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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the Next Revolution
One of the main themes of this book is summarized by a character we never meet, a name on a web message board:

"Call it mass-scale compassion fatigue or selfish genes or the obvious conclusion capitalism has always been headed for, but the reality is people don't give a flying f**k, they've seen all the old strategies before, they're tired and worse, they're...
Published on 11 Dec 2009 by Diziet

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well thoughtout and inspiring premise that lacks any further depth to the storyline
Lauren Beukes's debut novel `Moxyland' saw the Cape Town based TV scriptwriter and occasional journalist putting together a full length novel into the extremely competitive gritty urban sci-fi market place with a novel set in a dystopian not-too-far-off future.

Set in Cape Town (yep...the hometown of the author), the year is now 2018 and society is ruled by the...
Published on 7 Jan 2010 by Chris Hall


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the Next Revolution, 11 Dec 2009
By 
Diziet "I Like Toast" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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One of the main themes of this book is summarized by a character we never meet, a name on a web message board:

"Call it mass-scale compassion fatigue or selfish genes or the obvious conclusion capitalism has always been headed for, but the reality is people don't give a flying f**k, they've seen all the old strategies before, they're tired and worse, they're boring, and if there's one thing our culture doesn't stand for...it's boredom". (p126)

Couple a shallow, hedonistic society with the 'Politics of Fear', a dystopian near-future reminiscent of more recent William Gibson; set the whole thing in South Africa and you've pretty much got the scene.

Told in the first person by four characters - Tendeka the revolutionary, Lerato the disaffected programmer, Toby the post-punk would-be reporter and Kendra, photographer and 'trend-setter', I thought it was going to be a bit of a grind as the narrative switched back to cover the same events from each character's point of view. But it doesn't. Instead, each character takes up the story from the point at which the previous character left off. That's great - keeps the narrative going nicely - but it also seems to mean that the characters are, by and large, fairly interchangeable. Although each uses language in his/her own way, they're not really fully formed people.

The technology is, for the most part, scarily believable and I can easily imagine social control agencies (such as the SAPS - 'South African Police Service') very much wanting some of the gadgets portrayed. But in some ways, the book also looks back. Although one of the characters is quite rude about Joseph Conrad, there is a kind of 'Secret Agent' theme going too.

Saying all that, it is a really good read. But, finally, I have to admit I found it pretty depressing, in very much the same way that Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four doesn't leave much room for optimism. Maybe that was the aim - maybe that is the most realistic view to take in our dawning 'Brave New World'. All in all, though, this is an author to watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - chillingly believable, 24 Nov 2009
By 
Mark P. (British Isles) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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This was a great read - well paced, cleverly interwoven narratives, easy to visualise environment, and an element of technology that doesn't feel too far fetched or unrealistic.
It is probably this last point that made the novel work for me - from things like the BabyStrange camera/display unit coat, to the massively-multiplayer games (both virtual and real), and best of all the use of a haemmorhagic fever virus as a means of crowd control which is only fatal if you don't report to an immunity centre for treatment within 48 hours... so you get cured, but can easily be arrested - fantastic!

Saying all that, the blurb reads "What's really going on? Who's really in charge? You have No. F******. Idea." - implying that you're going to struggle to piece things together; now maybe I missed something (I'll know when I go back to read it again) but I didn't really come across any deep mysteries as it implies. The narrative threads linked together cleverly, and it gradually became clear that there were all manner of different shenanigans going on from all quarters - but all still perfectly understandable. No matter, it's only a story, and the blurb was probably written by a marketing bod who'd had too much wine at lunchtime and couldn't follow it all properly.

I was a bit concerned to start with by all the glowing praise on the covers and first page, as it makes me wonder whether the reviewers are friends, or have been coerced, or perhaps are all just jumping on the bandwagon - but fortunately in this case it is all well-deserved...

If you like this genre (or rather any one of the multiple genres that overlap to make this book!) then I'm pretty sure that you'll enjoy this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The near future, with sharp edges left bare, 28 Nov 2009
By 
Roy A Ellor "Roy Ellor" (Salford, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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Not an easy or fluffy book to read this. It is set in the South Africa of the near future, prior to the coming singularity where man and machine are joined and corporate behemoths rule the globe.

Various characters tell their tales in chapter format as the story unfolds, of a society where technology has teeth and citizens are part of the advertising food chain. There is an undertone throughout the book that this story is set just prior to some seismic upheaval in science that will further blur the boundaries, but it isn't proving to be an easy birth as there exists both direct control and active resistance to corporations managing the lives of the protagonists. Mobile phones are the key to living in this evolving world, and they can bite back with pacifier circuitry resembling a taser that can be activated to stun the user.

