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George Alec Effinger (1947–2002)

Autor(a) de When Gravity Fails

103+ Works 5,357 Membros 84 Críticas 11 Favorited

About the Author


Obras por George Alec Effinger

When Gravity Fails (1987) 1,468 exemplares
A Fire in the Sun (1989) 797 exemplares
The Exile Kiss (1991) 605 exemplares
Budayeen Nights (2003) 202 exemplares
Red Tape War (1991) — Autor — 177 exemplares
The Zork Chronicles (1990) 176 exemplares
What Entropy Means to Me (1972) 173 exemplares
Trinity (1997) 158 exemplares
Nightmare Blue (1975) — Autor — 104 exemplares
Chains of the Sea (1973) — Autor — 102 exemplares
The Wolves Of Memory (1981) 101 exemplares
Those Gentle Voices (1976) 90 exemplares
The Nick of Time (1985) — Autor — 83 exemplares
Live! From Planet Earth (2005) — Autor — 77 exemplares
The Audran Sequence (2008) 72 exemplares
The Bird of Time (1986) — Autor — 62 exemplares
Death in Florence (1978) 55 exemplares
Relatives (1973) 48 exemplares
A Thousand Deaths (2007) 46 exemplares
Idle Pleasures (1983) 38 exemplares
Dirty Tricks (1978) 30 exemplares
Proteus: Voices for the 80's (1981) 29 exemplares
Irrational Numbers (1976) 28 exemplares
Heroics (1979) 19 exemplares
The Old Funny Stuff (1989) 19 exemplares
Felicia (1976) 17 exemplares
Mixed Feelings (1974) 16 exemplares
Look Away (1990) 12 exemplares
Haunt of Horror, Volume 1, No.1 (1973) — Editor — 9 exemplares
Shadow Money (1988) 8 exemplares
Heartstop 4 exemplares
Unferno 2 exemplares
Slow Slow Burn 2 exemplares
The Plastic Pasha 2 exemplares
Marid Throws A Party 2 exemplares
One 2 exemplares
Hermanos 2 exemplares
Everything but Honor 2 exemplares
Double Dribble 2 exemplares
The Worm Oroboros 1 exemplar
The Mezentian Gate 1 exemplar
Marid Changes Her Mind (2001) 1 exemplar
Exile Kiss, The 1 exemplar
Sand and Stones 1 exemplar
Timmy Was Eight 1 exemplar
The Pinch-Hitters 1 exemplar
B.K.A. The Master 1 exemplar
Two Sadnesses 1 exemplar
Aeon 1 exemplar
Walking Gods (2004) 1 exemplar
The Ghost Writer 1 exemplar
How It Felt 1 exemplar
Ibid 1 exemplar

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Conhecimento Comum




There are really only two audiences for this book: those who can’t get enough of Effinger’s future Arabic setting of the Budayeen and those interested in Effinger himself.

Both audiences are well served by the “Foreword” by Barbara Hambly as well as her introductory notes for all the included pieces. She writes with affection, knowledge, and occasional annoyance about Effinger and the stories here. (She never mentions that she was married to Effinger from 1998 to 2000.)

Effinger, she says, had a

"very dark side to his nature, a fascination with the underworld and the demimonde that came about, I think, because many of his mother’s friends were hookers and strippers back in Cleveland "

Those strippers and hookers included a transexual one who was murdered by a customer and the murder not investigated by the New Orleans police. Effinger’s “outrage and helplessness” about that led to When Gravity Fails. The world of the Budayeen is very much like the French Quarter he inhabited in New Orleans with a bit of Greenwich Village in New York City, another place Effinger lived, thrown in.

Effinger took quite a bit of trouble to depict Islamic culture correctly. The local Islamic Cooperative Association pronounced it respectful to that culture and faith but added they were liberal Sunnis. Who knew what a Shiite would think?

When Gravity Fails was intended to be a single book. However, when it became popular, Bantam Books wanted more. Effinger said the Budayeen was the first world he created that had true “depth and richness”.

A minor character in the Budayeen novels, poet Sandor Courane, is an alter ego of Effinger as Marîd Audran was.

