the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Lauren Beukes’ Category

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Thanks to the amazing organization skills of Rinn over at Rinn Reads, we’re right in the heart of  Science Fiction Month. And I’ve noticed something. Something wonderful: lots of folks who are participating in SciFi Month are completely new to science fiction.

This is fantastic!  That so many people who have never picked up a science  fiction book are interested in giving some weird stuff a try, it warms my heart.  Getting into science fiction isn’t always easy.   Strange names, alien planets, technobabble, far future technologies. . .  it can be a bit much.  Luckily, there are plenty (countless, actually) of “gate way” books, books that take place right now, or maybe a few years in the future, or even a few years in past. Books that don’t leave the solar system, maybe don’t even leave the Earth. You don’t need to be fluent in technobabble or have a degree in astronomy to enjoy these. You just need to turn the first page. . .

to help you on your journey into scifi, I’ve linked the titles to my reviews.  If you have any suggestions for other gateway books, let everyone know in the comments!

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett – After her parent’s death, Mona inherits her Mom’s old house in a sleepy town in the southwest. It’s one of those old fashioned towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the oldsters remember all the family secrets. there are family secrets, and then there are Family Secrets. How will Mona react when she learns her own?

In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. I love Kage Baker, it’s as simple as that. This novel is the first of her Company Series. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you won’t feel sucked into reading another long series. Mendoza is an operative with a company that collects historical artifacts, and they’ve turned her into an immortal cyborg, of sorts. She spies on people, but can’t tell anyone who or what she is. Really sucks, when she falls in love with someone on her first mission. This book is as heartbreaking as it is funny. By the way, I’ve got a review of some Kage Baker Company short stories that’ll be posting in a few days.

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Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes

first published in 2008

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it: I really enjoyed Beukes’ Zoo City

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in a not so distant future, connectivity is everything. Not only does your cell phone connect you to your friends and family (not to mention the internet), but the government and local police use it as a tracking device, and when necessary a punishment device. Disconnectivity by government order can equal a death sentence for some, as your phone is also your public transit pass, your pass to get into work, and your pass to get through certain city checkpoints. It also screams tech-based apartheid. May sound shocking to you and I, But to the youth and 20-somethings of South Africa, they grew up with this – to them it’s completely normal.

ahh, taking technologies and the social order and making their uncomfortable side effects feel normal, that’s just one thing Beukes excels at. All of our characters, Kendra,the art school drop out turned PR guinea pig; Toby, the LARPer  with dreams of taking down the government; Tendeka the children’s charity organizer whose getting sick of losing funding; and Lerato, the programming genius who thinks she knows it all.
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Behold!  LRR’s end of year listy thing!  (Yay peer pressure!)

Favorite book of 2010: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.  Words can not describe how much I loved this book. It turned me into a blabbering fangirl.

Favorite newly discovered author of 2010Joe Abercrombie.  Okay, so his First Law trilogy was published before 2010, but I read, no, I devoured this trilogy during the second half of 2010.  this is the uncut good shit.

Best twist in a SF/F novel:  Mark Hodder’s Springheeled Jack. If you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it,  you still have a few days of vacation left, so what are you waiting for?

Favorite newly discovered character is a  Big ole tie between:  Joe Abercrombie’s Sand dan Glotka, Lauren Beukes’ Zinzi December, and Mike Resnick’s Doc Holliday. Me, have a weakness for tragic characters? no way!

Favorite graphic novel Rising Stars by J. Michael Strazcynski.  It’s not new, but it was new to me.

Favorite Manga:  Nana, by Ai Yazawa.  I love Shojo.  Who knew?

Book most looking forward to in 2011: Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss

what were your favorites for 2011?

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes is one of those wonderful books that what it’s about isn’t at all what it’s about. It’s about Zinzi December, and her knack for finding lost things, and the dangerous mystery she gets herself involved with when she gets hired to find a teen starlet whose gone missing. And yes, that’s what it’s about. But it isn’t about that at all. Zoo City is about how society treats the marginalized – the destitute, the different, the criminal class. On top of that, there is some wonderfully hella cool magic. 

Although she and I are very different, on every page I felt I could relate to Zinzi December. I have never spent time in prison, she has. I am not marginalized, she is. I don’t make a living scamming people over the internet, she does. But the trust issues? The anti-socialness? Her realistic attitude that comes off as cynicism? He reaction when her lover says he’s leaving? Oh baby can I relate. Maybe we’re not so different after all. 

In this alternate world, every jail sentence is a life sentence, no matter what. When you commit a crime, your animal comes for you. Not a totem and not a familiar, the animal brings a special talent with it, and being separated from your animal causes physical pain and death in some cases. And if your animal dies before you do? The Undertow will come for you. Governments learn very quickly how to identify and exploit this new class of undesireables, known derogatorily as Animalled or Zoos. 

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About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.