The place is the United States. The time, the near future, 2020-2040. Here, justice is blind and the ranks of the disenfranchised have swollen to a toxic level. High tech rules the day while human nature, for better or worse, remains constant.
This collection of nine stories that conjure up an alternate world represents Mosley's second excursion into science fiction, following 1998's Blue Light. Science concerns Mosley less than character does (his Easy Rawlins series of detective novels is likewise richer in character than complexity of plot). This new book probes the implications of class and race, crime and punishment, freedom and technology in a country that has perfected drugs worth dying for yet can't resolve the crippling cycle of poverty. The interlocking fables include tales of a child prodigy who finds that God is transmitting messages through radio waves, prison inmates forced to wear high-tech shackles and unemployed citizens confined to octagonal sleeping tubes beneath New York City. "The weight of poverty, the failure of justice, came down on the heads of dark people around the globe," writes Mosley. "Capitalism along with technology had assured a perpetual white upper class."