UNIVERSAL LOVE by Alexander  Weinstein


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Eleven new stories about our potentially weird future.

Weinstein (Children of the New World, 2016) made a big splash in SF with his debut collection and follows it up with nearly a dozen stories that are just as creepy and will fit right in if you’re watching Black Mirror. The opener, “The Year of Nostalgia,” comes especially close to that particular flavor; it concerns a family trying to deal with grief by interacting with their hologram relatives. In “Beijing,” we find people living in the last days of the climate crisis erasing unpleasant memories of the things that hurt them most. “Comfort Porn” takes the concept of Tinder and similar apps to an unpleasant destination. Really, it’s all a prescient warning about technology, not that we really need a warning at this point. In “We Only Wanted Their Happiness,” indulgent parents give their kids access to information that turns them into little monsters. “True Love Testimonials” is, yes, a little weird, with its post-Tinder confessions about how to hook up with, say, a guy you can make look like your ex, or hosting “morphing orgies.” Things get stranger. In “Childhood,” the kids...malfunction, and we’ll leave it at that. Inevitably, in “Sanctuary,” we discover aliens, but in the most unusual and dangerous place imaginable. Time travel? Sure, why not? In “Infinite Realities,” we meet someone trying to find the version where they get it right, for once. We’re running out of time, so to speak, but there’s something to say about abandonment in “Mountain Song” and, finally, another dry look at the end times in “Islanders.”

In dark times, we get entertainment that reflects the world we’ve made. Welcome home.

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-250-14435-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020