interview
I saw, but she is so warmly energetic, waving her hands in the air to make a point and grinning, that I can’t match her to her work. And the third, I realise with a shock, is Andile. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he should be here, considering he picked me on the basis of my work, but I still haven’t come clean with Jonathan about the branding, and this doesn’t strike me as the time.

I can’t deal with this right now. I push through the queue, detouring back towards the entrance and the open air – only to skewer someone’s foot with the ’40s-style blue velvet heels I bought for the occasion.

‘Hey! Easy!’
‘Oh god, I’m sorry.’ Shit, I really, really, really need a Ghost. I wonder if I can make it to the spaza down the road and back before Jonathan notices.
‘No worries. Art is what the artist does, right? So technically, my bruised toes could be worth something?’
I didn’t even realise it was Toby whose foot I had crushed.
‘So you must be the famous artist, then?’
‘I’m the less famous artist. I mean, I’m not; the thing, it’s not
mine. But you know that.’ I laugh self-consciously, still thinking about how to get a Ghost, my mind chanting a little litany of need, wondering if they serve them at the bar.
‘Is now a good time to get an interview?’
‘You’re the journalist?’
‘Ouch!’ He mock-staggers back, clutching his heart. ‘Yeah. I brought my own phone mic and everything.’
‘I’m sorry. That’s not what I… Oh God. Can we just start again?’
‘Sure. No prob.’
He turns away, clears his throat, and then does a little twirl, one hand raised in fabulous salute, hamming it up like he’s on
the red carpet.
‘Hello. I’m Toby. I’ll be your journo for the evening.’
And I can’t help but laugh.
‘Do you have a drink?’
‘No, thanks. Someone’s getting me one.’
‘Rocking.’ He suddenly turns serious. ‘Okay, now listen, Special K, if you want, we can talk later. I know it’s your opening and you’ve got things to do, people to schmooze. I will totally understand if now is not the most opportune moment.’
‘Actually, do you want to get out of here?’

‘What?’
‘Just for a sec. I need some fresh air. And a drink.’
‘I thought someone was getting you one.’
‘A non-alcoholic.’
‘Ooooooh. Right.’ He winks.
‘You want to come?’
‘Sure. Can my mic come too?’
We’re not the only people hanging outside. We have to push through a crowd, including an astonishingly gorgeous blonde, with fucked-up hair, who makes me feel conservative. We get halfway down the block before I take off my heels in disgust.
‘That doesn’t make it into the copy, okay?’
He holds up his hands. ‘Do you see me making notes?’
We walk in silence for another block, stepping over a bergie passed out in the street. And I’m relieved not to feel any sense of an urgent compulsion to touch him. And no Aitos in sight, either.
At the spaza, Toby opens the fridge at the back. ‘Ghost, I’m assuming?’ he says, putting it on his phone.
It’s cold and crisp and clean and it hurts my teeth and I realise my hands have been shaking all this while – or maybe my whole body. And this can’t be good, but it doesn’t feel bad.
‘Mind if I join you?’
Toby cracks another can. ‘Wow. You really are an addict deluxe,’ he says, a little too admiringly.
‘Hey, did you check my coat tonight?
‘Yeah?’
His BabyStrange is black, which is a relief after the goreporn he was projecting last time I saw him.
‘It’s my little shout out to Self-Portrait.’
‘Cute. So, do you want to do this?’
‘Am I allowed to take notes now?’

