Read Futureland by Walter Mosley Free Online
Book Title: Futureland|
The author of the book: Walter Mosley
Date of issue: November 12th 2001
Loaded: 1049 times
Reader ratings: 7.7
ISBN 13: 9780446529549
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 594 KB
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Walter Mosley, the author of the Easy Rawlins mystery novels (Devil in a Blue Dress; Black Betty; etc.) has a new story to tell. Instead of coasting on his success (Bill Clinton is a fan), in 1998 he took a left turn and published Blue Light, an allegorical sort-of science fiction novel that never quite found its voice, although it was a New York Times Notable Book. Blue Light must have been Mosley's SF false start, because Futureland rocks and roars from the first page.
Ostensibly a collection of short stories, Futureland reads more like a William Gibson novel. Minor characters in one story are major characters in another story, which gives the reader that MTV jump-cut sensation, but not so frantic with Mosley as it is with Gibson.
And what characters! The charm of Mosley's earlier books is that the characters are normal people in historical settings, getting by as best they can. But in Futureland the reader encounters the heavyweight boxing champion of the world (female); the most intelligent human ever; the mad scientist at the head of the world's largest corporation. These characters are neither normal nor historical.
So with sly nods to Hegel and DeLillo, Mosley abandons history and the common man. It's a great privilege for a reader to watch a good writer change his mind. In an essay on his website Mosley claims to have been an SF fan all his life. He knows the genre; he knows the language (before he published his first novel he was a computer programmer); and he knows that there is no better venue to change your mind than SF.
Mosley retains some of his favorite themes, though. All the exceptional characters in the book are full members of lively communities. The best story in the book-no surprise-is about a private eye. Like most hardboiled detectives, Folio Johnson needs friends on the force and on the street to survive. Unlike Easy Rawlins, though, he also needs wetware implants to keep from going down.
And race pervades this book like it pervades all Mosley's books. It is a theme handled well in all of the stories except for the final one ("The Nig in Me," go figure), where it is too over-the-top, and detracts from a lightweight story that was an SF cliché in the first place.
Also in the essay on his website, Mosley asserts that the next five years will see a wave of black SF writers. If Mosley stays with this genre, he'll lead them. He's as good as anyone writing SF today.
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Futureland is bestselling mystery author Walter Mosley's first science fiction book since Blue Light, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Futureland's nine linked stories will provide an accessible and intelligent introduction to written science fiction for mystery or mainstream fiction fans who do not normally read the genre. Experienced science fiction readers, however, may be less than satisfied with Futureland. Reading it, you might decide Mr. Mosley grew up reading SF, respects the genre, and still watches SF movies, but has read little SF written during or after the New Wave of the 1960s. However, something more may be going on here than a genre newcomer making beginning-SF-writer mistakes. Mr. Mosley may be deliberately, and craftily, creating SF accessible to his large non-SF readership and to others who are strangers to this genre. Some have labeled Futureland cyberpunk, and it does present a dark, infotech-saturated, corporation-controlled future; but it is in fact an inversion of cyberpunk. Instead of that subgenre's cliche of cool, cutting-edge, street-smart, but not very believable outlaws who out-hack and outwit powerful multinational corporations, this Dante-esque collection presents outlaws and outcasts who may be street-wise, but who have little chance of overcoming the corporations and governments that control, and sometimes take, their lives. Like shockingly few other SF works, Futureland directly examines the lives of the working and the nonworking classes, the poor and the marginalized, the criminal and the criminalized. In other words, Futureland is set in a world quite alien to many veteran SF readers, and is therefore a book they should try. --Cynthia Ward
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Read information about the authorWalter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.
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