A hypnotic collection of speculative fiction about compassion, love, and human resilience in the technological hyper-age, from Alexander Weinstein, author of Children of the New World.
Universal Love welcomes readers to a near-future world where our everyday technologies have fundamentally altered the possibilities and limits of how we love one another. In these gripping stories, a young boy tries to understand what keeps his father tethered to the drowned city they call home. A daughter gets to know her dead mother's hologram better than she ever knew her living mother. And, at a time when unpleasant memories can be erased, a man undergoes electronic surgery to have his depression, and his past, forever removed.
In an age when technology offers the easiest cures for loneliness, the characters within these stories must wrestle with what it means to stay human in an increasingly cybernetic future, and how love can endure even the most alluring upgrades.
In the vein of Weinstein’s critically-acclaimed first collection, Universal Love is a visionary book, written with one foot in the real world and one stepping bravely into the future.
Set in the near future, Weinstein's troubling and compassionate collection (after Children of the New World) imagines some dire ramifications of social media and robotics. In the sweetly comic "The Year of Nostalgia," a dead woman returns in the form of a hologram, complete with memories and personality traits assembled from her social media accounts and diaries. Leah, the reanimated woman's daughter, discovers a more adventurous, free-spirited version of her mother than the Midwestern housewife she remembered, since the hologram has been programmed to act on her desires for travel and romance. The portentous "Beijing," set in a future version of the city so polluted that it's only possible to navigate by stopping at stations that dispense breathable air, follows a gay American expatriate whose lover has become addicted to having his memories removed through microsurgeries, leaving the men's relationship suspended in the present. In the chilling "Childhood," the robot "son" of a suburban couple observes his older robot sister becoming addicted to illicitly smoking her "emotion card" through a glass pipe. Though some of the stories lean on intriguing concepts without developing complete narratives, the collection convincingly explores many potential effects of social engineering. Channeling Ray Bradbury with contemporary allegories, Weinstein will make readers think twice about their relationship to technology.