Tag Archive | South Africa

The Memory Hacker by JT Lawrence

Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This is the second novella in the futuristic visionary collection “2054” from a diverse quartet of authors.

It’s the year 2054 and Talia lives a quiet, mundane life. Required to go for a standard medical checkup, she does so. Everything is fine until the AI examining her indicates that she has had children. The problem is, she has no recollection of ever having had a baby. Vacillating between believing the AI is malfunctioning and wanting to uncover the truth, Talia must follow the trail of breadcrumbs. But where will it lead her?

No, I don’t give spoilers, but I will say that I loved this vision of a future South Africa. Already a dab-hand at creating a grungy dystopic hi-tec future vision for the region, Lawrence adds a new twist to her repertoire with this story. And it’s good. There were surprises around many corners in this story, and a whole load of heart. A lot of fun was had here.

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The Sigma Surrogate by JT Lawrence

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle Edition
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I just spent two hours of my day reading this, and I can tell you, every moment was well worth it.

What starts out as a simple investigation for resourceful journalist Keke takes twists and turns she doesn’t foresee until she’s in way over her head. In a world where infertility is rife, those who are fertile are well-protected (or are they?) – and used as surrogates. Of course, surrogacy has its opponents, cue the Sigma surrogate. Also seen in this book is Kirsten, heroine of Why You Were Taken.

Full of action, suspense and with a few more twists than I could keep track of, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Lawrence paints a vivid picture with her words, drawing the reader easily into Keke and Kirsten’s world.

The S.K.A. at Carnarvon – A TROJAN AFFAIR by Michael Smorenburg

Source: Own Collection
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

It has taken me a very long time to knuckle down and write this review – much to my chagrin. The fact that it has bothered me for so long (not least because I haven’t sat down to review it) is testament to the accuracy of the viewpoints Smorenberg investigates in this book. This was probably one of the most difficult books I read in 2016/17.

The book tackles many topics – racism, bullying, abuse, science, religion, fear, terrorism, prejudice… Yeah. It’s a very complex book. And what drives it home even more painfully – even as a reader who is an English-heritage, white, Christian, South African – is just how realistic it is. In oh-so-many ways.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a Christian in the previous paragraph, so let me tackle that. For me, science and my belief/trust/faith/knowledge of/in God are not incompatible. Historically, it was Christians – protestant Christians, note, NOT Roman Catholic – who were the forerunners of today’s scientists. Isaac Newton being one I can think of off the top of my head – and I know he doesn’t stand alone. These men were free – a freedom granted by their belief in God – to question the world they lived in and seek to understand it. That is the essence of science. So. To bring this back to me, personally… For me, science has always reinforced my knowledge of the God as revealed to us in the Bible. No, I don’t always agree with the interpretation many scientists (the non-Christian ones) put on the evidence at their disposal, but by the same token, I don’t always agree with the interpretations scientists who are Christians put on the same evidence. And likewise, the fact that I believe in God does not make me fear science or, for that matter, interpretations scientists place against the evidence they find.

Simply put, I do not, as a Christian, hold to the anti-science prejudices characterised in this book. That said, I will in no way dispute that there are far too many Christians of whom the anti-science Christian characters in this book are wholly representative of. In that, Smorenburg’s portrayal is entirely accurate and extremely well conveyed.

This book is really a melting-pot of a complex state of affairs that drives the narrow-minded, racist, bullying leadership in a rural town to confront the modern world, with disastrous consequences. I appreciated that Smorenburg treated all aspects of the topics he tackled very well, enabling each side their moment in the spotlight, with a very clear illustration of what behaviour is acceptable, what drives people to do all sorts of things, and yet he enabled each party to maintain dignity as far as was possible. Not an easy task, for sure.

This book is not an easy read, as it includes some graphic descriptions of violence. That said, I would go so far as to say that it’s an important book.

 

The War Between by Jennifer Withers

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this book some time ago now, so it’s long past time I wrote a review.

Set in South Africa between present-day Johannesburg and Pretoria, this book is a dystopian vision of the future. In essence, pure humans live in Pretoria, while superhumans live in Johannesburg. There is mention of other settlements, and one appears in the story, but the focus is on the two.

This was an entertaining read, and very well executed considering the complexity of the story. I would have liked to see some more character development, but apart from that, Withers covered all her bases and delivered a solid tale.

Zululand Snow by Ian Tennent

zs - outside covers.inddSource: Mischief Managed
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

While Zululand reels under the blows of a lunatic’s hammer, half-hearted schoolboy Craig’s imagination ignites when he links an Anglo-Zulu War letter his grandfather bequeathed him, to his History teacher’s mesmerising tale of the lost inKatha, ‘The Soul of the Zulu Nation’.
However, in his feverish quest to find the relic he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events which disturbs the dark equilibrium of forces in his hometown; forces both past and present, and steeped in malice.
As chance encounters with his History teacher become alarmingly more frequent, events explode when the boys clash with caddies from the local golf-course, the malevolent greenkeeper makes a sinister threat and the finger of suspicion drifts towards a friend’s father when the lunatic’s hammer falls once again.

Set in a small town in Zululand during the turbulent summer of 1983, Zululand Snow is the tale of a boy searching for a way to bring a glorious past back to life. It’s a tale of history and imagination, of folklore and legend, and the gravitational pull they exert on the marrow in a boy’s bones.

What a great book! I’ve just closed it a few minutes ago, so the closing passages are still running around in my head.

The experience begins right from the first sentence, which I give you here:


Up ahead, bullet-grey clouds muscled in from the east, flexing their knuckles like giant fists spoiling for a fight.


Just that there is one of the many gems sprinkled through this book that give one pause for thought. I loved some of Tennent’s similes and metaphors.

Boyhood adventure gets mixed with Zulu superstition and beliefs in this fantastic tale of the search for the Inkatha Yesizwe, “The Soul of the Zulu Nation”. I loved the way that half way through the book one’s scratching one’s head as to how various elements could possibly add up, and at the end of the story it’s all neatly tied up with bows on top and one can rest easy. But oh, the shenanigans those boys got up to! Makes me remember life as a child in the Eastern Cape, which at times could be very similar – heading off into the veld without a care in the world. Just as a child’s life should be!

Very well written, and vivid, Tennent doesn’t spare one the harshness of circumstances back in the time when this was set (I’m aiming for 1980s/90s, I imagine), but nevertheless he imbues the story with adventure, danger, excitement and the thrill of the chase. A fabulous read that I’ll be recommending around, for sure!