Different strokes for different folks, and different values for different authors, some get by on quantity over quality, while others vice versa. I think it’s fair to say Lauren Beukes is in the latter camp. Progressing and improving noticeably over the course of a decade via a small handful of novels, she proved her work as a journalist translated to writing fiction, and has since produced one of the best horror/fantasy novels of the 21st century, Broken Monsters. But throughout writing novel-length fiction, Beukes likewise sharpened her skills with short fiction, sometimes extremely short fiction. Slipping: Stories, Essays, and Other Writing (2016) collects almost everything Beukes has published in short form, plus a few unpublished extras.
Setting the tone for the collection is its first entry, the poem “Muse”. It lets the reader know that what is about to come will cover the spectrum of velvety smooth to bloodily visceral, realistic to speculative. And the second story, the title story, “Slipping”, quickly makes good on the promise. A story about post-human Olympics that retains its human heart, it tells of a poor African who has been biologically altered to participate in the +Games. The story’s elements can be gaudy, but Beukes keeps the motivation real, all the way to its unexpected conclusion.