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Inventing Memory Hardcover – April 3, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (April 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312865392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312865399
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,009,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harris (Accidental Creatures) makes questing for the inner goddess look like child's play in this intriguing but sometimes uneasy mix of SF, romance and feminist fantasy rooted in ancient Sumerian myth. In the first of three "books," a young Semite slave/priestess, Shula, serves the demanding goddess Ananna, but she prefers a rival goddess, the more balanced, dark-winged maiden, Belili-Lit. Book two flashes forward to depict Shula's contemporary teen counterpart, Wendy Chrenko, who also has a mystical encounter with a dark-winged girl, whom she calls Lili. Wendy falls in love with Ray Mackie, an artistic boy from a dysfunctional family, but tensions mount after Ray becomes an identity thief and Wendy discovers feminism in college. The last section shakily integrates the two worlds via a human/computer interface experiment, which Wendy, determined to find proof of a prehistoric matriarchy, undergoes after her dissertation is rejected. Harris complicates the rushed ending with the return of a reformed Ray who attempts to "rescue" Wendy. If the implausible feel-good epilogue leaves some readers scratching their heads, Harris demonstrates that the time for the sexes to search for common ground is always now.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Shula is a slave in ancient Sumeria who becomes a priestess of the goddess Inanna when she participates in a miracle that returns sacred birds to a temple rite. Wendy is in middle school, though for most of the story she is a modern graduate student recovering from a failed relationship and a victim of a conservative anthropology department uninterested in feminist scholarship. She wants to prove the existence of an ancient matriarchal society rooted in the myths referred to as old by the Sumerian myth cycles, and to do so engages in a dangerous experiment in virtual reality computing. Shula, trapped in the stories of Sumerian legend, and Wendy, seeking proof of a matriarchy, are brought together when it becomes clear that Shula is an element in Wendy's simulation--though it isn't quite that simple, of course. In wrestling with the feminist issues of Wendy's dissertation, Harris occasionally skirts preachiness, but she redeems herself nicely with a satisfying, if somewhat romantic, ending. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a minor quibble--it's science fiction after all!
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
There is a great deal of historical detail and the characters are mostly those found in historical documents (such as the Epic of Gilgamesh).
Helen Hancox
I like books that I can pick up and can't put down from the first page.
Katie Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on November 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
At first this novel seems forced and poorly constructed, but by the end of the story Anne Harris wraps up her disconnected storylines in a very intriguing and creative fashion. The first part of the book operates as a novella about a slave girl in ancient Sumer, Shula, who has an epiphany about the obscure ancient goddess Belili. After this, the main bulk of the book is about a modern young woman named Wendy, who as a forlorn teen misfit has her own vision of Belili and decides to study the ancient mythology of Sumer. At first these two plotlines have little to do with each other and you might even think you're reading a collection of novellas rather than a full novel. But in both cases Anne Harris has definitely made herself knowledgeable on ancient Sumerian mythology, and she makes great use of such folklore in a modern fictional context. Eventually we find that Shula and Wendy are connected via advanced virtual reality experiments, and this is quite a creative concept on the part of Harris, although the sci-fi and technological aspects of this plot device are a bit under-explained. Harris's ruminations on love and belief can get a bit sappy and melodramatic, and the book's undercurrent of goddess-centric feminism gets pretty heavy-handed. But this is still a mostly successful and intriguing use of Sumerian mythology in speculative fiction, and the underlying themes concerning modern life are effective. [~doomsdayer520~]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on November 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I stayed up all night to finish this book.

This book starts off in ancient Samaria, where a slave named Shula who meets the goddess Inanna and becomes one of her priestess. But then she meets the goddess Belili and the snake of knowledge and finds her approach to the world much less demanding and selfish. But just when the story gets going we are sent to the present day, to meet a girl named Wendy.

Wendy has rough experiences in middle school, the boys teasing the girls making fun of her, and then she discovering the goddess and learns not to care what people think of her. She also meets Ray, a young artist who loves Wendy's view of the world and their relationship takes off. But Ray had an abusive father and soon his after school job gets a little rough, causing problems for him and Wendy.

But was does this have to do with ancient Sumer and rival goddess worship cults? The two parts of the book are apparently unconnected, except by Wendy's link to the goddess Belili, who she studies in college and has long felt connected to. Maybe Wendy is a reincarnation of Shula, the slave we meet in the beginning of the book. Maybe it's more than that. Maybe, it's something else entirely.

I won't tell you. The ending of this book blew me away.

Just read it, you'll enjoy it if you're a Wiccan, a historical fiction freak, or a person who loves suspense.

And the title will make sense once you finish the book. I promise.

Five stars easily.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on September 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
...a book held me this enthralled. No, actually, I can. It was Kushiel's Avatar, and it was more than a year ago. This is possibly the best work of fiction I've read this year so far; certainly it's the most unputdownable.

The novel contains two parallel storylines. One is about Shula, a slave in ancient Sumer, who has visions that lead her to the service of the goddess Inanna. However, even as Inanna makes greater and greater demands upon her, Shula loses her heart to a different goddess, Belili, Inanna's wilder rival. And in the modern day, a nerdy girl named Wendy grows up, has a vision of Belili herself, and begins to dream of a life better than her social-outcast existence. She searches for goddess religion and matriarchy and eventually becomes a scholar of ancient literature, but meanwhile the tension is building in her romantic relationship with her boyfriend Ray. A weird science-fiction twist brings the two storylines together, and I won't spoil anything else.

But this is a great story, filled with haunting myths and equally haunting depictions of life as a teenage misfit, beautiful scenes of love and friendship, thoughtful discourse about ancient matriarchies and whether they existed, lovely prose, and all sorts of other good stuff. My only issue with it is that the science fiction device seemed a bit far-fetched to me. This is a minor quibble--it's science fiction after all! Read it if you're into mythic fiction or time-travel storylines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox on August 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a unique book that weaves together the legends of ancient Sumer with the story of a modern young woman whose days as a school misfit aren't entirely behind her. Initially it feels like the reader is experiencing two distinct books; the first section follows the story of Shula, a slave in Sumer who worships the goddess Inanna although Shula is also experiencing a lot of strange miracles and is aware that there were goddesses before Inanna who appear to be taking an interest in Shula. Shula's life is hard, even when she follows Inanna's will, and lots of decisions that she makes seem to cause her life to go downhill. We leave Shula's story as she is being punished for breaking her vows as a temple virgin.

The second part of the story switches to the life of Wendy Chrenko as she lives through her schooldays as a misfit, teased by other schoolchildren because of her rather wacky nature. She eventually finds something of a soulmate in Ray Mackie but as their lives move on and Wendy spends more time researching the role of women in ancient Sumer whilst Ray gets involved in some rather dodgy employment they no longer see eye to eye. Wendy's life is a quest to discover a true matriarchal society in history but in this search she is also a misfit. Wendy eventually becomes involved in a virtual reality experiment to see if she can discover the truth of her belief that women and men initially lived together as equals.

Both parts of this book are interesting and make you want to keep reading. The third part of the book brings the threads together as we discover the ways in which Shula and Wendy are linked and as both women discover the truth of their searches. Ray also has a role in learning what is important to him and acknowledging the relationship between him and Wendy.
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