‘Yeah, yeah.’ I wave my hand impatiently.
He hooks a mic into his phone and points it at me. ‘So. What’s with the oldschool?’
‘Didn’t you read the press release?’
‘Let’s say I didn’t.’
I quote it from memory. ‘Adams’s use of non-digital format is inspired by her fascination with the capacity for error…’
‘Okay. Let’s skip the press release.’
‘Ah, it’s just – film is more interesting than digital. There’s a possibility of flaw inherent in the material. It’s not readily available, so I have to get it over the Net, and some of it has rotted or it’s been exposed even before I load it in the camera, but I don’t know that until I develop it.’
‘Like Self-Portrait?’
‘And it’s not just the film. It’s working without the automatic functions. The operator can fuck up too.’
‘Did you fuck up?’
‘Ha! That’s the great thing about working with damaged materials.
You’ll never know.’
‘It’s the same in audio, you know. Digital was too clean when it first came out, almost antiseptic. The fidelity was too clear. You lost the background noise, the sounds you don’t even pick up, but it’s dead without the context. The audio techs had to adapt the digital to synth the effects of analogue. How insane is that? It’s contentious, though – now they’re saying it’s been bullshit all along, just nostalgics missing the hiss of the recording
equipment.’
‘That’s exactly it. You can do the same thing in photography. Apply effects, lock-out the autofocus, click up for exposure, all to recreate the manual.’

‘And you’re looking for the background noise.’
‘Yeah. Or something like it.’ I set my empty can neatly down beside my shoes. ‘Got enough?’
‘Yeah. I’m good. You give good soundbite,’ he says admiringly, so that another Ghost down, we’re still sitting on the pavement, just talking, away from the madding, when a darkhaired boy I recognise as the guy from the band, from Andile’s office, comes walking down towards us.
‘Hey, photographer girl,’ he says, friendlier than last time. ‘Damian, remember? From Kill Kitten?’
‘Hey, Dame,’ says Toby. ‘How’s the bandscene? Did you catch the cast from your gig?’
‘Yeah, man, it was killer. Shot. We really appreciate the exposure.’
‘It was all you. I just filmed what I experienced. You guys were tight.’
‘Well, it was great, man, thanks. We’re playing next Saturday,
if you want on the guest list.’
‘Thanks. So, how do you know our star rising over here?’ Toby asks, nodding at me. We are both still sitting, sprawled on the kerb, so Damian is looking down at us.
There is a drawnout silence.
‘Ho-kay,’ Toby shrugs in mock defeat. ‘There’s obviously some deep unspoken going on here, and I do not need to know the gruesome details.’
‘It’s nothing like that. We’re…’ I look to Damian for approval, but he doesn’t seem concerned. ‘We’re both branded.’
‘How come you’re not chugging Ghosts, then?’
‘Are you kidding me?’ Damian laughs. ‘I’ve had three already tonight.’ He drops to sit on the pavement beside us.

‘How much do you drink in a day?’ I ask, trying to make it sound throwaway.
‘Six, seven? Somewhere around there. My girlfriend keeps tabs on me.’ I don’t say anything. I’m doing nine to twelve. This is my seventh since four-thirty.
‘It’s lucky you’re both the same brand,’ Toby says, and is that
envy in his voice?
‘What if you were competitive? There must be a clause about that. “Section 31c. Thou shalt not fraternise with the enemy.”’
‘Yeah, can you imagine?’ Damian says. ‘Coke wars for real.’
‘No rival soft-drink friends for you!’
‘I don’t think that’s going to be an issue anytime soon,’ I interrupt their banter. ‘Andile said they’re not doing this with other brands just yet. Ghost has the proprietary licence for three months.’
‘Yeah, but we’re only first gen. They’ll be popping out sponsor babies like toast.’
‘I hate that word.’
‘Toast?’ chirps Toby, trying to find a way in.
‘And what happened to it being exclusive?’
‘You’ll be able to buy your way in. Got enough cash, enough cool, you’re representing. Just like the cosmetics.’
‘So we’ll be outmoded already.’
‘Bleeding edge no more.’
‘So, Dame, where’s yours? Can I see?’
‘Toby!’ I’m scandalised, but Damian shrugs it off.
‘S’cool. I don’t mind. I signed up for the freakshow.’ He turns his back to us and yanks down the collar of his shirt to reveal the faint radiance of the glowlogo between his shoulderblades.
‘That doesn’t seem exactly high vis,’ Toby says.

