cover image Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing

Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing

Lauren Beukes. Tachyon, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-61696-240-1

In this hard-hitting collection, South African author Beukes (Broken Monsters) mixes present-day realism with science fiction, and flash fiction with personal essays. These are not nice stories. The characters bleed and sometimes die; those who don’t have learned how to fight back. Highlights include “Smileys,” a story set in present-day South Africa, in which an old woman bringing home sheep heads to cook for resale is hounded by a soldier who foolishly hopes to extort money from her; “The Green,” which concerns conscripts living in awful conditions on a deadly jungle planet, where they gather valuable flora and fauna for their uncaring corporate masters; “Pop Tarts,” set in a near future where the best friend of a hot reality star discovers that every moment of her friend’s life is scripted and filmed, even her kidnapping; and “The Unaccounted,” which concerns a prison commander on an alien planet who finds it harder and harder to differentiate between his alien prisoners and their human jailers. Whether they’re set in modern-day Johannesburg or on a planet circling a distant star, these powerful, beautifully written stories are always about today and the darkness of the human soul. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath Literary (U.K.). (Dec.)