Author: Walter Mosley
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: 2001
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Source: Public Library
The citizenry of America struggles for survival in a dangerous, twisted future
In “Whispers in the Dark,” an ex-con sells his organs to ensure his brilliant nephew’s future. The boy will grow up to have the highest IQ ever recorded, but the uncle, who sold his eyes, won’t be able to see it. In “Voices,” a history professor becomes addicted to a drug called pulse, which gives him access to a world of vivid fantasy while tearing his brain to shreds. By the time the professor qualifies for a brain transplant, he’s no longer sure what’s real and what’s imagined. And in “Angel’s Island,” a convict in the world’s largest private prison reveals the facility’s chilling secrets. In this critically acclaimed collection of stories, noir legend Walter Mosley takes his unique vision of American society into the future. As the nation descends into chaos, its citizens wonder, Is the world ending, or has the apocalypse already come and gone?
One of my main issues with Futureland was the plot. It seemed that Mosley had a great idea about where he wanted to go with these short stories and how to connect them but was not able to deliver. When the collection opened with "Whispers in the Dark" I was excited it showed so much potential. I wanted to know how the other eight stories would later to connect to the first. I kept reading and reading, one story after another. Waiting for the connections to happen. There were little glimpse of connection and then finally I reached the end and was like "WHAT?... Whatever." The ending was just out of place and I couldn't see where it came from, it was abrupt and seemed like it was just place at the end to close the book. I think several more stories scattered through was really needed to glue the whole thing together.
Also, the timeline seemed a bit off. The stories take place somewhere around 2023 and the society he picks seems why to advance, especially for a book written in 2001.
I didn't have any issues with the characters in Futureland as individuals. At times it was hard to keep track of them and when one would show up in a different story I would find myself searching my brain for where that character first showed up.
Overall, the characters in this book was probably Mosley's second greatest strength. They were all so different and after each story, it felt like I knew just enough about the main character to move on. Mosley did falter in that some of the stories hinted that the character would return in a major way and it didn't happen. For example in "The Greatest" we are introduced to the only main female character in the collection Fera Jones. Her storyline is quite unique and I was hoping that I would see more of her, there was a hint that she would be a major player. But when we next see mention of her, it's just a mention and that's it. If her story and the one involving her father's "Voice" were removed from the book, I don't think it would have made much of a difference.
This is the first time I have ever read anything by Mosley, but I am very familiar with his name and his other works (mainly mysteries). Mosley is clearly a talent writer and his writing kept me engaged enough that I finished the book quickly without a problem. Each story was well written and I enjoyed Mosley's style.
I was excited when I read the first story because it gave me a "Twilight Zone" feel and I was hoping that he would keep that theme up throughout the book. While the mood of the other stories in the collection was dark, the first story was the only had "Twilight Zone"ish feel.
I honestly have no complaints about his writing and enjoyed it enough that I would pick up (and plan to) another one of his books and read them without hesitation. I just probably wouldn't read anymore SciFi written by Walter Mosley.
Explanation of Rating:There were too many plot problems and too many missed opportunities to bring the nine stories in this collection for me to give Furtureland a higher grade. Mosley is clearly an excellent writer with a great talent, but Futureland did not live up to my expectations.
Final Grade: C-