‘Not now, but I have a tendency to take my shirt off on stage. I get hot, okay? It’s not like some sex-appeal thing. Hey, are you recording this?’
‘Sorry, bad habit. I’m a junkie for collecting vid. I can delete it if you want.’
‘No, it’s cool. Shouldn’t we be heading back, anyway? Aren’t
there supposed to be speeches and shit? And I know Andile wanted to say what’s up.’
‘You go ahead, we’ll catch up,’ Toby says, laconic, and this suddenly strikes me as a very Jonathan thing to do.
‘I think I’ll go with Dame. We’ve been gone a while.’
The gallery seems even more oppressive, but I’m less freaked
now, even when I see Andile talking to Jonathan. Luckily I get side-tracked by Mr Muller.
‘Congratulations. It’s wonderful. Wonderful. Although I’m not sure about this messy animal thing. It’s very Damien Hirst. Cheap shock-treatment stuff. Yours is infinitely superior. And people will see that, take my word for it.’
I’m still basking in the afterglow, when I overhear some overgroomed
loft dwellers giggling into their wine. ‘And this. I’m so tired of Statement! Like she’s the only angst child ever to embrace the distorted body image.’
‘Oh Emily. I quite like the undeveloped. Because she is. You
know, still young, coming into herself. The artist in flux, emergent.’
‘Well, precisely. It’s so young. You can’t even tell if it’s technically good or not, it’s all so… damaged.’
‘Don’t let the heathen savages get to you.’ Toby has popped up again, speaking loud enough for the woman to hear, but I’m more amused than insulted. I’m about to point out that under the black of Self-Portrait is a photograph of a photograph, clutched in my fingers, captured in the mirror with a reflected flash of light. That it’s all meant to be damaged. But then I realise I don’t have to. I don’t have to make my motives transparent.
Damian appears at my shoulder with the astonishing blonde, who he introduces as his girlfriend, Vix, a fashion designer for her own small label. Vix distracts Toby, the two of them heading off to the bar to lay in supplies for all of us, leaving me with a convenient gap to ask Damian if he’s experienced any weird side-effects. He seems puzzled.
‘Like what? I had really mif flu for about four days. Sinuses and sweats, but it worked its way out.’
I try and tell him about the thing with the Aito, but it comes out all garbled.
‘It doesn’t sound that freaky,’ says Damian. ‘You felt sorry for her. You stopped to help. That’s pretty awesome.’
I’m miserable that he doesn’t get it. ‘It wasn’t empathy or altruism or anything. It was like I had to, like a real compulsion.’
The same way we’re compelled to drink Ghost, I think but don’t say. Damian isn’t paying attention. He’s watching his girlfriend
across the room, trying to get through to the bar while Toby clowns around, making her laugh.
It makes me feel desperately alone. There are all these people circling, like Johannes Michael’s swirl of paper atoms upstairs, but the connections to me are only tenuous.
‘You know the dogs also function on nano?’ Damian says, ripping his eyes from Vix. ‘Maybe you got crossed lines,’ he jokes.
‘Maybe.’

We’re cut short by a flurry of activity at the door. I’ve been aware of a low peripheral clamour, but now it erupts. There are people shoving, wine spilling from glasses and yelps of dismay.
‘This is a private function!’ Jonathan of all people yells, spouting clichés at the rush of people in black pushing in through the crowd, their faces blurred like they’re anonymous informants in documentary footage. It is so disturbing, that it takes me a second to catch on that they’re wearing smear masks. Another to realise that they’re carrying pangas and a prog-saw.
A few people scream, sending out a reverb chorus from Woof & Tweet. The crowd presses backwards. But then the big guy in
front yells, ‘Death to corporate art!’ and Emily, the woman who dissed my work, laughs scornfully and really loudly. ‘Oh god! Performance art. How gauche.’ There are murmurs of relief and snickers, and the living organism that is the crowd reverses direction, now pressing in again to see.
Damian grabs my arm and pulls me back out of the front line, because I haven’t moved, just as one of the men (women?), towering over the others, grabs Emily by her hair and drags her forward, forcing her to her knees, spitting with contempt, ‘Don’t you dare make me complicit in your garbage!’
The terrorist raises the panga, pulling back Emily’s head by the roots of her hair, exposing her throat. She raises a hand to her mouth, pretends to stifle a yawn.
‘Are you going to chop me into little itty-bitty pieces now? This is so melodramatic.’ And it is. The crowd is riveted. But I didn’t think this kind of promotional stunt would be Sanjay’s thing.

