REVIEW: When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger

REVIEW SUMMARY: Fun, exciting read : a thriller masquerading as a sci-fi book.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Marid Audran is the typical gumshoe caught up in matters well above his station – a plot involving corrupt police, merciless crime lords and a series of gruesome murders.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Quick read, fun, exciting prose – the story moves along quickly throughout.

CONS: Few characters are sympathetic (well, except the poor strippers)

BOTTOM LINE: A fun book – a great way to spend a day sick at home during the holidays.


COMMENTARY: This is a fun book, a great thriller, with some reasonable mystery thrown in. This could easily be a Raymond Chandler book, in all honesty.

The sci-fi elements sadly don’t add much to the book and I was mildly disappointed by this. There was no need for the brain implant concept introduced in the book – they didn’t advance the plot, except to provide fuel to some depravity. In fact, they could have been left out and had the killer merely be a psycho (which I suppose he was in any case) and the book would have been just as good.

I agree with the commentary that the protagonist didn’t act very much – he does appear to drift a bit and things do seem to just happen to him. It flows together well but as I said above, nobody in this book is really somebody you’re going to sympathize with and that includes the main character.

The traditional elements of cyberpunk aren’t present in this book except that the telling is a detective thriller set in the future. Normally we expect to see things like hackers, artificial intelligences, a global internet, or mega corporations. If you’re fan of that hack Gibson, I don’t think you’re going to care for this book.

Finally, I feel this book isn’t as good as Stephenson’s Snow Crash. That book is hard sci-fi where the sci-fi actually means something. If you’re looking for another book like that, you’re apt to be disappointed (as you can probably tell I was – at least a little.)

I still had fun and enjoyed the heck out of it, hence the strong rating. I just can’t give it the glowing review that John did.

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