Book Review – A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger

A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger

A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger

The blurb says:

In a world filled with so many puppets, strings tend to get tangled. In this follow-up to the groundbreaking cyberpunk novel When Gravity Fails, the Budayeen is still a very dangerous place, a high-tech Arabian ghetto where power and murder go hand in hand.

Marid Audran used to be a low-level street hustler, relying on his wits and independence. Now he’s a cop planted in the force by Friedlander Bey, the powerful “godfather” of the Budayeen. Marid is supposed to simply be Bey’s envoy into the police, but as a series of grisly murders piles up—children, prostitutes, a fellow officer—he is drawn deeper and deeper into the city’s chaos.

Would Marid give up all his newfound money and power to get out of this mess? Absolutely. If only he could. But answers are never that easy and choices are never completely one’s own in the Budayeen.

In a lot of ways, this book is very similar to the first one in the series:

  • The title, although cool sounding, bears no relation to the contents of the book.
  • There are a bunch of OCR errors, which are understandable as it’s an old book with presumably no digital manuscript, but still could have been fixed by a simple readthrough.
  • The “future” of 1989 is missing a bunch of things from the current present, for example DNA testing.  It’s not the author’s fault for not being psychic, it just makes reading it a bit odd.

I didn’t think this book was as noir as the first one.  This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing – not everything has to be noir – but I found out about the first book from a list of noir sci-fi books, so it’s just something to be aware of if you were expecting it to be more of the same.

For a detective book it was pretty unclear what the mystery being solved was.  A lot of strange things happened, and the main character was trying to figure it all out, but it wasn’t ever as straightforward as something like solving a murder.

The only real disappointment I had with this book is that there wasn’t really a climax – instead of getting into a shootout or something the main character just has a meeting with the bad guy.

There is a bunch of interesting character development in this book – I think the author had a  journey in mind for the character over the course of the series, and it’s interesting to watch it happen.