cover image Blue Light

Blue Light

Walter Mosley. Little Brown and Company, $30 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-316-57098-5

You have to admire Mosley: with a gilt-edged brand-name character (Easy Rawlins)in his locker, he still can't resist venturing off in new directions. Sometimes his effort to break new ground works beautifully, as in RL's Dream; sometimes it's an interesting misfire, as in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned.This time, however, it seems plain misguided. Blue Light is an odd mixture of science fiction and inspirational fable about a sort of cosmic ray that enters into a handful of people, giving them superhuman faculties, and the struggle some of these ultra-evolved folk have with the spirit of Death, who has also been granted special powers. Beginning in Berkeley during the hippie love days (well observed, as Mosley's West Coast scenes always are) and eventually migrating into the deep forests of the Sierra, where a group of ""blues"" create a sort of idyllic pastoral retreat, the story is mostly told from the viewpoint of Chance, a half-breed drifter. One of its more original aspects is that several of the characters, enacting roles similar to those often given by other writers to Native American shamans and seers, are black. There are some jolting scenes of sexuality and violence, and some arresting images, like the vocalizing trees experienced by the ""blues""; but the biology is insufficiently imagined, the time sequence is sometimes confusing and a sort of vague poesy that is a far cry from Mosley's typically sinewy prose is the predominant style. Time-Warner audio; author tour. (Nov.)