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Futureland Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2002
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Some characters recur in different stories. For the most part the recurring characters are cameo appearances (e.g. Folio Johnson, a detective and the lead in one story, commiserates at a bar in another). However, the character of Ptolemy “Popo” Bent is a critical character in both the first and penultimate chapters.
Race and politics aren’t subtle in this book. Given the [sad] proclivity of American readers to only read / enjoy politically-charged works with which they agree (unless the book in question is making fun of the opposition), it’s safe to say that—on the whole--those at the left-end of the political spectrum will find this book more palatable and on-point and those to the right-end will find it unbelievable and overbearing in its message.
Having said that, I’m of the persuasion that finds Mosley’s dystopian vision strains credulity, and yet I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories. This book’s dystopia is characterized by global domination by a corporation and a religion called the “Infochurch,” both led by the same man. The corporate control of the world storyline is a little hard to swallow. A monopoly can’t enslave people (or even enforce its monopoly status) unless it has a monopoly on force, and it’s hard to imagine a path by which a private business gets the people to give them a monopoly on force. That being said, Mosley’s stories are engrossing, creative, and readable.
The nine stories are as follows:
1.) Whispers in the Dark (6 Chapters): A man makes the ultimate sacrifice to help nurture a brilliant child’s special gift.
2.) The Greatest (9 Chapters): A female boxer becomes the world champion while seeking to help her father, whose addition to a drug called Pulse has left him in dire health. (The father’s story, Voices, appears later in the collection.)
3.) Dr. Kismet (4 Chapters): The man who is, for all intents and purposes, Emperor of the World tries to coopt the co-chair of the 6th Radical Congress—a leading member of his opposition.
4.) Angel’s Island (5 Chapters): A hacker, sent to prison for Antisocial Behavior, has a device called a snake-pack installed that can control him by administration of drugs and shocks. But the ultimate hacker might not be the most easily controlled using technology.
5.) Electric Eye (4 Chapters): Folio Johnson, a private eye with an electronic eye, is hired to find out why young International Socialists are dropping dead left and right. Johnson learns that any hardware, even his eye, can be hacked.
6.) Voices (8 Chapters): Professor Jones, father of the female boxer from The Greatest, undergoes a transplant of neural matter to repair damage from his Pulse addition. After having dreams and memories that are not his own, Jones discovers that his treatment is not all that it seemed.
7.) Little Brother (3 Chapters): Frendon Blythe is on trial before a computer that acts as both judge and prosecutor. He pleads his own case, and finds he was a pawn.
8.) En Masse (12 Chapters): A worker gets sent to a new division only to find that it’s nothing like his previous divisions. Instead of strict rules, GEE-PRO-9 has no rules. He wonders if it might be a test by the management. It turns out that it is a test--just not of the type he imagined.
9.) The Nig in Me (6 Chapters): After a plot to destroy certain races backfires, a surviving man finds himself missing those with whom he was closest.
There’re no stinkers among these stories. They are all intriguing and readable, but a few of them stood out as being particularly good. These were: Whispers in the Dark, Angel’s Island, Voices, and En Masse.
I’d recommend this for readers of soft science fiction.