Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writings

A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. A young architect’s life is derailed by an inquisitive girl who happens to be a ghost. Unwitting recruits discover biohazardous plants on an inhospitable planet. Loyalty to a favourite product can be addictive when it gets under your skin.


“An art installation so tactile as to feel alive, a ghost that lurks alongside a promising architecture student, a girl gutted from the inside to make a premiere athlete: all stitched together into a punk tapestry of stories and other short pieces. Cape Town author Beukes (Zoo City, 2016, etc.) makes good use of her South African homeland, though she often turns Johannesburg and Cape Town into futuristic wastelands, as in “The Green,” a sci-fi militaristic nightmare of a short story, or “Riding with the Dream Patrol,” an unsettling look at where our cyberfuture could be headed (hint: bad places). There are also more straightforwardly bizarre entries, bordering on pure science fiction but never losing Beukes’ dark comedic edge, particularly “Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs,” wherein a fighter pilot (a woman, of course) must save Tokyo. Also, there are talking cats to spice things up (where there are hairballs, there must be cats). Some of the most effective pieces are the shortest, such as “Dial Tone,” where Beukes evokes the lonely desperation of her nameless narrator in less than four pages, as the character places crank calls and is often simply soothed by the dial tone. Or “Confirm/Ignore,” in which the narrator berates readers, and society at large, for their obsession with pop culture: “One day I get Bette Davis and Bettie Page confused. This is not my fault. It’s yours.” Her brief autobiographical pieces—on her first forays into journalism and a letter to her young daughter on the meaning of beauty—wrap up the slim volume nicely. Utterly bizarre and equally addictive, these pieces demonstrate that Beukes has only tapped the surface of her prodigious and wide-ranging talent with her novels.” Kirkus

“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.” Publishers Weekly

“A fantastic, comical, alternate historical dieselpunk affair . . . filled with astonishing characters, fine dialogue, and an abundance of ideas and is packaged with John Coulthart’s cool Futurist-Constructivist-inspired graphics, an introduction by graphic novelist Warren Ellis, and an interview with the author.” Booklist

“South African writer Beukes (Zoo CityBroken Monsters) showcases her evolution as an author with these 26 pieces—mostly short stories with a few nonfiction entries at the end. Stories such as “Branded” recall Beukes’s debut, Moxyland, with its combination of cyberpunk elements and South African patois. That distinct regional flavor gets sanded out of some of the later tales, which hop among genres deftly. One of the more bizarre, “Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs,” features a cameo by magical realism author ­Haruki Murakami. Some selections are more likely to appeal to readers unfamiliar with Beukes. For example, “The Green” is a fantastically creepy sf story of grunt soldiers on a planet with invasive local flora. Another good starting point is the title story “Slipping,” which tells of a runner who has undergone extensive physical modifications. VERDICT Even the early stories, many set in Beukes’s native Johannesburg, have a rough energy and imagination that shows why she ­remains an author to watch. Library Journal

“Beukes writes with passion and a hot immediacy, employing demotic prose that often attains a gritty poetry. She favors capturing the explosive instant rather than the multi-linked chain of circumstances that constitute most stories.” Locus

“Shows off [Beukes’] skill across a range of genres . . . brilliant.” New York Journal of Books

“Tantalizing, dark, and thought-provoking.” Booklist

“Exceptional on all counts . . . Slipping is an essential collection, one of the year’s best.” Barnes & Noble Sci Fi & Fantasy Blog

Lauren Beukes’s distinct voice and viewpoint have positioned her as one of the freshest, most exciting talents in writing today. Slipping will only further her reputation.” Cemetery Dance

 “Being Beukes, hard topics are described and explored, and being Beukes one can easily trust in the author to be both sensitive, intelligent and eloquent throughout.” Ventureadlaxre

“Lauren Beukes is one of the most talented writers working today. Moving from witty to sad to horrifying, she makes it all seem effortless. We’re lucky to finally have her short work in one place.” —Richard Kadrey, author of the Sandman Slim series and The Everything Box

“Lauren Beukes is one of the best we’ve got, and this fierce collection, showing the full breadth of her remarkable talent, is a pure dark joy.” —Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine and Transmetropolitan

“Lauren Beukes is a remarkable talent, that rare writer who can go in any direction she desires and always deliver. In Slipping you have the chance to see her at her most versatile and powerful. A wonderful collection from one of the strongest voices in the game.” —Michael Koryta, author of So Cold the River and Those Who Wish Me Dead

Slipping is a dizzying array of stories, a “greatest hits” from a prolific and imaginative writer. There’s a mash of scenarios and genres from alternative histories to Manga, cyberpunk to feminist fairy tale. It’s kick-ass speculative fiction with brains and heart. 10/10 stars.” Starburst

“Lauren Beukes is one of the most creative, thought-provoking writers working today, and Slipping puts us right in the bloody depths of her brain and gives us an intimate tour. This book writhes with ideas and undeniable energy.” —Steph Cha, author of Dead Soon Enough