If you like cyberpunk sci-fi, then this will definitely be up your literary street. For others, it isn't tech-heavy but does have a degree of futuristic street-slang which isn't difficult to interpret. Very snappily written, with those rough edges of the emerging society left beautifully bared and an excellent piece of work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinister cyber Sci Fi - Superb!, 30 Sep 2009
By 
K. Moss "Book Nerd" (Co. Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
Sci Fi is not my normal genre but boy am I glad I chose to read this one. If you, like me, tend to prejudge based on previous experience of badly written visions of the future then please please PLEASE stop and read this.

The plot, set in the not-too-distant future, is centred around five young people who are disconnected from each other and reality. Beukes's novel amplifies today's angst about money, inequality, image and branding and creates a world that is both very familiar and very very frightening. In Beukes's world nobody need engage on a human level because the lines between reality and 'virtual reality' are blurred. The result is a world where society is manipulated by big corporations utilising technology to control and subdue the people. Only those who have something to offer the corporations, who know how to work the 'system' get ahead.

Very few of the books I read leave me thinking for days afterwards. This did. You will not be disappointed, but be warned - the nice guy does not always come out on top.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well thoughtout and inspiring premise that lacks any further depth to the storyline, 7 Jan 2010
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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Lauren Beukes's debut novel `Moxyland' saw the Cape Town based TV scriptwriter and occasional journalist putting together a full length novel into the extremely competitive gritty urban sci-fi market place with a novel set in a dystopian not-too-far-off future.

Set in Cape Town (yep...the hometown of the author), the year is now 2018 and society is ruled by the subtly oppressive government that rules its quietly guided people alongside the all-powerful corporate body of a massive commercial enterprise. Technology has taken on numerous realistic advancements within the everyday lives of this commercially driven western culture, when compared with our current lifestyles.

The tale follows four principal characters as they carry on with their exaggerated lifestyles, gradually bringing together their individual storylines into a singular and dramatic plot thrust.

First to be introduced is Kendra, a young art-school dropout, pushing forwards with an inspiring and emotionally charged career in artistic photography that is soon to become extremely lucrative for her. After signing up to become one of the first `lifestyle branded' individuals, whose immune system is given a nano-technological-booster as a reward, the up-and-coming artist is soon thrust into the limelight after exhibiting alongside the `Damien Hurst' of the future - Khanyi Nkosi.

Next up is outrageously over-the-top, socially dysfunctional (in a mainstream sense), drug-taking techno-addict Toby. His offensive and out-and-out in your face webcasts are becoming more of a hit each day with the emotionally deprived and culturally bored youth of the day. His reporting techniques are vague and somewhat second place to a general commentary on his viewpoint of society. In being exactly who he is; Toby has managed to meet up with and become somewhat on the outskirts of joining a small and disorganised terrorist organisation whose mission is to disrupt the government and corporation powers that run their lives.

Tendeka is one of the guys behind the shoddy terrorist organisation. His quiet homosexuality shadows his previous failed marriage. Although he firmly believes he is fighting for a justified and righteous cause, he still maintains a general air of violence and rebellion that lacks any conviction towards a mature defiance against the oppressive authority. His `inspirational' speeches rallying the troupes are a haphazard affair at best. However, he is passionate about the cause and is ready to die for his beliefs.

Last but by no means least is Lerato, the only one of the group who has accepted the corporate lifestyle and is actually becoming quite successful within the highly competitive computer programming / software analyst market. However, Lerato has a wild side that has brought her into contact with the character of Toby; which in turn ultimately leads her to providing favours involving corporate sabotage for Tendeka.

When Tendeka is pushed further and further into acting out higher profile terrorist attacks on the streets of the city, there is only one reaction that can be expected by the government - a total clamp doing and investigation into the perpetrators. Each and every one of these young adults are about to have their otherwise mundane lives turned upside down within the next few days.

With a vast wealth of intelligent and inspired forethought put into predicting the technological advancements and social changes (such as the fashionable changes in dialogue), Beukes has created a novel that if nothing else, is highly believable in its futuristic likelihood. Ideas such as the `contact pen' which has minute barbs on its grip to extract DNA from the holder, which is the mixed in with the ink to include a DNA fingerprint on the signature. Another is Toby's `BabyStrange' coat that projects a slideshow of whatever changeable images he wants on the outer-fabric (often a distasteful choice with Toby).

The tale is predominately character driven with the chapters changing the first-person-perspective from one of the principal characters to the next throughout the entirety of the novel. This fragmented approach, staggers the storyline into a disjointed and reasonably slow paced affair.

The character of Toby delivers some much needed comical relief to the otherwise heavy-handed approach to emphasizing the cultural and technological advancements on show. Lerato is an instantly likeable character who is by far and away the most intriguing of them all.

As the storyline gradually builds towards what is now surely the most inevitable conclusion, Beukes delivers a finale which is initially somewhat expected and then quietly peters out the rest of the tale. This is a surprising ending for a book that has been hell-bent on forcing its over-the-top messages and ideas upon the reader.

Although an attempt was obviously made at tapping into some form of emotional response during the final pages of the book, Beukes certainly overestimates the connection the reader has with the characters involved, leaving instead, just a show of character and plot interaction and little else.

All in all, the novel is as disappointing as it is inspiring. The sheer obvious amount of thought that has gone in to creating this all-too-realistic future is a joy to envisage. However, this can not support a whole novel and the obvious overburdence put on this aspect of the book becomes tedious within a short space of time.

The book also contains a four page insight by the author into the writing and possible reality of the novel. The book also includes some annoyingly `want-to-be-street' stencil designs for spreading the word of Moxyland via urban graffiti.

The novel itself runs for a total of 304 pages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Near-future SF nearly works, 6 Jun 2010
By 
Robert Frampton "Rob Frampton" (Dartford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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Writing successful near-future SF is a tricky business. You risk not getting it right for the hardcore SF fans for whom it's 'not SF enough', and alienating the more casual reader 'because it's too weird'. There's also the danger that the author doesn't quite know what to do with central idea and hedges their bets in terms of how far to push the elements of the plot that separate science fiction from literary fiction.
Getting it right can produce some truly impressive work. I'm thinking particularly of Ian McDonald, whose 'Brasyl', 'Cybereabad Days' and 'River of Gods' are mind-spinning books where near-future tech has shifted society in a direction which is recognisably still of our world, but just out of reach enough for it to feel alien and disconcerting.
Lauren Beukes has had a good go at following this McDonald-like path, and the thriller elements of her novel are well-drawn, but she's rather hamstrung by the other side of the equation: making 'Moxyland' a youth novel which can be read by mobile-tech literate people of 2010. There is also the analogy with apartheid with youth disenfranchisement which feels a little too heavy-handed.
For these reasons 'Moxyland' falls short of being classic SF, but there is the germ of a good SF writer here provided Beaukes is willing to let go the reins a little more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars welcome to the near future, 3 Jan 2010
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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a 304 page novel set in near future south africa. It features four different main characters who are all young people all getting by in various ways.

there are lots of short chapters, each narrated in first person present tense by one of the four. And they all talk in a style that is initially difficult to get used to, not least because a lot of it is related to gadgets and technology.

We follow these four characters as they get through their daily lives. Which is pretty much all that happens in the first two hundred pages. You do get to grips with the writing as it goes along and it becomes an easier read, but none of the characters ever become desperately appealing.

come the last hundred pages things do get more involving when a protest leads to various complications. But at no time are the protestors all that sympathetic and frankly I found the characters who espoused the system's line to things more sympathetic.

All of the characters have grown and changed somewhat by the end. But not so much that I'd really want to encounter any of them again.

In the end this is about four people learning that life isn't fair. Get used to it kids.

There is also a short afterword from the writer which is quite interesting
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cyberpunk with soul, 18 Dec 2009
This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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Lauren Beukes creates a compelling future world in this paranoid cyberpunk thriller. I won't be upgrading my cellphone for a while, no matter how good the offers! But cellphones are incidental to the story here, just as they are in real life. It's the people that matter.

This is a complex story, but the author keeps a great sense of momentum. This is helped immensely by clearly flagging each chapter with the name of the character whose point-of-view we're about to be in.

And it's the people that matter, how their stories start to collide and entwine, how our own sympathies change as more is revealed. We wonder what it must be like to live in this future world. We probably wouldn't like it. But we'd get by.

This is all done really well and I enjoyed meeting these people. They reveal more about themselves as the plot unfolds. And this is the strength of the book. OK Buerkes creates an intriguing and richly-realised possible future but it's the people in the story who matter - their passions, uncertainties, shifting relationships, duplicities, their own understanding of the world they live in. Cyberpunk with soul.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking dystopia, 11 April 2011
After reading and loving Zoo City, when I made one of my rare visits to a brick-and-mortar bookstore - rare out of self-protection really; I can't resist buying at least one book whenever I go into one - and seeing a copy of Moxyland on the shelves, I snatched it up, since I couldn't wait to sample more of Lauren Beukes' excellent writing.

