- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 924 KB
- Print Length: 378 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (4 Jun. 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00CSCNJSI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,664 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent World Kindle Edition
|Length: 378 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
The world still turns & the celebs, working stiffs, leaders, victims, technocrats, crooks & revolutionaries still have to get by with the hands they're dealt.
This near-future science fiction thriller held me firmly in its grasp from the fly leaf to the last page. Every chapter is an individual story yet when all is read & done - it is very well done!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Author Walter Mosley's nine inter-related stories tell of this near-future and, especially, of the position of blacks in a supposedly racially integrated world. While occasional anarchistic resistance can slow the forces of capitalism run beyond any rules (and FUTURELAND is filled with stories of this resistance), the overall tendency of history cannot be stopped.
Although FUTURELAND was written before the events of 9/11, the encroachments on liberties that Mosley forecast in these stories appear far less paranoid and far more near at hand than they could have to the average reader when Mosley wrote them. Readers do not have to agree with Mosley's dark message, nor share his fears about neo-Nazis ready to cleanse the world of non-white blood, to see the frightening possibilities that Mosley shares.
In the initial story in this series, Whispers in the Dark, Mosley adopts a dialect-heavy style that makes reading difficult. Stick with FUTURELAND. The payoff is worth the effort and Mosley's later stories are far more approachable, from an ease of reading perspective, if even darker from their take on the world.
The worst thing about Futureland is its title - I suspect an editor wary of making the book too innaccesible to non-SF readers (or perhaps even Mosley himself worrying about such problems), but whoever made the choice, it does not excactly sparkle with originality or invite wonder in anyone approaching the book. It deserved better.
The book itself is composed of nine linked stories set in a world where corporations have divided up the planet, and people are forced to live according to strict socio-economic and geographic constraints, even to the extent that New York, for example, is divided into three horizontal layers, where the poorest never see the sunlight. America remains the dominant power but it is forced to export many of its social problems: the growing prison population is now housed on privately-run islands where the drug-controlled prison population is used as slave labour. And of course, those who bear the brunt of this crusshingly divided world order are black. Race and gender politics are everywhere in this book, from the new opportunities generated by a world champion boxer who is a black woman (clearly drawn as a female Muhammed Ali) who can beat the best male fighters, to the onward march of the International Socialists, a depressingly realistic neo-Nazi movement. The latter are dismissed by various characters in the book as unimportant, marginal or simply 'conservative' (a justification used by a member), however they gradually assume a central importance as the trajectories woven in the various separate tales are threaded together towards the final stories. As in Blue Light, the tone of the conclusion is downbeat, the final story almost an epigraph, despite the overt hope of renewal.
As an SF setting, and even as a collection of short stories, Futureland might not stand up to close examination were it not for three factors. The first is Mosley's righteously angry politics (mentioned above), the second is his obvious love for the genre, and his knowledge of its past. Another reviewer compared Futureland very unfavourably to the work of William Gibson, as cyberpunk fiction. However I feel this misses the point. Gibson also understands the context in which SF is written, witness his fabulous early story, The Gernsback Continuum, which mixes Twilight Zone style plotting and the 'airships and aryans-in-togas' imagery from the 1930s pulp magazines, yet which makes a very contemporary point about memory and its relationship to our visions of the future. Mosley also mixes all sorts of iconic SF images into his work: there are the info-monks, with their blue cloaks and their brains made visible by plastic domes, there is a superintelligent megalomaniac attempting to rebuild Atlantis and colonise Mars, and an equally gifted child prodigy who finds ways of speaking to God through radio noise. There are also SF images from the New Wave period: a world-weary 'electronic private eye', a man suddently startled to find his dull existence turned downside-up by a fortune he struggles to understand, a prisoner who can liberate himself and others only through his own death and so on. The final factor is Mosley's ironic sensibility. These iconic SF devices are skillfully strung together with (also like Gibson) a delightful and sometimes disturbing use of irony: for example, Vietnam which has struggled to liberate itlsef from the French and then the Americans, and then (some might argue) from its own form of communism, has succeeded, only to find itself divided up and owned by trans-national corporations.
Futureland doesn't succeed entirely, and this is largely dues to the variable quality of the stories. Some, like the opener Whispers in the Dark; the prison drama, Angel's Island; the future private detective tale, The Electric Eye; and the multi-layered both hopeful and disturbing closer, The Nig in Me; are superb - others read more like fillers. Perhaps this is simply personal preference. The only work I can think of that compares to Futureland is John Brunner's massive New Wave dystopia, Stand on Zanzibar, another ambitious brilliant-but-flawed work packed with irony, from an equally angry and socially-aware author.
Two messages, then:
To Walter Mosley - I can only beg you to ignore the occasional detractors and keep writing science fiction alongside the brilliant crime writing.
To everyone else - read this book, it's important.
As far as race is concerned - the people who feel threatened by insinuations that black people are not treated fairly in today's world should seriously examine their assumptions. In Futureland, there is no hardcoded institutional racial discrimination - no Jim Crow laws - just like today. In Futureland, overt racism only comes from individuals, not government - just like today. In Futureland, most of the people in power are individuals who are racist yet believe that there is a level playing field - just like today. In Futureland, the cumulative effect of hegemony and class biases is a devastating one for blacks - just like today. Every single issue raised in this book is really one about people who happen to use technology, not technology. That makes some people nervous, but that is the genius of Futureland; its sharp focus on the essentials does not give quarter for intellectual complacency.
And all that while weaving a brilliant tapestry of interwoven stories.
The story comes first. Each story has a beginning, middle and end. Interesting, believable characters. Love stories, good against evil stories and murder mysteries. The futuristic aspects are just intertwined into the stories and do not overwhelm the purpose which is to tell a good story. While we don't know exactly how long in the future these stories come from, enough is the same that you could imagine Futureland as one possible evolution from where we are today. Some stories build on characters from others, so it is best to read the book from front to back. While the stories are enjoyable separately, together they illuminate a captivating, but very disturbing world. Intelligence is considered a national natural resource and the most promising young minds are compelled to serve the state. Body parts can be sold for massive amounts of money on the black market. Corporations control everything including countries. Today's Wall Street mergers and acquisitions are taking to the extreme as whole cities and even countries are bought and sold. New York skyscrapers are 300 stories tall with the classes distributed between the top, middle and bottom. Below is the wasteland of Common Ground where you go when you are unemployed and sleep in a tube like some Japanese businessmen today. If you are not employed you loose most privileges of citizenship. You screw up too many times and you become "White Noise", bereft of all privileges, any possibility to regain them and forgotten by everybody. This world is revealed layer by layer through the daily lives of the characters in each story. It is much like learning about another city by reading a mystery novel set there. The conflict and challenges of the characters are engaging you as a reader and the backdrop of their world is adding spice. That is the way is should be. Very satisfying. I will probably read them all again in 10 years and see if we are still heading in Mosley's predicted direction or have found another path. While entertained by Mosley's vision of the future, I hope we find another way.
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