Disciple/Merge by Walter Mosley (book review)
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. Part of Walter Mosley’s ‘Crosstown To Oblivion’ series, these two short stories deal with the end of the world but not in the traditional sense. Both stories’ codas are a change of the status quo in a way that the human race may not be able to deal with.
In ‘Merge’, lead character Raleigh Redman has isolated himself from the world. Heartbroken over his girlfriend cheating on him but flush with cash after a lottery win, he wants to shut the world out and finally has the financial means to do so. His self-imposed exile is interrupted by the appearance of an alien creature that wants to bond with him for the benefit of the human race.
The other story, ‘Disciple’, deals with Hogarth ‘Trent’ Tryman who finds himself elevated from a lowly data entry job to CEO of his organisation with all the money and power he could possibly want at his fingertips, following a Faustian pact with an anonymous internet contact.
Although not directly connected, both stories have plenty of parallels. Both lead characters are African-Americans who are on the outskirts of society and suffer from crippling guilt over their situations. Redman, who has done nothing to earn the money which has freed him, is looking for what defines him as a man, in this case sex. While Tryman has trouble equating his new-found power with the actions he had to take to achieve it, no matter how positive they turned out to be. Both become martyrs for their respective causes and learn to accept their fate willingly.
‘Crosstown Into Oblivion’ is Mosley’s first foray into the Science Fiction world and he has taken his vast experience and applied it here. The Science Fiction element is secondary to the characters and that’s what makes this collection really stand out. You empathise with both leads and hope they realise a better world for themselves, if not a better world in general.
Both tales are an excellent insight into the human condition and how a regular person would react to a brave new world. Highly recommended and I for one will definitely be checking out the other volumes in this loose series.
(pub: TOR. 397 page flip-over hardback. Price: $24.99 (US). $28.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-3009-3)
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