Moving far from the milieu of Easy Rawlins and Socrates Fortlow (Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, 1997, etc.), Mosley offers two novellas in one volume, part of a series entitled Crosstown to Oblivion, the common theme being, "a black man destroys the world."
In The Gift of Fire, the Titan Prometheus escapes from the bondage and torture imposed on him by the Olympians for bringing mankind the gift of fire and alights in present-day Los Angeles, intent on bringing humans a second gift: that of enlightenment, so they can free themselves from unwitting slavery at the hands of those selfsame Olympians. But so spiritually impoverished is the modern age that Prometheus finds he cannot bestow his gift without killing the recipients or driving them insane. Finally he comes upon a physically helpless black boy, Chief Reddy, who fantasizes about being a superhero and saving the father he never knew from the forces of doom. What happens next will come as no surprise to fans of Robert A. Heinlein's classic Stranger in a Strange Land. Flip the book, and read again from the front, like the old Ace doubles, to encounter On the Head of a Pin, where Joshua Winterland works as a documenter at a company designing a fiber-optic tapestry, the Sail, intended for advanced animatronics editing techniques. But to everybody's surprise, the Sail turns out to be something quite different: a window into alternate worlds and times. Joshua finds he’s particularly attuned to the device and soon contacts beautiful Thalla of the Alto, a future race created by humans and perpetually threatened by a remnant humanity guided by a huge computer. Complications ensue when the government gets wind of the device.
Ingenious and mystical, although readers familiar with fantasy and science fiction will find little new or provocative here. Fans of Mosley's gumshoe noir books (or Blue Light, 1998, his earlier foray into the domain) will certainly wish to investigate.