A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The techno and social cyberpunk element is in full force in this novel, whether it comes from grifting, thugging, or betrayals. The second novel in the trilogy feels almost like a day/night alteration in the MC after he's left open to so many enormous mods to his brain and spinal column, in how he has not only come to grips with and uses all the tools now in his toolbox despite his fear.
But this isn't only a novel of coming to grips with what is now himself, altered. It's also a novel about coming to grips with his family, his co-workers, of getting justice even though he has become an enforcer for a Muslim kingpin, of coming to grips with his old compatriots who had shunned him after he did what he had to do in the previous novel.
The world set around 200 years in the future is gloriously detailed and fascinating, while still remaining the same old shithole of Noir storytelling... in other words, it's still very much a cyberpunk tale, but the focus is more on power and dominance and just trying to eke out a niche in his world of steadily decreasing choices. Drug abuse helps, some, but he finds out that squashing his enemies is much more satisfying.
And more than anything, these are absolutely character novels. Marid is fascinating and complex and I can't help but feel sorry for him; he's a tragic figure that's modded to become a perfect tool... the perfect opposite of what he'd always wanted for himself.
And then the reveals are pretty sweet and tragic, too, because now he has even less ability to break free. I can't wait to see how the third and last novel plays out. This is very readable and steeped in a very non-western attitude, which only adds a lot of spice to the cyberpunk. :)
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