From Publishers Weekly
One of the founders of cyberpunk, Effinger (1947-2002) led a pain-filled life, but one would never know of his suffering from the tales in this brilliant collection, full as they are of antic humor and atmospheric inventiveness. All nine selections-seven stories, the first portion of an uncompleted novel and a story fragment-are set in his marvelously realized, imaginary Muslim city of Budayeen (inspired by New Orleans's seedy French Quarter), also the setting for three novels (When Gravity Fails, etc.). Mared Audran, the chief protagonist in these stories, like everyone else in the 22nd century, wears brain-implant plugs, enabling him to snap in and experience "moddies," for pleasure or otherwise. The former is supplied by Honey Pilar, sex goddess of "Slow, Slow Burn," whose super-provocative moddies are shared, with or without partners, by millions. In "Mared Throws a Party," the projected opening of Word of Night, a fourth Budayeen novel, Mared is disconcerted when his adoptive grandfather, the powerful Friedlander Bey, announces he's giving him the unwelcome gift of a new set of implants. In "King of the Cyber Rifles," these implants are used for war purposes. Technology tends to play a smaller role in Effinger's finest shorter works, such as Nebula and Hugo winner "Schrodinger's Kitten," a story of multiple worlds, and "The City on the Sand," set in the Budayeen but flavored with European weltschmerz. Days before his death, Effinger began the final story, "The Plastic Pasha," barely an excerpt, but pungent and alive.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
These marvelous stories, insightfully introduced by Effinger's third wife, novelist Barbara Hambly, blend cyberpunk, quantum mechanics, and Islam. Their setting is the Budayeen, a walled-off collection of pungent clubs, coffeehouses, personality shops, family homes, and marginally responsive police stations in an unnamed, near-future Islamic city--the backdrop, too, of Effinger's novels When Gravity Fails
(1987), A Fire in the Sun
(1989), and The Exile Kiss
(1991). Strongly resembling New Orleans' French Quarter, the Budayeen is ideal for Effinger's anti-hero, Marid, an unreliable, probably drug-addicted policeman who owes his position to the district's wealthy, powerful patron, the appropriately named Papa. The stories conjure a culture of "invisibles," ranging from the girl in "Schrodinger's Kitten," who foresees a flood of potential futures based on an attack in a dusty alley, to the stripper in "Marid and the Trail of Blood," who is convinced a vampire is loose on the streets. By turns comic and stern, sexy and serene, Effinger's world will appeal to both fans of cyberpunk and fans of Maureen McHugh's cultural sf. Roberta JohnsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved