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
From Publishers Weekly
After the qualified success of his first science fiction novel, Blue Light (1998), Mosley (best known for such mystery fiction as the Easy Rawlins series) returns with nine linked short stories set in a grim, cyberpunkish near-future. Unfortunately, heavy-handed plotting and unconvincing extrapolation weaken the collection's earnest social message. "Whispers in the Dark" introduces prodigy Ptolemy Bent, who will grow to be the smartest man in the world in spite of his poverty-ridden childhood. Ptolemy reappears in "Doctor Kismet" as an adviser to assassins trying to kill the richest, most corrupt man in the world and as the brains behind a series of global plots to overthrow the status quo in "En Masse" and "The Nig in Me." Champion boxer and much-hyped female role model Fera Jones steps away from the ring to take hands-on responsibility for the influence she wields in "The Greatest." With its easily befuddled talking computer justice system, "Little Brother" is more Star Trek than high-tech cyberpunk. In more familiar territory for Mosley, PI Folio Johnson investigates a series of murders linked to Doctor Kismet in "The Electric Eye." Although packaged as SF, this book is likely to disappoint readers of that genre who've already seen Mosley's themes of racial and economic rebellion more convincingly handled by authors like Octavia Butler. Mystery fans, on the other hand, are far more likely to embrace this latest example of Mosley's SF vision, with its comfortably familiar noirish tone and characters, than they did Blue Light. (Nov. 12)Forecast: With a five-city author tour and national print advertising, both mainstream and genre, this title book should be slated for solid sales.
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