Science Fiction and the Imagined South African and Other Worlds in Lauren Beukes’s Novels

Beukes' South African science fiction worlds

Keywords: South Africa; science fiction; Cape Town; Chicago; Johannesburg; urban commonalities


This article examines the cityscapes, residents’ experiences and different temporalities depicted in Lauren Beukes’s Moxyland, Zoo City and The Shining Girls. The analysis considers the cityscapes and everyday life experiences in the depicted cyber and futurist Cape Town, futurist fantasy Johannesburg and a cyclically time-travelled and crime-ridden Chicago. It also evaluates the role of the science fiction genre in presenting the sense of space in the different cities and in the process establishes possible comparable visions of urban experiences. Hence, the article argues that the link between space and time and genre assists in mapping the city’s and other worlds’ landscapes and the residents’ experiences vividly, and in that way enables the reader to imaginatively establish the social, spatial and other thematic commonalities between Beukes’s cyber and futurist Cape Town, futurist fantasy/magical Johannesburg and a crime-ridden Chicago that is explored through cyclical time-travelling.