Acclaimed and prolific writer Walter Mosley believes science fiction writers are a cut above the rest: “That’s my experience—the people I know who are science fiction writers are the smartest of all the writers I know in general. And I think that science fiction readers are the freest.”
Mosley, best-known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, has dabbled in science fiction before. This time out he’s written six novellas in a series titled Crosstown to Oblivion: The Beginnings of the End—Fragments of Six Shattered Worlds, which will be packaged like old-fashioned double flip books (after reading one story, you turn the book over and upside down to read the second); the first, from Tor, The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin, was just published. Although the story lines of the six novellas are separate and self-contained, in each of them a black man destroys the world.
Mosley takes the long view when discussing what readers can glean from his varied work. “You write a novel, and that’s maybe 15% of what that novel has the potential of being. Over the years, if you’re lucky, people read it and read it, and it grows and grows and grows. The thing I love the most is the amount of literature written on Shakespeare. There’s no way in the world he could have possibly had all those thoughts. But all those thoughts are attributable to his work because the works grow as time goes. And that’s just the way I think about it. It’s hard enough for me to write that story—but the idea of saying what somebody might get out of it, well, that’s something we do together.”
The author has a unique perspective on writing science fiction. “The fact of writing it is revolutionary, especially being a black writer in America today,” Mosley says. “We don’t historically and culturally have a big stake in the future, and we had no stake in the past. It’s almost like we don’t have a history. And for a person without a past to create a future for everyone is a revolutionary act, so I really like writing science fiction for that reason.”