A “brilliant collection” of short stories set in a “marvelously realized, imaginary Muslim city” from the Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Long identified as a science fiction writer, except in his own eyes, George Alec Effinger had some of his biggest critical and commercial success with a series even he recognized and characterized as SF. Set in the marvelously realized, imaginary Muslim city of Budayeen, the three novels, When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun and The Exile Kiss garnered rave reviews, award nominations and a wide readership. In addition, Effinger came to be recognized as one of the foundational writers of cyberpunk. Although the novels are perhaps how Budayeen and their hero, Marid Audran, are best known, there are a handful of shorter pieces that add to the vividly drawn and deeply authentic picture of an imagined world and seven short stories, the first part of an uncompleted novel and a story fragment add to the mental images of this exotic and yet somehow completely familiar city and world that Effinger created. This book was originally published by Golden Gryphon Press and comes with a Forword and story notes by Effinger's widow, Barbara Hambly. The lead story in this collection, "Schrodinger's Kitten," won the Hugo, Nebula and Seiun Awards.
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.). Mar d 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 "Mar d Throws a Party," the projected opening of Word of Night, a fourth Budayeen novel, Mar d 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.FYI:Fantasy and mystery writer Barbara Hambly, Effinger's third wife, provides an introduction and commentary on individual stories, which in many cases vary from previously published versions and represent the author's preferred texts.