From the bar, Toby catches my eye and mimes mock applause to the spectacle. Vix has her hands clamped tight round his arm, looking shocked and excited at the same time. And that seems to be the prevailing mood. Not outrage or fear, but excitement.
People are grinning, nodding, eyes overbright, which makes it seem all the more horrific.
But what frightens me most is the reaction of one of the men in smear. When the protagonist yanks Emily’s head further back, the other guy moves forward, as if frightened himself.
‘What are you–?’ he starts, but the one with Emily’s hair twisted round his wrist gives an impatient jerk of his head, and his hesitant friend backs off. Bowing his legs, he raises the arm with the panga as if to slice across her throat, only at the last instant – so late that she winces back involuntarily – he deflects the blow to a side-swipe, aimed not at her, but at Woof & Tweet, which is directly in front of them.
The thing emits a lean crackle of white noise. The audience is rapt, camera phones clicking. There is a scattershot of applause, and laughter, as the others move in, four of them, with one guarding the door, to start laying into it. It’s only when the artist starts wailing that it becomes apparent that this was not part of the program. And only then do the smiles drop from mouths, like glasses breaking.
Mr Hesitant hangs back as the others step in, pangas tearing through the thin flesh and ribs of Khanyi Nkosi’s thing with a noise like someone attacking a bicycle with an axe. The machine responds with a high-hat backbeat for the melody assembled from the screams and skitters of nervous laughter. It doesn’t die quietly, transmuting the ruckus, the frantic calls to the SAPS, and Khanyi wailing, clawing, held back by a throng of people. It’s like it’s screaming through our voices, the
background noise, the context.
The bright sprays of blood make it real, spattering the walls, people’s faces, my prints, as the blades thwack down again and again. The police sirens in the distance are echoed and distorted as Woof & Tweet finally collapses in on itself, rattling with wet smacking sounds.
They disappear into the streets as quickly as they came, shaking
the machetes at us, threatening don’t follow, whooping like kids. With the sirens closing in, the big guy spits on the mangled corpse. Then, before he ducks out the door and into the night, he glances up once, quickly, at the ceiling. No one else seems to notice, but I follow his gaze up to the security cams, getting every angle.
I’m sick with adrenalin. The woman who was taken hostage is screaming in brittle, hyperventilating gasps. Her friend is trying to wipe the blood off her face, using the hem of her dress, unaware that she has lifted it so high that she is flashing her lacy briefs. Khanyi is kneeling next to the gobs of her animal construct, trying to reassemble it, smearing herself with the bloody lumps of flesh. There is a man trying to comfort one of the drinksgirls, but he is the one weeping, laid waste by the shock. Toby is clambering down from the bar, why I don’t know, Mr Muller is sitting slumped on the staircase, hugging the banister like a friend. Vix fumbles with lighting a cigarette, her hands shaking, until Damian materialises by her side, takes her hands in his, and holds the lighter steady. She folds into him like a collapsible paper lantern. And even from here, I can see him mouth her name. I hadn’t even realised he was gone.

There is still a prevailing undercurrent of thrill, a rush from the violence – no one was hurt, apart from Khanyi Nkosi’s thing. Everyone is on their phones, taking pictures, talking.
Toby is shouting above the ruckus, into his mic, like he’s reporting live. There are even more people trying to wedge into the space, so that the cops, who have finally arrived, have to shove their way inside. Self Portrait is covered in a mist of blood. I move to wipe it clean, although I’m scared the blood will smear, will stain the paper, but just then Jonathan wraps his arms around me and kisses my neck. And now it’s my turn to collapse against him.
‘It’s okay, sweetheart, everything’s going to be okay.’

MOXYLAND by Lauren Beukes

JULY 2009
UK/Australia 320pp B-format paperback and eBook

OCTOBER 2009
US/Canada 386pp mass-market paperback

Charles Stross says: “It’s what you get when you take your classic 80s deracinated corporate alienation sensibility, detonate about six kilos of semtex under it, and scatter the smoking wreckage across 21st century South Africa – full of unselfconscious spiky originality, the larval form of a new kind of SF munching its way out of the intestines of the wasp-paralysed caterpillar of cyberpunk.”

