Ex-fighter pilot Cowboy, "hardwired" via skull sockets directly to his lethal electronic hardware, teams up with Sarah, an equally cyborized gun-for-hire....
Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood....
In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N....
Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down....
C.S. Friedman, acclaimed author of The Coldfire Trilogy, returns to the epic style which has made her one of the most popular fantasy writers in the genre....
Jonny is a black-market dealer in drugs that heal the body and cool the mind. All he cares about is his own survival. Until a strange new plague turns L.A. into a city of death....
Not far in the future, the seas have risen, and the central latitudes are emptying....
From best-selling author Neal Stephenson and critically acclaimed historical and contemporary commercial novelist Nicole Galland comes a captivating and complex near-future thriller....
Jazz Bashara is a criminal. Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire....
AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems....
Long ago, the wizards had vanished from the world, and all knowledge was left hidden in riddles....
In the hellish sprawl of Imperial Terra, Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor Erasmus Crowl serves as a stalwart protector, for even the Throneworld is not immune to the predations of its enemies....
Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math - and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind....
One thousand years after Earth was destroyed in an unprovoked attack, humanity has emerged victorious from a series of terrible wars to assure its place in the galaxy....
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure....
Marsalis is one of a new breed...literally. He's one of the Thirteens, genetically engineered by the U.S. government for naked aggression and primal survival skills....
On the heavily forested planet of Lumin, the Network has slept, dormant, for over 600 cycles. Only a select few remember that it resides beneath the crust of the planet....
Joel is pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems - until he's accidentally duplicated while teleporting....
In a decadent world of cheap pleasures and easy death, Marid Audrian has kept his independence the hard way. Still, like everything else in the Budayeen, he's available for a price.
For a new kind of killer roams the streets of the Arab ghetto, a madman whose bootlegged personality cartridges range from a sinister James Bond to a sadistic disemboweler named Khan. And Marid Audrian has been made an offer he can't refuse.The 200-year-old godfather of the Budayeen's underworld has enlisted Marid as his instrument of vengeance. But first Marid must undergo the most sophisticated of surgical implants before he dares to confront a killer who carries the power of every psychopath since the beginning of time.
Wry, savage, and unignorable, When Gravity Fails was hailed as a classic by Effinger's fellow SF writers on its original publication in 1987, and the sequence of Marid Audrian novels it begins were the culmination of his career.
This is another noir cyberpunk story with a reluctant hero who works for people he swore he'd never work for, doing things he swore he'd never do. If you've read "Neuromancer" or "Altered Carbon", you've read "When Gravity Fails". Just replace future-Tokyo or future-San Francisco with future-Damascus. (Actually, the city is never actually named: it could just as easily be Beirut or Amman or Jerusalem or Cairo.) While this was a good story, I'm thinking it was nominated for a Hugo and Nebula in 1988 because "Whoa, dude! Cyberpunk! In the Middle East! Like, everyone's Muslim!"
Aside from that novelty factor, When Gravity Fails serves up what you expect in a cyberpunk novel: digital personalities, downloaded brain modifications, surgically altered bodies, fractured nation-states, and lots of crime and grit and whores.
Marid Audrian is a Moroccan son of a prostitute who's your fairly standard noir protagonist: he hangs out in the Budayeen, an Arab ghetto in an unnamed Middle Eastern city, and his friends, lovers, and business associates are all grifters, bartenders, prostitutes, various-shades-of-dirty cops, street hustlers, just trying to get by, preying on rich tourists and their fellow citizens alike.
Marid gets dragged into a convoluted plot involving a serial killer who initially uses a James Bond persona, which was a mildly clever touch. Since he begins the story stating his abhorrence of having his brain modified, we know he's going to wind up chipped and jacked to the max.
The action scenes are fast-paced and well-written and the technology blends smoothly with the Middle Eastern setting. The "mystery" is a bit of a let-down, as I was expecting something more clever and twisted, but it ultimately made sense, and why should the real killer be some shocking Big Reveal instead of just another grimy scumbag?
