Thursday, June 18, 2015


Moxyland by Lauren Beukes is a cyberpunk novel set in a dystopian, not-too-distant future Cape Town, South Africa.  Big corporations run everything, and society is essentially controlled through technology:  for example, law enforcement can easily use a citizen's cell phone to tase them, and being disconnected is one of the worst things that can happen to a person.  Corporate-run orphanages are used to train and recruit employees, and the penalty for attempting to defect to a rival company can be high.

Beukes's book follows the intertwined stories of four young people:  Kendra, an art school drop-out who's been accepted to participate in a potentially sketchy marketing program; Toby, a drug-addicted vlogger who engages in all kinds of illicit activity in Cape Town's underground scene; Tendeka, an activist trying to foster revolution against the corporate tech-driven society; and Lerato, product of a corporate orphanage and now a high-ranking employee for Communique.

When I read Neuromancer, I thought that cyberpunk was just way too technical for me.  I didn't major in computer science, I'm not a programmer, and you're going to completely lose me with all that sort of jargon.  But then I read Snow Crash, and I felt like I "got it." Moxyland is written more along that sort of vein:  there's an element of grit and seediness amidst all the shiny future tech, and that is the sort of cyberpunk that I can get on board with.