“While each story in this collection is unique, they all have that one piece in common that make me so passionate about [Beukes’s] previous novels—there’s a sense of some underlying real world threat in even the most intensely science fiction story lines. Much like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the reader is left with feelings of unease, that though what you’ve just read is fiction, it still hits too close to home to not make you nervous.” Pages and Pints

“The dazzling short pieces collected in Slipping, which range from reportage to tender bits of personal reflection to weird sci-fi horror, together serve to confirm the impression Beukes already created in her novels: this is a writer who can do anything.” —Ben H. Winters, author of Underground Airlines and the Last Policeman series

“A ferocious collection from our brightest, sharpest talent.” —Adam Christopher, author of Made to Kill

“Bold, brazen, and brilliant—now this is a collection to die for. Beukes fearlessly skewers personal relationships, social injustice and pop culture (among other things), and every story is a masterclass in flair, wit and fresh ideas.” —Sarah Lotz, author of The Three and Day Four

Slipping is a rare surprise, and one that demonstrates Beukes wide-ranging talent. Whether she’s writing about corporate branded future punks and celebrants, or the downtrodden casual menaces of daily life, from a compilation of tweets to a handful of remarkable non-fiction essays, her stories prove, repeatedly, that she is a masterful writer and that she has a voice that absolutely must be heard. Hold on tight to this one—you do not want it to slip away.” —Michael Patrick Hicks, author of Emergence

“Everyone should be reading this author and start tracking her wonderful talent with characters.” —Brad K. Horner

“Not only is [Beukes] quite adept at the strange science that surrounds time travel, a la The Shining Girls, she’s quite skilled at crafting the perfect and perfectly horrible short work . . . literature in all its darkness and beauty.”
Drunk in a Graveyard

Slipping is a diverse and fascinating collection of stories and essays. It contained some of the most thought provoking pieces I have read in a long time.” Femlitica

“Lauren Beukes, judging from these tales, is one of the best fictional chroniclers of modern life per se.” See the Elephant

“If you have read [Beukes] before, you definitely need to get on it with this book, whether you like science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, or just plain weird.” This Ain’t Livin’

“Satirically glamorous, Bruce Sterling’s Pirate Utopia (2016, Tachyon) captures a comically refined view of the proceedings as only Bruce Sterling can.” Speculition

 “Based in Greek myth, Summerlong is Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series for adults and is equally compelling. Here, just as Abe, Joanna, and Lily become strangely mesmerized by Lioness, so too the reader becomes so drawn into this novel that it is impossible to put aside.” Curious Mind Garden

“Slick and stylish, Beukes’ visions of the future both entertain and alarm in the way that great science fiction should.” Pop Culture Beast

 “Each of these stories are wildly authentic, vastly entertaining, and a constant focus on the darkness in this world.” For the Love of Words

“Weird and wonderful … Slipping is a staggering mix of horror, crime, humor, dystopian views, and science fiction.” Lit Reactor

“Lauren Beukes has established herself as one of the genre’s most exciting voices. The stories assembled here not only show off her eclectic range of influences and interests, but the strength of her voice, her passion for her subjects, and that fantastic blend of anger, analysis, sensitivity and wit.” Sci Fi Now

 “Lauren Beukes’s fiction starts with big ideas and runs them through an assortment of permutations . . . incisive writing.” Vol. 1 Booklyn

 “Beukes’s writing is acerbic, sharp, and intuitive” Fairy Bookmother

“Beukes captures the essence of what it means to be alive in all its many forms, as the life force of the characters tears itself right off the page and meets the reader head on.” Strange Alliances

“Whether the story takes place in present day, the near future, or somewhere else entirely, through sharp use of dialogue and description, readers instantly get a handle on her characters as they experience fear, love, hate, joy, confusion, exploitation, and adventure. The stories are funny and freaky, sad and scary. They are bold and beautiful, violent and vibrant. 10/10 stars.” Fantasy Faction

 Slipping is a stunning, diverse collection of genre-spanning short fiction by one of South Africa’s best speculative fiction authors.” Worlds in Ink

“This is an excellent collection of stories, essays, and tidbits.” Fat Robot

“I knew going in that Beukes was a powerfully talented wordsmith; Slipping broadened my appreciation more than I was expecting. Very highly recommended.” Christopher East

“…a lively mix of 19 stories, a set of twitter mash-up stories, a poem, and five non-fiction pieces.” Locus, Year in Review

“This was hit after hit of what I like best about [Beukes’] writing: sly, sharp digs at who we are, who we want to be, and the tricks we fall for, all with a gritty, near-future cyberpunk backdrop.” —Rhian Bowley, author of The Dream Feeders

“Lauren Beukes is a fantastic writer, no doubt about that.” Fiction Fantastic