Effinger's handling of Middle Eastern culture from a first-person POV did not, I think, exoticize it too much. Marid, while not devout himself, sees Arab culture and Islam as the default, so if he's sometimes critical or even mocking of it, it's no more so than an agnostic American who's not above taking shots at American culture and Christianity.
There are a lot of sex-changed characters in the book, including Marid's girlfriend. I wouldn't say it's particularly sensitive to trans people (there are the usual jokes about "You didn't know she used to be a man?"), but they seem to be accepted like everyone else. When Gravity Fails was probably pretty progressive for 1988. The "Whores! Whores! Whores!" sensibility is pretty de rigueur for cyberpunk. (That said, if you want cyberpunk that's not full of whores and nipply breasts, try Neal Stephenson or Hannu Rajaniemi.)
Like Neuromancer, When Gravity Fails is a book that might have been edgy and mind-blowing in the 80s, but now has nothing you haven't seen rolled out in mass production by Hollywood and dozens of SF imitators. This story about a street operator tracking down a serial killer in an unnamed futuristic Middle Eastern city is an entertaining enough read, but unless either cyberpunk or the Middle Eastern setting holds special appeal for you, it isn't something I'd recommend you go out of your way for.
24 of 25 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of When Gravity Fails to be better than the print version?
Both are top notch. I couldn't say one was better than the other.
What did you like best about this story?
This is one of the must read cyberpunk series. Mr. Effinger died too young as I would have like to see hum expand on this series. He has a unique fully formed world. It is arabic in nature but also loosely based on the French Quarter in New Orleans where the author was known to hang out quite a bit. he caught the sleazy feel of the area and the internal desperation of the charachters caught in it. The Cyber elements may seem a little trope now, but he was the first one to develop a lot of these concepts.
What about Jonathan Davis’s performance did you like?
He has great range. Each character was distinct and unique. he also really caught the feeling and emotional content of the book.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Just the overall desperation of the main character. He isn't the standard sci fi/fantasy superhero. He is very flawed and often goes and gets drunk or high rather than deal with his issues.
Any additional comments?
This is a must have as I said in the header.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Loved it!! I have been waiting for any electronic versions of these, for me, definitive Effinger works. The story I already knew but Jonathan Davis did a wonderful job adding life to the characters. Actually Davis delivered voices very close to what was in my head each time I read the novels. If you like pulpy detective fiction, a taste of cyberpunk and the story taking place in an exotic (to us in the US anyway) part of the world you should enjoy this one a lot.
It's not an ordinary story there is drug use, mature subjects though tame dialog so know it's probably best to listen before deciding if it's for your kids. Depends on the kids. But the story is fun if let yourself get into things. And also it's a nice light read or listen, so I consider it sort of escapist material for those days when I just want to get away from news and the world. ;)
It is also refreshing to read a non-negative story with Muslim society as a plot mechanism. Granted these were written several decades ago. But it's nice none the less.
I can't wait until next month when I can burn a credit on the next book.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
I read this series several years ago and enjoyed them immensely. Recently I saw they were offered as audio-books and I took a chance - hoping they were as good as I recalled.<br/><br/>The voice actor is PERFECT for Marid - just the right blend of accent/age/humor. He manages to differentiate all the other voices/ethnicities of the book as well, so there aren't any moments of wondering "who said that".<br/><br/>So glad I gambled on this
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
The story was so-so, but the world was good, and the narrator was excellent!
I'm disappointed that all of the women or trans women are vapid secondary characters. However since this is more of a mystery it can *almost* be excused, since mysteries don't rely on character development as much.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I'm enjoying every word of this interesting story and it is narrated so well by Jonathan Davis. I am looking forward to listening to books 2 and 3.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
I could not figure out if the main character was a private dick or a pimp or both. The only thing I did know was that he was a drug addict and the only one in a city who has not had a sex change and enhancements.
