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A Fire in the Sun    by George Alec Effinger order for
Fire in the Sun
by George Alec Effinger
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (1989)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

A Fire in the Sun follows When Gravity Falls as the second in a series set in a future Muslim society in North Africa. Unfortunately, I missed the first book and recommend that readers start there - though it is possible to jump in with this second, it takes a while to catch up on the anti-hero's background in this futuristic noir cyberpunk thriller.

Marid Audran was born in Algeria and grew up the son of prostitute Angel Monroe and a French sailor. In the first episode he became the right-hand man of Friedlander Bey, godfather (everyone calls him Papa) of the sleazy Budayeen area in Cairo and with tendrils of power across a fragmented world. Marid now resides in Bey's palatial home. He is also wired, so that he can plug in devices (daddies and moddies) to control his hypothalamic functions, allowing him to 'tune out fatigue and fear, hunger and thirst and pain', boost sensory input, and take on new personality modules. A friend calls him 'Silicon Superman', but Marid also continues his habitual dependency on narcotics.

As the story opens, Marid travels with his friend Saied to find his mother, in search of his roots. He then returns to the city where his new wealth and position (Bey has wangled him a job in the police force) has alienated him from old friends. This situation worsens after Papa assigns Marid his friend Chiri's bar, and gives him a Christian slave, Kmuzu, who's openly spying on him. On the job Marid's partnered with Shaknahyi, the two tasked with tracking down a serial killer. The trail leads them to investigate Bey's main rival (locally and as consultants worldwide), Reda Abu Adil, a man who makes a particularly foul use of masochistic moddies.

Our hero's investigation takes on momentum after someone close to him dies, and others (including Marid) end up in hospital. It leads him to a very sinister list ('the Phoenix File'), information on his own antecedents, and a lesson about supping with the devil. Sadly George Alec Effinger died in 2002, so his stories about future Muslim hard-boiled dick Marid Audran end with the third episode, The Exile Kiss.

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