For more info on Lauren Beukes, check out her site here, and while you’re at it, go to Moxyland’s page at Angry Robot! 🙂

Be EPIC!

Next post: An Extract from Kaaron Warren’s Slights!

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2009 in Angry Robot

 

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Angry Robot: News!

angry-robot-2

Hey Guys and Girls, here’s some various news-bits from the great people over at Angry Robot!

First off, and you’ve probably seen this already elsewhere, Dan Abnett joins Angry Robot (as of 19 March)! 🙂


We are delighted to announce we’ve signed noted SF & Fantasy author Dan Abnett for three original novels, for a substantial five-figure advance.

Dan made his name in the tie-in SF and Fantasy fiction field, selling more than 1.2 million copies in English language of his Warhammer 40,000 novels for Games Workshop’s Black Library imprint. They’ve also been translated into ten other languages. He’s also recently made the UK fiction charts with original Torchwood and Doctor Who novels. His comicbook scripts, for major publishers such as Marvel, DC Comics and the UK’s 2000 AD, have attracted critical plaudits and strong sales on both sides of the Atlantic.

The three novels for Angry Robot will allow Abnett to play to all his strengths as a writer. His penchant for wildly imaginative world-building and lovable characters comes to the fore in TRIUMPH, a ribald, swashbuckling alternate history set in a warped version of our present day … only with Elizabeth the XXX on the throne, ushering a new Elizabethan age of wonder and exploration. This will be published, in both the UK and US, in October 2009.
Next year will see two novels set in the same stunning future-war setting. EMBEDDED sends a journalist into the frontline of a distant planetary war… chipped inside the head of a combat veteran. When the soldier is killed, the journo must use all his resourcefulness to get safely home again, reporting on a live feed all the way. No one writes future war as well as Dan Abnett, and fans of tie-in series such as “Gaunt’s Ghosts” and his “Horus Heresy” novels will be blown away by this bold new move into original science fiction.

Great news! Now, I haven’t yet had the chance to read any of Dan Abnett’s work, and even BL’s (Black Library) books have only recently (within the last 4 to 6 months) been appearing in book shops here in SA, so I’m very pleased by this!

Next up, did you think Lauren Beukes was just an author? Nope! Check out this link!

And here, Tim Waggoner takes us into The Making of Necropolis, a book that I’m itching to get my head into! 🙂

Now, check out this cover:

slights

Damn, that looks CREEPY! I’m definitely getting a copy of this when it hits the shelves!

And last, but not least, the announcement of a space opera with a difference:

We are absolutely delighted to announce our first truly crossover novel. We’re a huge fan of the crossover, and have been working hard behind the scenes to bring you something truly special and innovative. Something that will make other publishers think Why didn’t I think of that?

Novels that cross genre boundaries are not new, but with the release of Perl One (1 December, 2009) we’re not just crossing genres, we’re crossing media! Perl One is a space opera, huge in scope, with one big difference – it’s a “knit your own adventure”.

It can be read front-to back as a standard novel (and what a great novel it is!) but the truly innovative part is that the bottom 20% of every page is set aside for knitting instructions (in a mid-grey font so as not to detract from the prose). As the knitter completes each page, another clue is revealed within their fabric, and by halfway through, the knitter is able to influence the outcome of the story by choosing to knit one here, drop a stitch there, etc. There really has been nothing like this in fiction, ever!

The beauty of the format is that non-knitters can read the story like a straightforward novel (set on the asteroid Perl One, a renegade supersoldier must be brought to justice), and will lose nothing of the vitality of the story. Knitters, however, will get the added bonus of reading the first science fiction novel ever written with them in mind!
Perl One will be available to pre-order from May, and the sequel – The Needle of Axos – will be published by Angry Robot in mid-2010.

Although, looking at the original post, I’m thinking this in an April Fool prank… 🙂

Be fantastic!

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2009 in Angry Robot

 

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