Short Story

Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs is a short story by South African speculative fiction author, Lauren Beukes. It is currently up at SFX as part of SFX Summer of SF Reading. Really,  there are not enough words for how much LOVE I have for the story.  Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs is the kind of mad story I've been aching to read (and possibly write) all through this week. It has Unathi, a woman from Johannesburg living in Tokyo as a member of an elite mecha squadron hunting down a very hairy tentacle monster. This story has no romance, unless you consider the crush and other possibilities, and apparently it is a satire poking fun at hipsters, Western otaku culture (and possibly Japanophilia).
Unathi was singing karaoke when the creature attacked Tokyo. Or rather, she was about to sing karaoke. Was, in fact, about to be the very first person in Shibuya’s Big Echo to break in the newly uploaded Britney come-back hip-hop remix of the Spice Girls’ classic ‘Tell Me What You Want (What You Really Really Want)’.

It was, admittedly, early in the day to be breaking out the microphone, but Unathi was on shore leave, and the truth was that she and the rest of Saiko Squadron weren’t up early so much as they were still going from last night, lubricated on a slick of sake that ran from here to Tokohama.

Unathi stepped up onto the table in their private booth, briefly giving her madoda a flash of white briefs under her pleated miniskirt. When she was on duty as Flight Sergeant of the squadron, she kept strictly to her maroon and grey flightsuit or the casual comfort of her military-issue tracksuit.
In her private life, however, Unathi tended to be outrageous. Back in Johannesburg, before she’d been recruited to the most elite mecha squadron on the planet, she hung out at 44 Stanley and Newtown, where she’d been amakipkip to the max. Named for the cheap multicoloured popcorn, the neo-pantsula gangster-punk aesthetic had her pairing purple skin-tight jeans with eye-bleeding oranges and greens, and a pair of leopard-print heels, together with her Mohawk, added five inches to her petite frame.

In her newly adopted home, she tended towards Punk Lolita. And not some Gwen Stefani Harajuku-wannabe Lolipunk either. In civvies, she wore a schoolgirl skirt cut from an antique kimono that had survived the bombing of Hiroshima according to the garment dealer’s providence and she’d grown her hair out into little twists that were more combat-friendly than her Mohawk. But the highlight of her look was a pair of knee-high white patent combat boots made from the penis leather of a whale she had slaughtered herself.

Now, standing on the karaoke booth table, the light of the disco ball glittered behind her head like a halo. As she raised the mic to her perfect, pierced lips time shifted into glorious slow-mo. Read more
So with a South African woman kicking ass in Tokyo and searching for the secret behind a giant hairy monster accompanied by a middle-aged writer called Haruki and his talking cat, this does qualify as Blasian fiction, right?


  1. this does qualify as Blasian fiction, right?

    Perhaps. "Crazy" is a sub-genre, right?

  2. "Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs " - I'm not going to lie, I had flashbacks to last week with detangling my hair when I read that. XD

    This story sounds right up my alley, though. Make that another addition to the wishlist.

  3. @Ankh

    Ahaha, that's a possibility. I'm just happy seeing Black and Asian characters in a piece of fiction that is not romance or erotica.


    Oddly, the title totally flew over my head. I like the way hair was used in the story. It's a short story so you can read it online for free by following the link.

  4. That sounds boss as all hell!

    Hairballs--what I see in the sink regularly since I went natural.

  5. Hairballs--what I see in the sink regularly since I went natural.

    Amen to that!!!

  6. The writing style reminds me of my posse, and our sick sense of humour. I wouldn't mind seeing this as a 2D animated short.


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