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CNET Book Club, Episode 4: 'Down the River Unto the Sea' by Walter Mosley

We talk to the legendary author about his detective fiction, including a new book set in modern-day Brooklyn, as well as his genre-bending sci-fi.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Dan Ackerman
Scott Stein
2 min read

Best known for his larger-than-life detective characters like Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill, Walter Mosley has also written some amazing science fiction, taking a dark view of a future beset by the same problems of race, justice, politics and economics as his hard-boiled crime novels. 

Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to talk to him about both his new work and his speculative fiction.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

His latest novel is "Down the River Unto the Sea," which introduces a new character, a disgraced former police detective named Joe "King" Oliver. 

From his private detective's office in a rapidly gentrifying section of Brooklyn, Oliver uncovers a conspiracy to frame an activist for murder. At the same time, he gets his first shot in a decade at clearing his name in the scandal that got him kicked off the force. 

It's a great hard-boiled modern detective story, with just enough nods to technology, from hacked databases to tracked cell phones, to give it a different feel than the LA-based Easy Rawlins novels, mostly set in the 1940s and 1950s.

Another of our favorite Walter Mosley works is 2001's "Futureland," a collection of nine interconnected short stories set in near-future New York. 

The book feels even more current now than it did 17 years ago, with megalomaniacal billionaires planning Mars colonies, wearable technology to both enhance and control us, and advanced spy tech that can track anyone or anything. It reads like a perfect season of Black Mirror.

Watch or listen to our in-depth conversation with the always fascinating Walter Mosley, and if you've read "Down the River" or "Futureland," leave us your thoughts or a review in the comments below.

About CNET Book Club

The Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman (author of the nonfiction video game history book "The Tetris Effect"), and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We'll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.

Previous episodes


Find "Down the River Unto the Sea" at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play

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