In A Song for a New Day, novelist and musician Sarah Pinsker (Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea) imagines a future where avoiding human interaction has become the norm. After a series of high-profile bombings and mass shootings leaves thousands dead, the United States government outlaws public gatherings. Technology allows people to live in their own homes where, they believe, they'll be safe.
The narrative moves between two voices. Luce is a musician who fronted the band that was the last major concert headliner before the congregation laws went into effect. After concerts are outlawed, she's lost without a live audience. But, to her surprise, she discovers an illicit network of live venues. As dangerous as it is--the government is ruthless in jailing perpetrators and destroying venues--she opens her own underground club and begins performing again.
Rosemary is a young woman who doesn't remember a time before gatherings were illegal. Her schooling, shopping and dating have all been virtual. Her first experience at a virtual concert where everyone is an avatar, however, is transformative. She becomes an artist recruiter for StageHoloLive, the company that organizes and sponsors virtual concerts and events. This necessitates actual traveling to find underground musicians in order to convince them to join the virtual world. Her first major recruitment effort is to convince Luce to be a SHL entertainer.
The power of speculative fiction comes from the realistic depiction of future consequences of contemporaneous actions and beliefs. Pinsker uses the world of music, with its power to bring people together, as an urgent warning about the dangers of society withdrawing into itself. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.