Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Memory Artist, by Ian R. MacLeod

★★★★☆ Memorable.

(Space Opera; Breathmoss) She created works that once made her wealthy and famous, but now she lives in a hovel in a junkyard, and can barely remember how she got there. (13,438 words; Time: 44m)

"The Memory Artist," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 05-06|19, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.241 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is about the unnamed memory artist’s attempts to recover her past. Each of the items on the bracelet (including the band) opens up a bit more of her past to her, and, at each step, her story seems stranger and stranger until suddenly we realize that things are not as they seem.

By the time we reach the “big reveal,” it makes total sense that all of her “memories” are wrong. When the memories of her childhood take her to what should be her own grave, it seems clear that these are someone else’s memories—not hers. (She can hardly have died as a child.)

The memory artist herself is somewhat annoying, especially at the start, but she grows on you as the story progresses, and by the end, much of what she’s done is perfectly understandable. The wraith kid is adorable, and it’s exciting to think that the union of the two of them might be a whole and powerful person.

Con: It’s hard to believe that the far future doesn’t have anything like Wikipedia. The Memory Artist (or her wraith) should be able to just look up info about bits of her remembered past.

It’s impossible to believe that although they have the remains of some of the original vessels used for colonization, they haven’t got a clue what men were or if they even existed. Even if human beings have become all female, there ought to be plenty of Earth-descended animals with male and female individuals.

It gets off to a really slow start. It doesn’t start to get interesting until about a quarter of the way in.

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