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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
George Alec Effinger's 1987 cyberpunk classic When Gravity Fails -- nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards -- is finally back in print after being unavailable for more than a decade.
Living in the 22nd century in a sordid Arab ghetto known as the Budayeen, street hustler Marid Audran finds himself manipulated into tracking down a sadistic assassin, even though he is the killer's next target. In the dark streets and alleyways of the Budayeen -- infested with drug dealers and gender-bending prostitutes of all persuasions -- there are two types of people: hustlers and marks. Audran is an "independent operator" who has managed to steer clear of any entanglements with the city's major players. But when a mysterious murderer starts butchering associates of Friedlander "Papa" Bey, a virtually omnipotent crime lord, Audran gets strong-armed into helping him find the killer. As part of the deal, Audran must undergo highly experimental "intercranial work" that will help him track down the madman, who has a penchant for using bootlegged personality modules that can temporarily turn him into any number of infamous mass murderers.
The first book in a trilogy of novels that concludes with A Fire in the Sun and The Exile Kiss, When Gravity Fails is a landmark cyberpunk work comparable to William Gibson's Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and Greg Bear's Blood Music. This angst-ridden, drug- and sex-fueled jaunt into the decadent, hard-wired future should be read -- and cherished -- by cyberpunk junkies and genre aficionados alike. Paul Goat Allen