Moxyland is very much a dystopic novel, but in some ways it's scarily close to reality: the rise of smartphones, the ability to pay with your phone, the way we have come to depend on a working (mobile) internet connection and how much easier it has become for the authorities to track our every move. This is emphasized by Beukes' afterword, written for the Angry Robot editions, in which she details the real-world developments that have caught up to her narrative, since she wrote the book. The South Africa of Moxyland is a totalitarian state, very Orwellian in feel, but updated to tomorrow. It's no longer doublespeak and doublethink, but doublelive. Lerato's layering of misdirections and hiding her true communications behind innocuous ones and Toby's intricately built public persona for his Diary streamcast, to point out two examples, illustrate how rigidly people have to conform to their classes or risk becoming disconnected and disenfranchised. To break out of the mould, you have to do so in complete secrecy or risk the consequences.

Halfway, I was really into the book, but I was wondering what the main plot was, as there didn't really seem to be one. Then I realised that there was one, but that it was really subtle and only truly came into focus at the end of the book. Moxyland isn't so much about the interconnections between our four main storylines, as it is about how these storylines illuminate the different facets of Moxyland's society and how we do not want to end up in a society like it. There are so many thought-provoking elements in the book, my mind was spinning with them when I finished the book. One thing is sure though, as the flap text said, nothing is as it seems and you won't know how much it isn't, until you've read the last page. The resolutions to the various story arcs blew my mind and some of them I hadn't seen coming at all.

The characters were well-drawn; the divide between corporati and civilians clearly shown. While Kendra is mostly sympathetic, the others all have some seriously dislikeable traits, though Beukes succeeds in making both Toby and especially Lerato plausible through their back stories. Tendeka's motivations never become completely clear and his was the character I connected least with. The scariest character in the book wasn't one of the obvious villains, it was Mr Muller, Kendra's photography mentor. Not because he's awful of because he commits some heinous crime, but because he's wilfully blind to the repressive nature of the society portrayed in Moxyland. He is part of the huge middle of the population, who think life is fine as it is and ignores any violations of privacy, human rights or even common human decency. Of course, this is something history has seen time and time again, always leading to disastrous results.

While the book doesn't end leaving glaring questions unanswered, it does leave the door open for a return to these characters. And it would be interesting to see where such a return would go. However, whether Beukes returns to Moxyland, Zoo City or goes some place new, I'll be sure to follow. After reading Zoo City turned me into a fan girl, I enjoyed Moxyland just as much, both because of the story and because it was thought-provoking. I can't wait for her next book and to be wow-ed all over again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising new author unfortunately falls short at the end, 25 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Moxyland (Paperback)
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Moxyland is Neuromancer for the social networking generation. At its heart it is a dystopian techno-thriller that borrows many of the tropes of cyberpunk: a megacorporation/government that practices corporate apartheid; Frankenstein flesh-machine monsters; shifting online personalities; GM art; and a drug-like attitude to branding. What Beukes does well is update the cyberpunk myth to the Facebook generation, so that Kendra is a cyborg by dint of being a walking advertisement for a soft drink, riddled with nanotech like the blurbflies of Jeff Noon's fiction.

Similarly, Lareto is a quasi-terrorist hacker and bored middle-class dilettante who is willing to shatter the system that cradles her just for a bit of perverse fun, and compares well with Toby, the lazy casual criminal, who snorts anything he can get hold of, entertains himself with anarchy and revolution, yet is perfectly happy to live off mum.

My only real problem with this book was the ending, which I'll come to shortly. Beuke's world is wonderfully rendered, although some of the details of her future world just don't ring true (apartments that constantly rotate, megacorps willing to entertain terrorism and mass-infection of the populace so the government will increase Big Brother-style laws). She shifts between perspectives, which I always like, but sometimes her voices use too many similar turns of phrase, which weakens their individual voices.

Despite all this, I wanted to give this book a four or five, until I got to the last third of the book. This is where Beukes really fails for me. Throughout the book there is a strong thread of humour (mostly of the dark variety), but as the narrative begins to tie up, it becomes unrelentingly oppressive without enough light to really allow the reader to enjoy the story. There really is no hope and no future for these characters. Too many of them become pointless corporate casualties, which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Beuke's pessimism overwhelms, in my opinion, and the society she has created is weakened by the ultimate revelation that actually the megacorporations are as evil and faceless and ruthless as they are in every 80s science fiction film. There really is nothing these hard-nosed corporate bastards will do for a quick buck, and for me, this sentiment is just too trite. There really can be no room for nuance in her denouement. It's this bleak summation of humanity that remains with the reader, not the hipster references and electric prose, and this makes Beukes one of the most promising and yet most disappointing writers of the era.
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Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
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