George Alec Effinger, 55, a prize-winning science fiction author who laced his novels and stories with dark humor, died Friday in New Orleans. The cause of death had not been determined.
Mr. Effinger wrote nine novels, including thrillers and myster- ies, and six short-story collections. He enjoyed early success with his first novel, What Entropy Means to Me, in 1972, and with a series of "cyberpunk" novels in the 1980s, including When Gravity Fails.
A novelette, Schrodinger's Kitten, won the Nebula Prize in 1988 and the Hugo - awarded at the annual world science fiction convention - in 1989.
He was perhaps best known for a series of stories featuring Maureen Birnbaum, a shopping-crazy teen dropped into settings and situations that parody science fiction. The stories were collected in 1993 in Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordperson.
Steve Tshwete, 64, South Africa's security minister and a leading figure in the fight against apartheid, died Friday.
Mr. Tshwete was hospitalized April 9 for severe back pain. He contracted pneumonia, suffered kidney failure and died late Friday, said Smuts Ngonyama, a spokesman for the African National Congress.
President Thabo Mbeki ordered that the country's flags be flown at half-staff until his funeral, which has not been scheduled.
"This untimely death had robbed our country of an outstanding freedom fighter, an ANC leader, a Cabinet minister and a committed leader in the reconstruction and development of our country," President Mbeki said in a statement.
Born in 1938 in King William's Town in eastern South Africa, Mr. Tshwete became involved in politics at an early age, and after leaving school joined the ANC's struggle to overthrow South Africa's apartheid regime.
He was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to a 15-year term on Robben Island, the notorious island prison off Cape Town where former President Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years.