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The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion Hardcover – May 8, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765330083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765330086
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of this nation's finest writers.”
—The Boston Globe

“A writer whose work transcends category and qualifies as serious literature.”
Time

“Mosley is one of the most humane, insightful, powerful prose stylists working today in any genre. He’s also one of the most radical… Immerse yourself in the work of one of our national treasures.”
The Austin Chronicle

“Walter Mosley delivers the goods...explosively distilled prose as powerful as homemade booze.”
Chicago Tribune

About the Author

WALTER MOSLEY is one of the most versatile and admired writers in America today. He is the author of more than thirty-four critically acclaimed books, including the major bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and The Nation. He is the winner of numerous awards including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America's most celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless Jones series, including Fearless Jones, Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark; the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream; and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I felt that most characters seemed too thin, almost like props meant to deflect the story one way or another.
loce_the_wizard
I always love science fiction stories that involve parallel universes, and this story has a highly creative and different approach.
Lynne E.
He can create good characters, a sense of urgency, and a fast moving plot, all of which kept me turning the pages.
BrianB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By loce_the_wizard VINE VOICE on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I just finished The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley. In the first short novel of the two, The Gift of Fire, Mosley imagines a different outcome for the Titan Prometheus, who escapes his fate of being chained to a rock and tormented by the eagle eviscerating him, to deliver "fire" to mankind a second time. The first part of the tale recounts Prometheus' adventures in modern Los Angeles and his rather abrupt quest to find a worthy caretaker of his gift to man, knowledge and power that, to me, conjures the idea of kundalini being released and uncoiled.

The story then shifts to the viewpoint of Chief Redd, the bedridden boy who gains, for a time, a new life and sets out to awaken mankind (or at least a portion of it as Mosley paints with a wide brush when he depicts good vs. bad) to a more enlightened existence. The supporting characters flounder as stereotypes, and the story stumbles to, for me, a less than satisfactory conclusion that makes little sense.

I liked the concept and characters in On the Head of a Pin more, and this science fiction morality tale of magic mirrors, debased motivations, and Avatar-like interactions across time-space dimensions seems, at first, like it could be a fun story. However, Mosley takes us on a strange ride, focusing on how racism, interstellar genocide, and corrupt power sharply shift the life course of Joshua Winterland (am I reaching too much looking for some link to the Winterland Arena and Josh's ability to see and interact with the Sail?) who ends up being party to the strange goings-on at Jennings-Tremont Enterprises that lead to what is postulated as the greatest discovery by mankind ever.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on March 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mosely is a skillful writer, one who writes with energy, style and verve. He can create good characters, a sense of urgency, and a fast moving plot, all of which kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed reading both of these short novels, although I was slightly dissatisfied after finishing, because the author uses them to promote a worldview that I do not accept. Whether you agree with that view or not, these are entertaining stories.

Mosely has written several series of detective novels, but these stories are something different. They concern themselves with the same general topic: a sudden expansion of human consciousness, one that puts the main characters into contact with beings, dimensions, and possibilities to which humans have been blind, due to the malign influences around us. Those influences include false religions (every mainstream religion is guilty and false), big government, white people, the police, or the power structure in modern society. Mosely does not dwell for too long on the negative, spending more time and energy on the possibilities of growth and change. One tale concerns the Gods of Olympus, and the Titans of Greek legend, when Prometheus comes to the Los Angeles County jail system. The other concerns an advanced technology that has some unexpected capabilities, putting humans in touch with beings from another time and place. The characters love, hate, experience joy and sorrow, I a way that affects the reader deeply. That is what I look for in a novel, and that is what I found.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By CG VINE VOICE on June 7, 2012
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I did not know what to expect from this book, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started each of the two stories within this book. I do not want to reveal the stories, but I assure you that the realistic settings are accurately described and that the allusions are amazing and plentiful.

Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, the stories seemed to take ingenious turns. I look forward to reading interpretations of the stories as I am sure there is plenty of subtext that I missed in the rush to find out what happens next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K.C. Cole VINE VOICE on July 17, 2012
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Walter Mosley is a skilled writer in the sense that he can wield a tale with the best of them. I have been a fan of his writing for years and his mysteries are some the best tales I've ever read. I still miss the Easy Rawlins character and hope that one day he comes back, better than ever. The two short novels presented in this book are very well written. They take the reader on a journey through the writer's imagination and return you to Earth wanting more. I think Mosley has a gift for using his style to keep you turning the pages. I did feel like I was left hanging at the end of the stories, like there was much more to be explored, but unfortunately wasn't. They are good stories, indeed, but not nearly up to the level of his Easy Rawlins mysteries.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Walter Mosley is well-known for his mystery novels (the Easy Rawlins, Fearless Jones, and Leonid McGill series). This book is totally different: it consists of two short fantasy stories, each with a philosophical twist.

In "The Gift of Fire", Mosley envisions Prometheus' return to earth. The immortal, taking on the name of "Foreman Prospect", rekindles the nearly-dead spark remaining from his original gift of fire, and gives mankind a second, even greater, gift of fire. The second gift, a force for healing, compassion, and sharing, manifests itself through the Pentecostal preaching of a young boy, known as "Chief Redd", who is cured of near total paralysis by his reception of the second gift on mankind's behalf.

In "On the Head of a Pin", Mosley imagines a situation in which a technological gadget--developed as an animation tool to create movies indistinguishable from live action--turns out to connect with, and display on a woven wire screen called "the sail", all of the thoughts of all of the creatures that have ever existed on the planet earth. Different individuals see different "movies" on the sail; and, depending on their innermost personalities, may see things so disturbing that they will die from merely watching.

I enjoyed reading both of these stories, but especially liked "On the Head of a Pin". I always love science fiction stories that involve parallel universes, and this story has a highly creative and different approach. I rate the book at 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4 stars.
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