Cathy 's Reviews > When Gravity Fails

When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
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Feb 01, 12

bookshelves: science-fiction, book-club, mystery, people-of-color, read-in-2012
Recommended to Cathy by: SciFi and Fantasy Book Club Feb 2012 Member's Choice
Read from January 30 to February 01, 2012

I really loved this book, I thought it had a timeless quality that held up remarkably well over the 25 years between when it was written and when I read it. Part of that is because of the old-fashioned/noir style of the detective aspect of the story. The Raymond Chandler, James Bond, Nero Wolfe traditional investigation, added to the Muslim culture, added a timelessness to the futuristic tale. 

The other thing that made it hold up over time better than a lot of books was that pretty much the only technology in it was the imagined tech of the moddies and daddies, the brain modifying technology the author created as a foundation for the story. Other than phones (which he did imagine portable and voice activated so it didn't stand out as awkward) this was the only tech, so it didn't have anything to feel outdated or "80s." I couldn't help comparing it some other detective books that I read recently, the Laundry books by Charles Strauss. They also reference to the old spy novels, but he throws in so much then-current technology, for instance the recently released Palm Pilot model, and tons of other small details, that the books immediately felt dated, even when recently released. The info was interesting but it was a risk over time. This story held up in a way that those couldn't. 

I had to wonder how the transgender aspects of the story were received in 1987. Some things that are just starting to be accepted now must have been much more provocative then, especially when paired with Muslim culture. 

I just liked pretty much everything about the book. It was dark and dirty, the people are not good people but they were interesting to read about, Marîd is not a good man but he's trying to be loyal to his friends, the Muslim culture was really interesting, the cybernetics were creative and cool to consider the implications of how they'd play out (if a little too convenient at times), the mystery had me curious, and the twist and the end where Marîd got totally screwed has me really interested in reading the next book. 
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Reading Progress

01/31/2012 page 13
5.0% "It's funny to read old books when people used to bang their phones down. This was written in 1987, I feel ancient."
01/31/2012 page 17
6.0% "The mix of elements is really interesting. Have to remember that this was before Richard Morgan, Neal Stephenson, etc."
01/31/2012 page 220
76.0% "Great mix of old-fashion murder mystery and culture-pushing sci-fi, really enjoying it." 1 comment

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