Raymond Chandler On Crack In A Brave New South Africa

New Sci Fi thriller, Zoo City, subverts the tropes of hard-boiled noir and reminds readers what Urban Fantasy truly means
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Urban Fantasy
Fantasy Fiction
South Africa

• Fiction

Queens - New York - US

Feb. 9, 2011 - PRLog -- February 9, 2011--It’s a world not far removed from our own; a world of corrupt media giants, unscrupulous newspapermen, and unctuous music execs; where a person’s worth is measured by their latest social network status and a celebrity is only as important as their imdb listing; where citizens are simultaneously blessed and cursed, literally handicapped, with powers drawn from the bestial avatars of those whose death they’ve caused.

In this world, a former addict and scam artist, Zinzi December, survives by using the special powers provided by a sloth to find lost objects for the wealthy and powerful. But when a client is murdered, will her unique abilities work when it comes to finding the truth?

In the dark chaotic near-future Johannesburg, Beukes presents a startling new vision of an African city, so recently popularized by District 9, that is at once magical, yet also gritty, raw and deeply flawed. Her use of magic illuminates the mundane, sharpening the edges of reality, and thus creating a world more bleak and actual in the process.

A self-described “recovering journalist,” Beukes has an ear for dialogue ingrained from working the streets. Her words crackle with the kind of refreshing vitality and timelessness found in transcendent works of speculative fiction like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange, and Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Her heroine Zinzi December is sass personified, spitting in the face of the traditional wise-cracking down-on-their-luck P.I. archtype. She’s a survivor, an opportunist, a crook, and yet more relatable and endearing because of it.

Using her own experiences in the new dimension created by social /online networking Lauren has peppered Zoo City with imdb-style page snapshots, newspaper clippings, kick-ass music interviews, all in the characteristic voice and stylings of their respective source inspirations. This clever use of multi-media plot devices allows Beukes to keep the story alive by circumnavigating the need for blocks of exposition, and thus imbues the text with an exuberance and creative flair that satisfies without sacrificing. It also enables Ping-Ponging points-of-view that pop throughout without sacrificing Zinzi’s overall narrative.

Earning a rare and distinguished Starred Review, Publishers Weekly wrote that Beukes’ work on Zoo City “delivers a thrill ride that gleefully merges narrative styles and tropes, almost single-handedly pulling the “urban fantasy” subgenre back towards its groundbreaking roots;” while 2009 Hugo Award–nominated writer and creator of Fables, Bill Willingham, said Beukes “writes better than I wish I could on my best day. If our words are bullets, Lauren Beukes is a marksman in a world of drunken machine-gunners, firing her ideas and images into us with a sly and deadly accuracy, wasting nothing, never missing.”

Shortlisted for the prestigious British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel, which will be announced in April, Zoo City is quickly becoming a must-read for 2011.

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In 2010 The Osprey Group acquired Angry Robot from HarperCollins. Formed in 2008 and with its first books publishing in 2009, Angry Robot aims to provide innovative science fiction and fantasy books in all formats everywhere.
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Tags:Urban Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, South Africa, Noir
Location:Queens - New York - United States
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