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Journal of No. 118


January 6th, 2015

Budayeen Nights, by George Alex Effinger @ 09:21 pm


Some weeks back, I think therrin started a thread about SF/noir detective fiction, and I recalled George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails and its sequels. The Wiki page mentioned a detail of which I was unaware: "Effinger started work on a fourth Audran novel, Word of Night, but died before that work was completed. The existing chapters of Word of Night are now available in the posthumously published Budayeen Nights, along with some other Budayeen and non-Budayeen short stories."

And so, a little ebaying, and here I am with an ex-library copy of the Golden Gryphon edition of Budayeen Nights. The foreword and story introductions are provided by Barbara Hambly, and they are (in addition to being useful and insightful) occasionally uncomfortably frank about his problems with alcohol and drugs, which he used to combat the physical and mental pain in his life. In volume 2 of things I didn't know, Hambly and Effinger were briefly married near the end of his life.

Despite that depressing lead-in, it's still delightful to hang out with Marîd again in his usual haunts, in and around the events of the existing novels, and also in one story set long after those events. Other stories don't feature Marîd, but are clearly in the same world, including the Nebula and Hugo winning "Schrödinger's Kitten" (which struck me as being merely great, rather than award-sweeping) and "King of the Cyber Rifles," which has more to offer than just the cleverness of the title.

"The City on the Sand" from 1973 is less interesting as a story than as a look into the proto-Budayeen, inhabited by proto-Budayeen characters and Effinger's stand-in, Sandor Courane. It helps to draw the line from what Effinger was up to in the 70s to When Gravity Fails. And the other bookend is a peek into the unfinished fourth novel, with what counts as a short story to set things in motion.

I had the great fortune to meet Effinger briefly, and express my admiration for his work, when I was a lowly gofer, helping out at the 1996 Nebula Awards, which were held at the Queen Mary. And while we're name dropping, Barbara Hambly was kind enough to come to the very first EnigmaCon back in 1987.
 
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Journal of No. 118