When Gravity Fails

When Gravity Fails

by George Alec Effinger
In a futuristic Middle East, plug-ins can turn anyone into a killer in this “wry and black and savage” Nebula and Hugo award finalist (George R. R. Martin).

Set in a high-tech near future featuring an ascendant Muslim world and divided Western superpowers, this cult classic takes us into a world with mind- or mood-altering drugs for any purpose, brains enhanced by electronic hardware with plug-in memory additions and modules offering the wearer new personalities, and bodies shaped to perfection by surgery. Marid Audran, an unmodified and fairly honest street hustler, lives in a decadent Arab ghetto, the Budayeen, and holds on tight to his cherished independence.

Then, against his best instincts, he becomes involved in a series of inexplicable murders. Some seem like routine assassinations, carried out with an old-fashioned handgun by a man wearing a plug-in James Bond persona; others, involving whores, feature prolonged torture and horrible mutilations. Soon the problem comes to the attention of Budayeen godfather Friedlander Bey—who makes Audran an offer he can’t refuse.

Nominated for the Nebula and Hugo awards, the highest honors in the genre, When Gravity Fails, which introduced the cyberpunk Budayeen Cycle, is a pioneering work the Denver Post called “superior science fiction” and Harlan Ellison described as “crazy as a spider on ice skates . . . plain old terrific.”

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