George Alec Effinger has ruined me on cyberpunk. Holy hell, he’s SO DAMN GOOD. Seriously. I just want to cram all of his words into my brain all at once… it’s a trial to space them out.
So. These books are CyberPunk, near-future, with an Arabic twist. They have extremely interesting and plausible technology (people chip-in “moddies” to give themselves extra information, or whole new personalities). It’s pretty cool. But perhaps the most impressive part is that while the technology is definitely highlighted, the characters are still the major focus. Effinger creates some really impressive, emotionally involving characters… all very realistic and sympathetic and flawed. I kind of get a twinge in my chest thinking about them. Everything about these books is just smooth and incredible and engaging.
My one caution with these books is that they can be extremely brutal, much like some of China Mieville’s work. Particularly in the second book there’s a scene where Our Hero takes a fairly vicious beating, and I actually had to put the book down for a while and calm down. It wasn’t just gore or vivid descriptions – the books are just that evocative; you really get that involved in the characters. For better or for worse.
The Bottom Line: It sucks UNIMAGINABLY that Effinger died, because I have never read better cyberpunk. You absolutely must read these books.