Alternate perspective on this is supplied by Speculiction who was less impressed than I was.
Raw Feed (1988): When Gravity Fails, George Alec Effinger, 1987.
An excellent book that makes me want to read its model Raymond Chandler.
While this book does have the elements of cyberpunk: underworld characters and schemes, a hi-tech polyculture, it has much less of an emphasis on tech though the cybernetic “moddies” and “daddies”, brain plug-ins that alter personality or supply knowledge, are standard cyberpunk gear, and something much like them appears in Swanwick’s Vacuum Flowers. Personality modification is used to a different, more probable effect than Swanwick.
Orson Scott Card’s blurb about this book being cyberpunk after it grows up is somewhat valid. There is a good deal more real emotion and characterization than in Gibson or Sterling’s work. Literarily, Effinger’s book is every bit as style conscious as Gibson though it is an imitation style.
Marid’s relationship with his friends and lovers and the other colorful denizens of the Budayeen is well-done and one feel’s Marid’s romanticism, rage, disillusionment and eventual realization of just how sleazy his world is.
The ending leaves open the possibility of a genuine, needed sequel not just more of the same.
Though the plot was rather formulaic (in homage to its model) it was still suspenseful and at time horrifying.
Gibson’s work has humor, but here Effinger’s ironic, wry, dry, and savage humor perfectly fit. The Arabic setting — a seldom seen, exotic setting — was well done.)
A theme of corruption and compromise laced through thebook.
All in all something of a tour-de-force.
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