Created by George Alec Effinger
This was an unexpected success — a mind-blowing cyberpunk mash-up of Raymond Chandler and 1001 Arabian Nights that didn’t have any reason to work as well as it did. Although, come to think of it, cyberpunk owed a good deal of its grittiness and jaded cynicism to the hard-boiled private eyes of the pulps and film noir, a prime example being William Gibson’s modern sci-fi 1984 classic Neuromancer which boasted some of the best Chandleresque prose I’d seen in years.
Anyway, it’s the late 22nd century, and pill-popping street hustler and sometime “private strongarm” MARÎD AUDRAN lives in an unnamed Arab city in the Budayeen, “a polycultural…underworld so grim, stark and sleazy that, according to Spider Robinson, “it makes Blade Runner’s Los Angeles look like Sunnybrook Farm.”
It’s a world where folks can jack a new personality module directly into their brain when life gets boring. In the first book, 1987’s When Gravity Fails, a psychopath who can’t decide if he’s James Bond or Jack the Ripper starts terrorizing the Budayeen and Friedlander Bey, local crimelord, hires Marîd to make the streets safe for crime again. Soon enough, our hero’s fierce independance, not to mention his life, are at stake. Especially when he decides to get his own brain wired, in an effort to catch the killer.
In the sequel, A Fire in the Sun (1990), Marîd again finds himself forced to work for Bey, and by 1990’s The Exile Kiss (1990), he’s risen through the ranks to become one of Bey’s most trusted “enforcers.”
Literate, and provocative, Effinger got bonus points from me for using both Chandler and Bob Dylan quotes in the epigraphs. Unfortunately, Effinger passed away in 2002. His widow, fellow sci-fi writer Barbara Hambly, edited and wrote a foreword for Budayeen Nights, a 2003 collection of various short stories and other bits and pieces, all featuring or somehow connected to Audran and Budayen.
- “A breakthrough novel…This is what cyberpunk will be when it grows up.”
— Orson Scott Card on When Gravity Fails
- When Gravity Fails (1987) | Buy this book | KIndle it!
- A Fire in the Sun (1990) | Buy this book | KIndle it!
- The Exile Kiss (1990) | Buy this book | KIndle it!
- “Marid Changes His Mind” (May 1989, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine)
- “The World As We Know It” (1992, Futurecrime)
- “Marid and the Trail of Blood” (1995, Sisters of the Night)
- “Marid Throws a Party” (2003, Budayeen Nights)
The projected opening of Word of Night, the uncompleted fourth Budayeen novel
- Budayeen Nights (2003) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Foreword by Barbara Hambly. Includes all the Marid stories, plus several other stories, most set in Budayeen.
- Down Those Mean Skies
An ever-expanding list of Sci-Fi P.I.’s.