Friday, 1 March 2013

A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger

The follow up to When Gravity Fails which means more drugs, more plug-in personalities, more baffling noir plotlines and more struggling with the Islamic faith.  And if anything, this is even better than the first book.

Slight SPOILER for When Gravity Fails, but in this our hero Marid has not only got himself wired (and, of course, got addicted to the daddies and moddies) but he's also a reluctant gangster, a reluctant business owner and an even more reluctant policeman.  None of which make him very popular among his group of friends.

He's now effectively the right hand man of the gangland methuselah Friedlander Bey.  Their relationship is very interesting - Marid fears and hates Papa Bey, but there's a real love there too.  He stays at Papa's house and has a Christian slave to banter with. That's another interesting relationship, as the slave is really his minder.  This is a common theme in this book - the more power which Marid seems to aquire over people just ends up trapping him more, and leaving him more isolated.

Marid also has a less than tearful re-union with his mother.  He can't stand her because she's an ageing whore, but he knows as a good muslim he should honour her.  And he's guilty because she's just the kind of woman (or man) he spends most of his time with anyway.  Should you hold your mother to a higher standard than you hold yourself?  This kind of soul-searching is where this book excels - this is a real journey for Marid, and it's always convincing.

The plot.....yes, I do vaguely remember a plot.  There was certainly a good baddie - an even worse version of Bey, who makes his henchmen plug in his own personality so he can have sex with himself.  Creepy.  I didn't really follow it all to be honest, but I have to read Chandler books a few times to figure out the plot as well.  Doesn't mean I'm not having fun reading them.

There's one more full book in this series (The Exile Kiss - got it on my kindle already) then a few chapters left over when Effinger died.  It's so refreshing to have a series of sci-fi books where the main character is the most fascinating aspect.  The name Marid means sickness by the way - his mother named him that so disease would be fooled and leave him alone.  I'm not sure how, but that seems to sum him up nicely.

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