I have no problem with a Muslim culture dominating in the future. Like most Americans I know very little about the culture. What I do know makes it hard to believe that such a culture would be accepting of the life style portrayed in this book.
There is a sort of William Gibson feel to the book and it seems the writer had the knowledge to have taken the book in another direction. The direction he took it was not the direction I wanted to go.
I am usually not a fan of this narrator, but he did an excellent job in this and it was not his fault this book was a failure.
28 of 36 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from George Alec Effinger and/or Jonathan Davis?
I love Jonathan Davis, as a narrator. He is excellent. He was the reason I downloaded this book.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
I could not reach the end of this book as the constant reference to drug use became what this book was all about. An interesting storyline and great take on detective noir was spoilt by the constant description of drugs, love of drugs, how many drugs and the effect they had on the protagonist. They are obviously important to the environment but it was all he seemed to discuss.
Which scene was your favorite?
The one without drugs. Oh wait, there wasn't one.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from When Gravity Fails?
If I was the editor I would have toned down the explicit use of illicit substances and focussed more on the character development and the other excellent cultural references in this book.
13 of 17 people found this review helpful
George Alec Effinger published this in 1986. Not too much about muslims then so it is interesting he has this dystopian thriller set in the future where the USA is fully broken, new boundaries formed and almost everyone is muslim... ok, I can live with that. Robert Ferrigno did it exceptionally well in his Assassins trilogy. But somewhere about 1/3 or 1/2 into this book, it is so heavily peppered with "allah bring you peace' and 'allah bless you' and 'by the will of allah' and allah be praised' and 'if allah desires' and 'allah praise your house'. Now I am not talking about any religious setting... it's used in every other sentence... 'it may rain, if allah wills' or 'goodbye and see you later, if it is the will of allah'' and 'would you like a ride, allah bless your children' sort of thing and it gets really tiresome. Take away all the allah lines and the last part of this book would be considerably reduced. Like taking away 90% of the adjectives from the latest Anne Rice books.
That said, I did not understand why all the sex changes. It seems no matter what sex a person was born, he/she wanted a sex change. Makes no sense. I realize our intrepid hero lives in the heart of the sex district, has several 'female' friends who used to be male. And vice versa. (I guess they like their vice, versa?) Still does not explain all the sex changes.
I have to say I never got to like Marid Audran. I realize he is meant to be a flawed protagonist and that's not usually a problem for me. But when you have a hard time caring if the lead character lives or dies, that is a problem. "Sandman Slim" (by Richard Kadrey) is certainly a flawed character and I LOVE him.
Effinger definitely created an intriguing, complex world and the writing is strong (minus all the allahs) and Jonathan Davis is brilliant as the reader but I am really slogging away trying to finish it.
16 of 22 people found this review helpful
This is an original and well-crafted story w vivid characters and compelling narration. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy action/mystery/nuance and thrill.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a well-paced cyberpunk novel, with lots of tension as the lead character, Audran, tries to solve a series of murders in an Arab ghetto. There were enough twists and turns to stop me figuring out ?whodunnit? before the end, and I also liked the descriptions of the technology involved.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Where does When Gravity Fails rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
This is one of the most absorbing books I have read combining innovation with new takes on old ideas and this sci-fi particularly thrives in the religious middle eastern setting.
What other book might you compare When Gravity Fails to, and why?
It is hard to pin this one down. There are echoes of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (BladeRunner)?'; echoes of Asimov's Robots and many non-fantasy works. It is about an imperfect man forced to carry out someone else's mission.
Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis – was your favourite?
Marid Audran. Totally bought into the emotion and the balance between his old life and the pressure to reform.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Hard to say, I was particularly struck by the fact that many people think the worst of the hero no matter how well intentioned.
Any additional comments?
Thoroughly enjoyed this and the sequel for the performance, the storytelling and the sense of a credible new world.