Thursday, November 7, 2019

You Must Remember This, by Jay O'Connell

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(SF Drama; Zeitgeist) In 2055, Maura is resurrected after 13 years and has to figure out how to fit in, but she’s obsessed with finding out who brought her back and why. (19,895 words; Time: 1h:06m)

"You Must Remember This," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 11-12|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.597 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Once you accept the what-if, the 2055 described in this story is pretty good. For example, improved technology has made everyone’s lives better—even the lives of poor people—but it has lifted the rich people to undreamed of highs. Weird as Maura’s job is (which is just about as weird as she is), she makes money the old-fashioned way: she’s created something the public wants, something new and different, and she collects on it.

The one-shot pills to fix learning disabilities and addictions are less-plausible, but the story does a good job of showing us how they affect Maura simply through her internal dialogue.

In plot terms, the story is really about Maura creating a fulfilling life for herself in this strange new world. To start with, she’s got to learn how the new technology works and figure out what happened to her old friends and relatives. Then she needs money to track down some people (including her anonymous benefactor), so she gets involved with wrestling again. Once she’s contacted Jain and Jonah, she needs to figure out how she feels about them and what she wants to do moving forward.

Con: The what-if is a little hard to swallow: an emergent AI fried a big part of the Boston-Washington conurbation before retiring to being a useful application for everyone.

The biggest problem, though, is that Maura is a self-destructive jerk, and it’s not much fun watching her hurt herself over and over. For me, the hardest to believe was when she blocked Jain because she knew she was bad for him.

There’s a more subtle problem: the story feels like it’s over when she finds Jain, and all the rest of it feels like an oversized epilog.

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Jay O'Connell Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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