Children of the New World

In the title story of the collection Children of the New World, the narrator and his wife raise digital children in a computer simulation as immersive as real life. The couple's system, however, has contracted a virus, and they must reboot it, deleting --killing--their loving offspring. "If it's any consolation," says tech support, "they won't feel a thing; they're just data."

It's precisely this uncomfortable edge between the real and digital that Alexander Weinstein plays with in these poignant short stories. Themes of parenting and family dominate. The big brother android in "Saying Goodbye to Yang" must be decommissioned after a fatal malfunction, his voice box relocated to a framed photo, his synthetic body buried in the backyard. The rebellious boy in "Migration" refuses to stay indoors and online like a good child; meanwhile, his father learns a valuable lesson outside. The peacemaker in "Ice Age" must manage his neighbors' brutal, selfish interests while struggling to survive with his family in an igloo atop a Midwestern town now buried under thick, frozen ice.

Weinstein explores catastrophic climate change, the spiritual ramifications of digital/body interfaces, sexuality unfettered by the human body, and how over-sharing thoughts and dreams digitally could profoundly change how people experience reality. His worldbuilding is subtle and virtuosic. The characters and stories in Children of the New World will continue to affect readers deeply long after the final page. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

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