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cover of Alexander Weinstein's book Universal Love

Alternative Realities

Alexander Weinstein reads at Literati

by Keith Taylor

From the January, 2020 issue

Four years ago, Ann Arborite Alexander Weinstein received a lot of praise for his first book, a collection of futuristic short stories called Children of the New World. It took our fascination with electronic devices and social media to conclusions logical and illogical, with results that were funny and terrifying.

His brand-new book, Universal Love, picks up where the first left off, sometimes telling stories from the near future and at other times going much further, into a future where our world is unrecognizable. There are several apocalypses available in Weinstein's imagination. In one story the world has dried up, been used up, and the Great Lakes are just deep, dry canyons. In another the world has flooded, and isolated people live on tiny islands, diving down to drowned cities to pilfer the waterlogged remnants of our civilization.

In "Sanctuary," terrifying insect-shaped aliens invade our computer games and social media: "the bugs were some kind of living being trapped within our immersive worlds-the most real thing in our unreal realities-and though the insects could interact with our coding, there were no traces of them in the programming, no data whatsoever." Computer engineers aren't able to kill them but manage to isolate them in electronic corners. There the aliens look out at us and start to make a sound that we recognize as a song.

In "Infinite Realities" a physicist and a programmer work in an Ann Arbor lab, trying to find ways to intersect with a parallel universe that is separated from our own by a very thin veil of reality. They find a parallel Ann Arbor, complete with a Blind Pig and a Nichols Arboretum, and the programmer finds his alternative girlfriend. Against all the rules, he jumps across the gap. Unlike his real girlfriend in his real Ann Arbor, the one in the parallel universe makes time for him and does the things he likes to do. And the sex is great! Of course, once he has broken the barriers between these two realities, bad stuff start to happen. Things don't end well for the programmer, but it makes a wonderful story.

Alexander Weinstein reads from Universal Loveat Literati on Tuesday, January 21.     (end of article)

[Originally published in January, 2020.]

 




 
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