It amused George that many readers take Marîd at Marîd’s own evaluation of himself: cool, clever, street-smart, sharp. But in fact, George said, if you look at what Marîd actually does rather than what he says, he is in fact cowardly, not nearly as clever as he thinks he is, and has a major drug problem which he never quite gets around to addressing.

Like George — dearly as I loved him.

Drugs, depression, and chronic pain from chronic ulcerative colitis took their toll on Effinger in his last twelve years of life, and his output became sparse.

“Schrödinger’s Kitten” is a 1988 story that won both Hugo and Nebula awards which just goes to show awards aren’t a very good measure of enduring appeal. This is a multiple worlds story, but it isn’t particularly memorable compared to others like Frederik Pohl’s The Coming of the Quantum Cats. It’s is a Budayeen story because the protagonist, Jehan Fatima Ashufi, a twelve year old girl, lives there when the story opens. She is plagued by precognitive visions. The story opens with her stabbing a boy whom she will knows will rape her in the future. As she slips back and forth in timelines, past and present, we see her both executed and rescued by visiting physicist David Hilbert who buys her freedom from execution.

She seems to become his mistress and later, revealed to have a talent for physics, assistant to Werner Heisenberg, and her casual religious remarks to him lead to his formulation of the Uncertainty Principle. Later, she becomes an assistant to Schrödinger. Yes, this story deals with Nazi Germany’s atomic bomb program. It’s well told as it moves back and forth in time and between the alternate versions of her life. It’s just not, with its basic concept – another alternate WWII story – that novel or memorable.

“Marîd Changes His Mind” would seem to be here only for completeness sake. It was originally published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, but it was also the first two chapters of A Fire in the Sun. Hambly’s introductory notes says that Effinger liked to recycle characters. The nightclub owner M. Gargotier and his daughter Maddie show up in other stories including “The City in the Sand” and a heist novel, Felicia.

“Slow, Slow Burn” is, as Hambly says, one of the best stories in the book. It centers on Honey Pilar, recorder of pornographic moddies frequently mentioned in the Budayeen novels. Those chipping her moddies into their wired brains can either experience sex like or with the world’s most desired woman. Originally published in Playboy, it has the slick feel of some of that magazine’s fiction.

The story has several scenes: advertisements for Honey’s latest moddy (which is marketed to ninth graders among others), tv reports about Honey, the recording of Honey’s latest moddy, and, mostly, Honey’s relationship with Ray, her fourth husband and manager. Honey speaks in weirdly ungrammatical sentences, and Ray, understandably for a man living in the shadow of Honey, likes to assert his independence in various ways. But how long is Honey is going to put up with that?

Oddly, Ray seems to have lustful thoughts for a local woman who is running a “numbers station”. Nothing is really done with that, so maybe Effinger just liked the added weirdness. There is something of a tonal and conceptual discontinuity with the Budayeen novels given that you would never know this is a balkanized world.

The idea for “Marîd and the Trial of Blood” came from Hambly herself who commissioned it for her anthology, Sisters of the Night. It contained stories where vampires were rationalized in various ways. Here Audran encounters the stripper Sheba whose addictive personality has caused her to compulsively chip a Dracula moddy where she is Dracula. This results in her killing some people. Audran amusingly resorts to a Van Helsing moddy to know how to deal with her. The story ends on a somewhat disturbing moral note, but it’s entirely consistent with earlier events in the story and the Budayeen novels themselves.

“King of the Cyber Rifles” doesn’t take place in the Budayeen nor does it have any of the characters from the Budayeen novels, but it is set in the same world. It’s hero, Jân Muhammed, mans an outpost on a mountain pass, his moddies enable him to chip into various sensors and weapons. But the system is sabotaged, and he must decide how to respond not only in defending the pass but in punishing the saboteur. Hambly sees something of Effinger in Muhammed, a man both gregarious and “half-afraid” of people, who takes pride in his “miniscule, mindless, and insignificant” task.

“Marîd Throws a Party” is nothing less than the first two chapters of what was to the fourth Budayeen novel, Word of Night. Effinger wrote them in 1990, and, when he died in 2002, they were still all he had written on that novel. Hambly and Effinger did work out an outline for the novel.

