Slipping: Stories, Essays and Other Writing

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 favorite product can be addictive when it gets under your skin. In her edgy and satiric debut collection, award-winning South African author Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls) never holds back. Ranging from Johannesburg to outer space, Beukes is a fierce and captivating presence in the literary landscape.

Advance praise for Slipping

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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

About the Author

Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls) is an internationally award-winning and bestselling South African author. Her novels include Broken Monsters, Zoo City, and Moxyland. Her graphic novel work includes Vertigo’s Survivor’s Club, the Fablesspin-off Fairest, and Wonder Woman. Beukes’s nonfiction has been published in magazines including The Hollywood Reporter, The Sunday Times, Marie Claire, and Elle.

Her fiction has won praise from the likes of Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, James Ellroy, Gillian Flynn, and her writing has been translated into twenty-six languages. Her books have been regularly featured in best of the year roundups by outlets such as NPR, Amazon, and the Los Angeles Times. Amongst her many honors, Beukes has received the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the University of Johannesburg prize, and the Strand Critics Choice Award. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

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