04 October 2016

Children of the New World: Stories by Alexander Weinstein

Summary from Goodreads:

Children of the New World introduces readers to a near-future world of social media implants, memory manufacturers, dangerously immersive virtual reality games, and alarmingly intuitive robots. Many of these characters live in a utopian future of instant connection and technological gratification that belies an unbridgeable human distance, while others inhabit a post-collapse landscape made primitive by disaster, which they must work to rebuild as we once did millennia ago.

In “The Cartographers,” the main character works for a company that creates and sells virtual memories, while struggling to maintain a real-world relationship sabotaged by an addiction to his own creations. In “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” the robotic brother of an adopted Chinese child malfunctions, and only in his absence does the family realize how real a son he has become.

Children of the New World grapples with our unease in this modern world and how our ever-growing dependence on new technologies has changed the shape of our society. Alexander Weinstein is a visionary new voice in speculative fiction for all of us who are fascinated by and terrified of what we might find on the horizon.

When I made my galley list for BEA, Alexander Weinstein's debut story collection was near the top of my list.  Not just for the title - similar to that of an amazing novel by Assia Djebar about the Algerian revolution that overthrew the French colonial government in the 1950s and 60s - but also for being both speculative fiction and a story collection.  Sign me up.

Children of the New World is an excellently written, cohesive collection of short stories in the tradition of Philip K. Dick.  It's as if A Scanner Darkly, We Can Remember it For You Wholesale, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? begat some nieces and nephews who worry about humanity becoming obsessed with our devices and/or are so obsessed with virtual reality that people won't leave their houses for any reason. There's virtual sex, virtual school, custom-built siblings, brain-altering implants, and artificial intelligence that becomes alarmingly prescient (Siri, are you reading this?) Futurist technology is not going to make us happy in any of Weinstein's imagined timelines.

You can find Children of the New World in the Discover Great New Writers Bay at Barnes and Noble.

Dear FTC: I picked up a galley of this book from the publisher at BEA.

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