The book opens with Audran observing that the most frightening words in the world are “Do you know what you did last night?” Audran’s day starts out with news of another “gift” from Friedlander Bey. Audran is to have another operation on his brain – the experimental surgery we heard about in A Fire in the Sun – the next morning before he and Bey go on the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Audran spends his day plotting revenge on the hapless Faud who conned him out of some money in The Exile Kiss. At his club that night, a man mysteriously ends up dead, and Audran’s sexual kinks are expanded. Kumzu, Audran’s slave, is not at all happy the next morning about developments

I’d read “The World As We Know It” before, but I wasn’t aware that its unnamed narrator is Audran. This story takes place after what was to be the end of the five novel series. Audran is an outcast from the city and hiding from his old enemy Shaykh Reda (presumably Friedlander Bey is dead).

The story involves “consensual realities”, partly holographic illusions, part virtual reality, and part stage illusions. Audran, for instance, has an office rather like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. He’s called to investigate some vandalism at a place running a consensual reality simulation of a Mars colony. As a crime story, it’s not entirely satisfying. Hambly sees it as a bit of a metaphor for New Wave master Effinger holding his own against the up-and-coming cyberpunks. Here one character tells Audran he’s “A small legend, an ignoble kind of legend, but if you were younger, our age . . . “

“The City on the Sand” is another fine story, and, indeed, the “ultimate tale of the Budayeen Nights”. It was published in 1973, yet it has almost all the details of the later Budayeen novels, many inspired by New Orleans. It features another reoccurring Effinger character, the “lost, shabby, and hopeless expatriate Ernst Weinraub (or Weintraub).” Sandor Courane also shows up as does M. Gargotier.

Like many in New Orleans, Weinraub is a would-be writer who wants to be noticed as he scribbles things on napkins. Mostly he just pretends to write and contemplate, as Effinger did of New Orleans, the city he finds himself in. Weinraub’s pretensions are rather amusing.

Nothing much happens in a story which has Weinraub sitting outside a café for almost 24 hours, getting increasingly drunk. We eventually come to wonder how many of his thoughts about his past are really just drunken fantasies of self-pity and grandeur. He is constantly mocked obscenely by an Arab boy (evidently another sort of recurring Effinger character). Here Weinraub is jealous of the attention the poet Courane gets. There is a plot (who knows how much is delusion and how much mockery of Weinraub?) where Courane and a local militia leader (another feature of the Budayeen novels which shows up in The Exile Kiss) ask him to write propaganda for them.

“The Plastic Pasha” is the very last thing Effinger was working on before he died in 2002. Hambly’s introductory note says it involves Audran’s younger brother who was sold into slavery by their mother. The story involves a religious conference and the political intrigue around it with the issue being the status of the personality moddies in Islam. The brother is now ruler of Algeria. The story was to be about (and this is not at all clear from the fragment we have) a moddy that enables its user to be the “perfect Islamic governor” and who gets to wear it. Oddly, Hambly notes, the personality is a simulation of Thomas Jefferson (a hero of Effinger’s), so there is a question, if the moddy’s use is allowed, who would really be in charge.
… (mais)
RandyStafford | 2 outras críticas | May 19, 2024 |
There is something of a perfunctory and place-holding feel about this book, especially in its second half. It’s also the shortest of the Marîd Audran novels.

Not that Audran doesn’t go through plenty of changes.

Friedlander Bey, as always, gets his way when he forces Audran to marry Indihar, a former stripper at Audran’s club. She’s the widow of a policeman killed in the line of duty, partly because Audran, in his brief days as a policeman, showed up hungover that day. She’s made it clear she’s not sleeping with Audran.

The wedding is celebrated at the house of the local amir. There Bey’s rival, crime lord/civil leader/international political fixer Shayk Reda Abu Adil, no doubt for his own obscure, duplicitous ends, gives Audran a commission in the local, rather Nazi-like militia.

And, on the way out, Adil’s man, the always corrupt Lieutenant Hajjar, hustles the two men into a car. They’ve been framed for the murder of another policeman, and the local iman has signed an order exiling them from the city.

They are thrown into the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and barely escape death before meeting a desert tribe, the Bani Salim. Audran is changed by his time with them. He becomes harder, more ruthless, and more decisive.

