Booklist Review



These marvelous stories, insightfully introduced by Effinger's third wife, novelist Barbara Hambly, blend cyberpunk, quantum mechanics, and Islam. Their setting is the Budayeen, a walled-off collection of pungent clubs, coffeehouses, personality shops, family homes, and marginally responsive police stations in an unnamed, near-future Islamic city — the backdrop, too, of Effinger's novels When Gravity Fails (1987), A Fire in the Sun (1989), and The Exile Kiss (1991). Strongly resembling New Orleans' French Quarter, the Budayeen is ideal for Effinger's anti-hero, Marid, an unreliable, probably drug-addicted policeman who owes his position to the district's wealthy, powerful patron, the appropriately named Papa. The stories conjure a culture of "invisibles," ranging from the girl in "Schrodinger's Kitten," who foresees a flood of potential futures based on an attack in a dusty alley, to the stripper in "Marid and the Trail of Blood," who is convinced a vampire is loose on the streets. By turns comic and stern, sexy and serene, Effinger's world will appeal to both fans of cyberpunk and fans of Maureen McHugh's cultural sf.

— Roberta Johnson

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