This is a pretty good series, a cyberpunk mash-up of Raymond Chandler and 1001 Arabian Nights. (Actually, cyberpunk owes a lot of its feel and inner cynicism to the hardboiled private eyes of the pulps and the old film noir flicks. Just check out the openingparagraphs of William Gibson's modern sci-fi classic Neuromancer for some of the best Chandleresque prose in years.)
Anyway, it's the late 22nd century, and pill-popping street hustler and sometime"private strongarm" MARÎD AUDRAN lives in an unnamed Arab city in the Budayeen, "a polycultural...underworld so grim, stark and sleazy that, according to Spider Robinson, "it makes Blade Runner's Los Angeles look like Sunnybrook Farm."
It's a world where folks can plug a new personality module directly into their brain when life gets boring. In the first book, 1987's When Gravity Fails, a psychopath who can't decide if he's James Bond or Jack the Ripper starts terrorizing the Budayeen and Friedlander Bey, local crimelord, decides to hire Marîd to make the streets safe for crime again. Soon enough, our hero's fierce independance, not to mention his life, are at stake. Especially when he decides to get his own brain wired, in an effort to catch the killer.
In the sequel, A Fire in the Sun, Marîd again finds himself forced to work for Bey, and by 1990's The Exile Kiss, he's risen through the ranks to become one of Bey's most trusted "enforcers."
Literate, and provocative, and Effinger gets bonus points for using both Chandler and Bob Dylan quotes in the epigraphs. Unfortunately, Effinger passed away in 2002. His widow, fellow sci-fi writer barbara Hambly, edited and wrote a foreword for Budayeen Nights, a 2003 collection of various short stories and other bits and pieces, all featuring or somehow connected to Audran and Budayen.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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