Eventually, he and Bey return to the city (we never get its name). They get a meeting with the iman to appeal their case, and Audran starts to investigate the murder of that policeman to clear their name. Using a variation of a tactic the Bani Salim’s leader implemented to investigate the murder of a beautiful girl in their tribe, Audran sets out to find out who killed the cop.

Things get more complicated when the iman ends up killed too.

Audran has a discussion with one of Bey’s long-time assistants about the morality of commissioning cold-blooded murders. He’s assured that, while that may violate the Koran’s text, it doesn’t violate the intent because Bey does it to prevent chaos and protect his dependents and clients. And Audran comes to accept that moral logic when he dispatches a member of the Bani Salim, who returned with him to the city, to wreck some vengeance on those who exiled the two men.

There are clashes with Adil and his latest lieutenant and boytoy, Kenneth, and that local militia will play a part. The identity of the cop killer is hardly surprising nor is the resolution to Audran’s legal problems.

Audran’s continued episodes of public intoxication – despite his promises to stop – draw the ire of his “uncle” (actually, his great grandfather) Bey. Despite saving Bey’s life in the desert, the devout crime lord tells Audran that, if doesn’t stop, he’ll be taking another trip out into the desert. And he won’t be coming back from that one.

In the pre-Internet days, it’s interesting to see something like it mentioned in this story. The city has a public communication system accessed by public kiosks. The city just happens to eliminate the subsidies for the free service, and Bey just happens to have a supplier of replacement equipment which he will be happy to sell various business owners. (And, sometimes, mysterious problems on their communication equipment may happen if they delay its purchase.) This will give Bey access to a lot of private information. It will also enable him, in his self-appointed role as Defender of the Faith, to censor information. However, nothing is really done with this development in the novel.

Nor is the conflict between Adil and Bey settled. We find out that Bey won’t sanction killing Adil because of some mysterious promise he made to a woman. As hinted at it Budayeen Nights, that conflict was to have a surprising conclusion if the series had been completed.

It’s still an enjoyable novel, and you’ll want to read it if you’ve read the other Audran novels, but it’s the least satisfying of the three.
… (mais)
RandyStafford | 9 outras críticas | May 16, 2024 |
An odd little book, nominally SF but written like hardboiled detective fiction from the 1930s. May have got 3 stars but for the bait and switch.
SteveMcSteve | Jan 8, 2024 |
When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger was published just three years after William Gibson’s Neuromancer. Like Gibson’s Case, Effinger’s Audran Marîd requires a wired brain to get the most out of virtual reality. Case uses a plug in his head to exercise his mad hacking skills in an abstract virtual space. Audran has his mental processing power and stamina amped up by implants. Audran can become a simulacrum of a fictional detective like Nero Wolfe. The villain, meanwhile, is dressing like James Bond and ordering his martinis shaken, not stirred. Unlike Case, Audran has the machine forced on him by the local godfather, who needs him to solve an underworld crime. The story takes place in a large middle eastern city that resembles Cairo and has a cast of characters that would be at home in a future remake of Casablanca. Effinger tells a good story.… (mais)
Tom-e | 33 outras críticas | Aug 20, 2023 |



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Mike Resnick Introduction, Author
Neil Gaiman Introduction
Gardner Dozois Introduction
Jack Dann Introduction
Barbara Hambly Introduction, Foreword
Richard Gilliam Introduction
Pamela Sargent Introduction
John Picacio Cover artist
Jr. Neal Barrett Introduction
Howard Waldrop Introduction
Lawrence Person Introduction
Bradley Denton Introduction
Michael Bishop Introduction
George Barr Cover artist
Paul Youll Cover artist
James Gunn Introduction
vainiojoona Cover designer
Mark Maxwell Illustrator
Jim Burns Cover artist
Michael Hinge Cover artist
Dorothy Wachtenheim Cover designer
Ian Craig Cover artist
Craig Mullins Cover artist
Steve Youll Cover artist
Stephen Youll Cover artist
Walter Brumm Translator
Nikolai Lutohin Cover artist
Peggy Ranson Illustrator
Justin Todd Cover artist
Gervasio Gallardo Cover artist
Lynne Condellone Cover designer
Andrew Fox Afterword
Gray Morrow Cover artist


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