Thirteen stories illuminating the dangers of a tech-obsessed future.
In the opening pages of Weinstein’s debut collection, a man’s son begins acting strangely at the breakfast table, eventually slamming his head into his bowl of cereal. In short order, readers learn that this boy is actually a lifelike android, purchased by the family to act as a kind of cultural liaison and big brother to the couple’s youngest child, an adopted girl from China. This story, “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” contains many of the elements that populate the collection: a white male narrator; a setting about 10 or 12 years in the future when the borders between technology and humanity have become increasingly blurred; and a pointed moral. In the title story, a childless couple is able to conceive virtual children in the “New World” (a totally immersive virtual environment), but then must face all-too-real grief when a virus infects their account and they must delete all their data, including their kids. In “The Pyramid and the Ass,” one of two stories that take up the theme of Eastern spirituality as practiced by Westerners, Buddhist “terrorists” kidnap people who've had technology chemically and physically implanted in their bodies. Each of the stories feels utterly possible, and the worlds are deftly rendered—whether they show us the effects of climate change or new types of sex made possible by advanced technology. The strongest pieces are those that, like “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” explore the nuances of these imagined futures rather than simply romanticizing a world before social media ruined our abilities to interact with each other face to face and depleted our desire to connect with nature.
A cleverly wrought, if moralistic, group of tales.