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When Gravity Fails Paperback – Oct 13 2005

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (Nov. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765313588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765313584
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #348,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“Like a dive into the eye of a storm.” ―The Washington Post Book World on When Gravity Fails

“Fast, cool, clever, beautifully written, absolutely authoritative. A kind of cyberpunk Raymond Chandler book with dashes of Roger Zelazny, Ian Fleming, and Scheherezade--but altogether original.” ―Robert Silverberg on When Gravity Fails

“Ingenious, layered, sophisticated, and consistently bloodcurdling, When Gravity Fails kept me awake long after I had finished reading it.” ―Spider Robinson

“Great entertainment...Places Effinger in the company of writers like Gibson.” ―Fantasy Review on When Gravity Fails

“Superior science fiction . . . among the best I've come across.” ―The Denver Post on When Gravity Fails

“A brilliantly written, knife-edged futuristic detective story . . . destined to be the year's most intense and emotionally involving SF work.” ―Houston Post on When Gravity Fails

“Wry and black and savage... there's a knife behind every smile.” ―George R. R. Martin on When Gravity Fails

“Muscular, convincing, yet continuously surprising.” ―Richard A. Lupoff on When Gravity Fails

“One of the best cyberpunk novels I've read . . . Effinger's prose is terse, direct, vivid and often laced with an enchanting sense of humor . . . this is only part of the book's delightful texture . . . gives you a real sense of what it's like to be an old-fashioned gumshoe in the seedy backreaches of a futuristic arab nation.” ―The Providence Sunday Journal on When Gravity Fails

“Wry, inventive, nearly hallucinatory . . . a well-written, baroque riff on the time-honored themes of Raymond Chandler.” ―Publisher's Weekly on When Gravity Fails

“This is the fourth or fifth time I've been asked to give a public comment on an Effinger book; and each time I've done it; and each time I've said you people are cheating yourselves if you don't forego food and rent to pick up on Effinger's work. Now, *this* time, will you for pete's sake listen to me and buy When Gravity Fails? It's as crazy as a spider on ice skates, plain old terrific; and if you don't pay attention I'll have to get tough with you! We have your childen and your dog. Buy, read and marvel...or else.” ―Harlan Ellison on When Gravity Fails

About the Author

A winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, George Alec Effinger was the author of What Entropy Means to Me and Schrodinger's Kitten. He died in 2002.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Cyberpunk is a genre with which I have never had great affinity. My previous attempts to read it (“Virtual Light” by Gibson and “Feersum Endjinn” by Banks) failed in impressing me, though, ironically, I have ventured into writing (also) this sub-genre of science fiction. In short, I suspected that the problem wasn’t the sub-genre in itself, but that I had come across the wrong titles, at least for what concerned my personal tastes. In fact, I have always had a lot of fun in reading more recent books in which the cyberpunk element was important but not dominant (as the Void Trilogy by Hamilton).
Luckily, when I started reading Effinger’s books I had no idea of being in front of one of the fathers of cyberpunk in its period of greatest development, the 80s. This shows how the labels sometimes do more harm than good. I had only two books of the series, which I got at different times, without even knowing that they were connected. As soon as I started reading the first, and I was captured by it, I immediately strove to find a copy of the third, because I knew I would’ve needed it very soon.
Having read all of them in a row, I decided to review them together, because it’s hard to judge them separately without being influenced by previous or subsequent readings.

The Budayeen trilogy (it would be more correct to call it a series, since the author had planned at least two more books, which unfortunately he had no time to write before his death) is not only cyberpunk. The story is set in two centuries, in a rough neighbourhood, the Budayeen, in an unspecified city in the Arab world. In the future imagined by Effinger people get their brain “circuited” to be able to insert some modules that provide the individual with new knowledge, skills, and even personalities.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
For my money, this is the definitive work of the cyberpunk genre. All the classic elements are there: just-beyond tomorrow technology, drugs, sex, and a casual disdain for human life. Style is far more important than substance, as eloquently expressed in the form of moddies, jackable personality recordings that make you whomever you want to be. Hard, objective truth is by turns an inconvenience or a victim to practicality and hypocrisy.
The two most engaging things about this novel are, in fact, the two things that should stand out in any novel: the characters and the setting. Most often in scifi these both take a back seat to technology. In "Gravity", the technology exists only to enhance the characters, as we see how they use (and abuse) its capabilities. Best of all, Effinger captures the film noir quality of cyberpunk with style and elegance. The good guys might win, but it is a pyrrhic victory.
If you're looking for the feel-good hit of the summer, take a pass on this one. If you want a novel with style, grit, and integrity (and not a little cynicism), this is an excellent choice.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Effinger has created what might at first seem an impossibility -- a cyberpunk, film noir murder mystery set in the Middle East. Where is the Budayeen? That's not important (although from references it seems to be near Egypt); what is important is the characters. The people, from Audran to Papa to Half-Hajj all fit in this world. You know what they look like, feel like, smell like, and if ever they act out of character you know something is wrong. This is a world of shadows and sand, one where there is trickery and deceit around every corner. The mullahs call you to prayer and people wire their brains to alter their personalities. Life is cheap, sex is cheaper, and everyone has to look out for himself. There is nothing heavy-handed in the way Effinger puts this together. He is stylish without being self-conscious. You will be drawn in and only want to read more about this world he has created. This is a fantastic book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fun book, worth hunting down. I must admit it has its problems...primarily that the plot is weak and the author goes into long tangents that don't forward the plot and are occasionally painful to read. For instance, a perpetually hallucinating taxi driver occupies several pages for no purpose, and just isn't funny.
The sci-fi Mid Eastern setting of the book is probably the most interesting world I've ever seen in science fiction. Effinger writes in a smooth, readable style, and doesn't get bogged down in over-explaining the science, as most science fiction authors do. The scenes of the protaganist tryng to get information out of the crime boss, while carefully observing all the required pleasantries of Middle Eastern social ettiquite, are alone worth reading the book. The sequels aren't as good, but the setting of the book is intriguing enough to keep you wanting more.
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