Slipping: Stories, Essays, & Other WritingSlipping: Stories, Essays, & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

this is a collection of previously-published material and like all collections, it’s highs and lows, highs and lows, but even more so here since the material was written over the course of ten years of beukes’ writerly development. judging by the names of some of the anthologies/journals in which these stories first appeared, her contributions may have been commissioned and specifically tailored to the theme of the collection, and operating within dictated parameters doesn’t always produce the best work, so it’s understandable that some of these are stronger than others.

the ones that are good are very good, indeed, and the collection is a diverse mix of science fiction, flash fiction, dark fantasy, crime fiction, with the recurring themes of dehumanization and a frightening vision of the future, both in a general sense and in her native south africa, with the repercussions of its particular history. the stories are steeped in social commentary, particularly the abuse of technology – medical or social media, scams and catfishing. there are also 5 nonfiction pieces representing beukes’ journalism career.

bit by bit:

Muse (2010)

flash fiction – 68 words.

it’s short, but it does its job – a dark droplet of an angela carter-feeling reverie about the creative process.

Slipping (2014)

the title track, this story features the +Games, a sort of futuristic olympics in which all contestants have been enhanced with superhuman abilities, provided with sympathy-baiting backstories and exploited by promoters to show off “look what we can do with the human body” to entice pharmaceutical, medical, or military interests. beukes’ speculative futurefear at its best.

Confirm/Ignore (2010)

short, but excellent little story about all the wonderful possibilities the anonymity of the internet provides … for creeps.

chilling, yes, but this made me laugh:

But who of us can claim to be truly original? Aren’t we all remixes of every influence we’ve ever come across? Love something, let it go. If it comes back, it’s a meme. There’s a double me in meme.

Branded (2003)

i’ve only read The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters – i haven’t read either Moxyland or Zoo City but i know what they are, in terms of themes and genre: futuristic urban fantasy with slang and drugs and street punks. this story seems to have come from that artistic period, and it’s fine, but i have a feeling if i were to read her urban fantasy stuff, i wouldn’t like them as much as i loved the ones i’ve already read.

oh, and there’s a handy glossary in the back of this book deciphering south african slang, if that’s not something you already have in your brain.

Smileys (2005)

crime and survival in south africa – political unrest and its trickling-down to those suffering on the very bottom of the power spectrum and how those people should not be underestimated.

Princess (2008)

fairy tale pornography! it’s a broad retelling of the princess and the pea, where the pea is found, not beneath the teetering pile of mattresses, quilted and cotton-rich, with pocket coils and high-density foam, but nestled among the wiry coils between her legs.

told from the faithful handmaid’s perspective, this is a story about celebrity exploitation and the mother of all paparazzi upskirt angling.

this was written for Open: Erotic Stories by South African Women, which goes back to what i said about wanting to know why these were written and if she would have written this on her own.

My Insect Skin (2003)

short and intense, with no way to write about it further without spoiling. just … intense.

Parking (2005)

obsession, stalking, abuse of power, and yet i can’t help feeling a little sad for the character’s creepy stalker ass.

Pop Tarts (2004)

another celebrity culture tale, where reality tv is anything but, where characters are built, media is manipulated, people are props, and those who knew you when are disgusted and sad but roped in for the ride.

The Green (2012)

even scarier than toxoplasmosis! this is one of the longest stories in the collection, which is good, because it actually has room to develop, and it’s a wonderfully unsettling tale of medical advancements, the people who get paid to be guinea pigs, and the horror of … the pinocchios…

Litmash (2012)

this might be my favorite thing beukes has ever written – apparently, during some twitter fiction festival, I asked followers to propose genre mash-ups and wrote tweet-sized stories, live.

the fact that she can do this on the spot and have them be so funny and clever (which are two different things), is amazing. and since this is all on the twitter, i don’t feel bad about copying out the ones in the book, and there are more examples here:

#Sex&TheDystopianCity I

Picked up the most adorable bespoke pink tutu. Only had to gun down eight people. #win #summer-sales.

#Sex&TheDystopianCity II

Miranda was the first to go. All the lawyers up against the wall. Carrie was executed for looting. Samantha ran a brothel for a while. But Supreme General Commander Charlotte came out best of all. She always was the most ruthless.


Hell is sex with other people.


They shaved Animal to reveal the map, Gonzo picked the lock. But Warden Piggy was waiting for them. “Going somewhere, Frog?”


I am Benjamin Bunny’s vented spleen. His gutted innards. His roast haunch on a plate.


Ain’t no rainbows here, Dash said. Not since Pinkie Pie turned up hooves up in an alley.

#ColdWarFairyTale I

The sad truth was that magic gets mired in bureaucratic red tape, same as everything.

#ColdWarFairyTale II

He opened up the warhead and found her heart. All glass and nuclear love.

i could read an entire book of these…

Easy Touch (2009)

a story of a scam artiste and his various tactics and how you ought never to get too complacent in the work that you do.

Algebra (2006)

a relationship told through the letters of the alphabet (a is for algebra, b is for braggadocio, etc), where each segment is given a few paragraphs to develop the story. sounds gimmicky, but it’s really nicely done.

Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs (2010)

this one i did not like at all. but it may be that i haven’t read enough Haruki Murakami, who features here as a character. maybe i’m missing out on references and nods, but i just didn’t get anything out of this one, which is weird, since i usually love b-movie weirdness.

Dear Mariana (2004)

another wonderfully skewed relationship story. oh, that lauren beukes, she is a dark lady, indeed. but what about the cat, beukes?? what about the cat?

Riding with the Dream Patrol (2011)

fake journalism from a real journalist, set six years into the future at the time of writing, and one year from present-day. one can’t help but wonder how much of this is based on real experiences, with her reasonably projecting the likely state of journalism when it runs up against politics in the fuuuuutuuuure.

Unaccounted (2011)

He is aware that he isn’t qualified to know what is inappropriate anymore.

a science fiction-y allegory on what prolonged war and occupation does to trained soldiers – the boredom filled with casual cruelty, the lapses in discipline and protocol, the mistreatment of the indigenous population and prisoners. it’s a mess. and not just because of the spiny gastropods.

Tankwa-Karoo (2014)

lauren beukes channels o. henry and it gets horrifying. love this one so much.

Exhibitionist (2006)

the fine line between performance art and terrorism.

Dial Tone (2005)

short and sad – in a world that boasts its connectivity and ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, how can you still feel so alone?

it made me want to listen to this song. so i did.

Ghost Girl (2008, 2011)

a cute story about a young student architect and the ghost of a little girl who latches onto him.


Adventures in Journalism (2005)
All the Pretty Corpses (2013)
Judging Unity (2006)
Inner City (2013)
On Beauty: A Letter to My Five-Year-Old Daughter (2014)

i don’t feel like summarizing the nonfiction, because this has already taken foreeever to review (as do all short story collections). suffice it to say, she’s quite good at narrative nonfiction, and i’d happily read more of it, i just don’t feel like doing the review-thing for it.

now i need a new novel from her, stat!


what do we have here??

read my reviews on goodreads

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amazon Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including but not limited to,, or,,, or


this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

To Top