BOOK REVIEW: Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
Fans of the show Black Mirror are bound to find something to like in Weinstein’s collection of stories. Each of these stories has something to do with technology, whether that be humanity’s reliance on it, the ways in which it warps our interactions with each other, or how we deal with a sudden loss of it.
Some of the stories do cross the line into the bizarre, especially the ones where technology affects the way people have sex, and one in particular where people can add additional genitals to various parts of their bodies in order to continually amp up the sexual experience. There are also plenty of dark themes and situations in which people are pushed to their most desperate of limits. Weinstein explores that breaking point, and looks into how far people might go to fix things, hinting at some pretty awful things but never spelling it out for readers.
But there are also some really touching moments showing how, when the shit really hits the fan, people from the otherside of whatever the relevant divide might be, will still reach out a helping hand to other humans in distress.
Of particular note are the following stories:
Saying Goodbye to Yang
In a world where people are no longer able to breed, but rather clone themselves in order to continue on the family name, our main characters decided to adopt a baby girl from China. In order to help with the cultural differences, they purchased a robotic “Big Brother” who is loaded with fun facts about their daughter’s country of origin. We join the story the day Yang (Big Brother) malfunctions and “dies”, and get to witness the fallout.
Our main character works for a company that build memories for people. Memories of perfect family holidays, as well as heroin addictions for artists wanting darker aesthetics, affairs for couples who’d never cheated on one another, gunfights for rappers, and suicide attempts for Goth kids.
After a complaint is made about one of their memories, the most forward-thinking member of the group suggests they go into each others’ manufactured memories to catch any errors before they’re sold.
Our MC gets addicted to these memories and finds it hard to differentiate between the things he experienced and the things his colleague created.
Children of the New World
People get caught up in an online world, similar in style to Second Life (but way more advanced), and a childless couple end up having children in this world. But then they become infected with a computer virus.
People from each school district get together once a year for a party, during which they send the least liked child into space in a rocket.
While every single story in this collection doesn’t wrap up in a way that leaves the reader sure of what went on, enough do that it’s a satisfying read, and most of the others will resolve over time as they simmer in the reader’s mind.
A highly enjoyable collection, and definitely worth a read, but if you read them all back to back they will do much the same to your brain as watching episode after episode of Black Mirror back to back. You will emerge with one heck of a book hangover, and it might take you a while to re-acclimate yourself to the “real” world.
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