Posts Tagged: Lauren Beukes

I seldom felt that this fiction resonated with my experience of South Africa

South African speculative fiction is single-handedly responsible for getting me interested in my own country’s fiction. If you’re from the US or UK you’ve probably never thought of the novels from your country as being largely monolithic or just completely avoided all of them on the assumption that they would be dreary. But that’s exactly how I felt.

Because we were in school after the change in government, many people in my generation seem to have grown up thinking of local fiction as synonymous with the kinds of depressingly tragic political books you were forced to read for class. Books about racism, poverty, apartheid  – that’s how I’ve often heard them described. South African books were grim, weighty things. Important and well-crafted maybe, but they offered no pleasure or entertainment. For the few who liked reading (we don’t have a strong reading culture) all the books you could actually enjoy came from somewhere else. Read More »

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Via Angry Robot, publishers of Zoo City:

Helena Spring, widely regarded as one of South Africa’s most accomplished motion picture producers, has just been awarded the highly sought-after film rights to Zoo City, the Sci-Fi thriller penned by South African author Lauren Beukes – who garnered the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction novel. In the wake of whopping sales figures, multiple awards and critical acclaim Beukes’ book generated fierce interest from numerous bidders in the entertainment industry, putting Spring alongside major US and UK producers eager to tell Beukes’ unique tale.

Zoo City was published first in South Africa by Jacana Media and thereafter internationally by by Angry Robot.

The urban fantasy is set in a futuristic, gritty and hard-core Johannesburg where the eponymous ghetto has been colonised by society’s outcasts – like criminals, drug-dealers and psychopaths, and their animal companions. Like the other residents of the Zoo City slum, Zinzi, the anti-heroine, is “animalled”, but she is also a shrewd, street-smart girl with the gift (or burden) of finding lost things. Zinzi wears her power animal, a sloth, on her back. When she is hired to find a missing teenybopper star, she hopes that it will be her ticket out of Hell’s waiting room.

“I’m delighted to have secured the film and television rights for Zoo City,” commented Helena Spring. “It is a groundbreaking, magical novel begging for a life on the big screen. Lauren’s storytelling is masterful – edgy and futuristic, unique yet universal. It is high in entertainment value yet emotionally charged, a dream project for any producer.”

An easy and obvious choice for this project would be Neill Blomkamp, the acclaimed director of District 9. Not only is Blomkamp South African himself, but his films are well known for their artistic vision and high-end use of CGI to create believable alien creatures, a trait that would be put to excellent use in Zoo City, which features animal familiars similar to those found in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (and I think we can all agree that we hope this adaptation is more successful the stodgy adaptation of Pullman’s work). Promises are always dicey (and often left unfulfilled) whenever the film world is involved, so, as always, Zoo City fans should temper their excitement somewhat, but it’s still great to see Beukes recognized and rewarded for her work.

Zoo City by Lauren BeukesI’ve often joked about how much I need clones. But alas, like time machines and teleportation devices, photocopy-style human cloning just isn’t there yet (unless you believe the dubious claims of the Raelian cult). Luckily I’ve got something even better than an army of Laurenz: a collection of brilliant brains.

It would be neat if they were brains in jars, directly hooked up to word processors to churn out pages while I sleep, but I suspect that probably takes a lot of electricity and probably a mad scientist to maintain them – and mad scientists and their inevitable slobbering loathsome assistants cost a lot to feed.

So, nope. I’m talking the kind of brains that walk around in people casings – the kind that feed themselves because they have jobs and credit cards. And when it came to writing some of the additional materials for Zoo City, I was very happy to be able to raid those brains for their genius.
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