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The Memory of Fire (Bantam Spectra Book) Paperback – February 1, 2000

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379303
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,784,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Foy's latest novel expands the gritty, high-tech near-future setting of his Contraband (1997). Soledad MacCrae is a young Mexican musician and composer on the run following the brutal destruction of her cruce, or node, of Bamaca, an anarchic community of artists, writers and musicians who chose to live outside the mainstream in their own small enclave and to dedicate their lives to creative pursuits, funded with money earned by smuggling drugs. Escaping north to San Francisco, Soledad searches for another node she's heard about in Oakland, but she quickly discovers that her past isn't so easy to leave behind. It looks as if the same megaorg corporate security forces who annihilated Bamaca may have trailed her here. Even more chilling, her arrival at the Oakland node seems to herald increased threats against the node from the local authorities, assisted by BON, the federal Bureau of Nationalizations. Danger escalates as Soledad discovers she is pregnant with the child of her Bamaca lover and lyricist, poet Jorge Echeverria, who died during the attack on that node. Now Soledad must come to terms with her past as well as her present, accepting the influence Echeverria had over her, even as she discovers that the music they created may hold the key to saving her new home. Foy sets this story of memory and love in a finely detailed setting resonant with the Borges-style recursion that life is "a story we tell ourselves about who we wish we were. And because we are the story we tell ourselves, we in turn become the story, the story itself." (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In a world controled by bureaucratic governments that suppress free expression and creativity, musicians and poets gather in armed enclaves to protect their artistic visions. Fleeing the destruction of her sanctuary on the coast of South America, musician Soledad MacCrae journeys to San Francisco in search of a new refuge, unaware that she carries within her the knowledge of how to win--or lose--the battle for nonconformity. Foy (The Shift) brings to life a dark, dystopic future in this story of one artist's struggle to remain true to her principles. Thoughtful and disturbing, this grim portrait of an all-too-possible future belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like its forerunners, MOF turns on the notion of subversion. Unlike its forerunners, it forgoes a certain page-turning heat in favor of cooler, deeper analysis. This may put off some readers; it didn't put me off. Can you conquer social or political demons without conquering your own? I don't know, but I love this author for tackling the question.
Foy writes with sensuality & immediacy; MOF has the same scary sense of place as his previous novels. He has an unsettling talent of creating scenes you can't forget even when you try to.
This is a super-ambitious novel. For one thing, a male author is trying to create a credible female protagonist. For another, it's in part about music, and "writing about music is like dancing about architecture," as somebody once said. These are high hurdles, but in my opinion, Foy clears them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nous on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an ambitious work. In it the flash and edge of cyberpunk collides with a Latin American culture out of step with the fevered pace of technology. The protagonist, Soledad, is an outsider to both worlds who finds herself slowly drawn into the heart of each in turn. In doing so, Foy combines the dystopic vision of Gibson's later works with a more post-colonial worldview. Witty,intelligent, and dreamy with more political and economic heart than standard escapist SF fare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James R. Harrington on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I gave this book five stars because it is the only book I have read in the last ten years that I would consider reading again immediately after finishing it. Its plot is not strong, as other reviewers have remarked, but I imagine the author would not claim that this book is written for those who demand a lively plot. The book is set in the future, and there are some interesting futuristic scenes as well as a framework for the story line based on conjectures about the consequences of corporations that extend past national boundaries, abuse of the media to form public opinion, and excessive influence of corporations on official policy. The real power of this book, though, is its ability to put you in this future world and acquaint you with the intimate thoughts of someone who lives there.
One of the professional reviewers pans the writing, but I put the quality of the writing at the top end of the spectrum. The writing is strongly evocative. It provides a strong mood for the book, and a very unusual solidity of surroundings. In a way I have rarely, if ever, before experienced in a futuristic novel, I finished the book thinking that I would not be at all surprised to be able to buy an airline ticket to Bamaca, and disembark to see exactly what the book described. And though the San Francisco of The Memory of Fire does not exist, if one is willing to suspend one's knowledge of the facts, the book gives its city the same feeling of reality we experience when we think of the real San Francisco.
As another reviewer remarked, the protagonist, Solidad MacRae, is not someone we would be likely to meet on the street. On the other hand, she comes across as a very real person. Many SF books give characterization short shrift. Most of the best put believable people into the plot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Allan Engelhardt on July 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you, like one of the reviewers here on, thought that Foy's previous book, "Contraband", was similar in style to James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", then this is "Ulysses".
Nothing much actually happens in this book, it is mostly a stream of thoughts by the main character Soledad MacRae. The setting picks up on the idea in the quote to chapter 21 in "Contraband". In this quote, BON talks about Hawkley-ites establishing communities called "nodes" that behave like sovereign states and trade freely.
"The Memory of Fire" starts with the destruction of Soledad's node and continues in two main streams. One stream is her memory of the events that led up to the destruction of the node, from her moving from the "normal" city to the node, falling - perhaps - in love, and discovering herself as a woman. The other stream talks about her flight to the American node, the fight for its survival, and Soledad's further self-disovery.
It is a difficult read - much more so than Foy's previous books - but it pays off reasonably well for the patient reader. If you liked the previous works then be aware that this story is quite different: much more thought stream and much less "cyperpunk". And almost no Hawkley quotes! Depending on your tastes, this may be a better or worse starting point. "Contraband" is certainly an easier read. If you don't enjoy the "cyber" elements then you might prefer this volume.
A good effort by George Foy.
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