Children of the New World Summary & Study Guide

Alexander Weinstein
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Children of the New World Summary & Study Guide Description

Children of the New World Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein.

NOTE: Citations in this Study Guide refer to the following version of this book: Weinstein, Alexander. Children of the New World. Picador, September 2016. (Paper Edition).

Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World is a fragmented collection of vivid short stories. Each tale takes place in the not-too-distant future starting from 2026 and moving forward into an unknown time. Each story details existence in a futuristic society where life is fast-paced and complicated and where society is trying to find its place within the technology that has been developed.

The reader gets a sense that each of these stories actually takes place within the same world and follows a chronological pattern, despite the lack of years presented in most stories. The first clue readers get about the timing of these stories is in the chapter titled “Excerpts from The New World Authorized Dictionary.” Here, readers are informed that this story takes place around 2026. The timeline continues when, four stories later in “A Brief History of the Failed Revolution,” the author uses fictional citation ranging from 2028 to 2034.

There are 13 short stories in total. The majority of them zero in on one character and his or her life. In a number of the stories, readers are not made privy to the names or genders of the narrators. Additionally, many of the stories do not indicate an exact setting. However, this does not dull any imagery or personal connection to the characters. Weinstein places a focus on humanity and human feelings within each story presented within the collection.

In the first story, titled “Saying Goodbye to Yang,” readers are immediately made aware that this futuristic society has embraced advanced technology because Yang is a robotic brother purchased to keep the narrator’s daughter happy and comforted. The progression of technology continues in further stories, “The Cartographers,” “Moksha,” “Children of the New World,” “Migration,” “The Pyramid and the Ass,” and “Openness,” where people have switched from receiving comfort from robots to seeking comfort in virtual reality. In this future world, people are using virtual reality to remember things that never really happened to them. For example, “The Cartographers” focuses on an engineer who programs virtual memories which are then uploaded into people’s minds. For people who want to manufacture inner peace instead of memories, “Moksha” offers enlightenment in the form of virtual reality. But these interactions are not always positive. In “Children of the New World,” readers meet a childless couple that struggles for affection in the real world yet enjoys family time when they get online. They have created virtual children and the couple spends their evenings with the children online. However, their curiosity for the unknown possibilities hiding in the darker sides of this world eventually lead to heartache that breaches the digital world and entrenches itself in their lives.

While technological advancements play a large part in each story, one in particular hones in on the ethics behind these new inventions. Scientists and developers have found a way to embed information into a person’s consciousness. They want to connect to the innermost part of a person’s soul. This brings about quite the controversy in “A Brief History of the Failed Revolution.” This unique story provides readers with an objective academic paper where fictional sources are cited in such a way that readers feel they are learning more about the progression of Weinstein’s society.

The author’s world is bleak and at times dystopian, with heavy threads of disappointment and hurt throughout. In “Heartland,” a struggling father wonders how he will ever be able to provide for his family, while Ronnie Hawks in “Fall Line” does not think he will ever be able to be himself again. Many of the characters find themselves isolated despite the fact that other humans surround them. In “Openness,” the main character, Andy, struggles to open up to his new girlfriend. In his world, everyone holds their own memory data in their bodies and chooses how much of it to share with others. Andy’s girlfriend encourages him to completely open up to her, but the consequences of such an act leave him crushed and alone. The narrator in “Heartland” finds himself as an out-of-work father of two who feels lost in the world he is living in.

Many of the characters venture out in search of themselves, either virtually or physically. In “Moksha,” Abe travels all the way to Kathmandu, Nepal in search of instant enlightenment and self-awareness. However, the further Abe ventures away from where he started, the more he realizes just how good he had it before he left. He longs to be back home—back in the same dorm room with the same girlfriend talking about the same things he used to. Readers see this feeling in a number of the stories, where, despite their efforts, the characters just want to be back home with a person who loves and accepts them. In “Heartland,” the failed father drives home drunk in order to get back to the family he wants to be with. In “Migration,” a father struggles to connect with his son. In the end, they find a connection through throwing a ball against the wall of an abandoned Toys R Us store. Adam, in “The Cartographers,” misses the simplicity of enjoying friends and a lover in his life, while Andy, in “Openness” wants to go back to a simpler time.

The greatest difference in tone comes in the final story titled “Ice Age.” Readers find themselves in a futuristic world that has lost all technology. The few survivors, who have managed to make it through the initial freezing over, find themselves back in a world of hunting and gathering. There are no electricity or creature comforts in this world. The characters in this story live in primitive igloos and struggle to stay alive. However, the story ends with a line that something spoils, “. . . what was once our community” (226). Gordon, the main character, witnesses how quickly a strong-knit community of people can untether with the promise of even just a few comforts from the old world. Loyalty runs thin in “Ice Age” and technology has somehow been lost.

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