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Memory Paperback – June 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765309009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309006
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,523,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the innovative Limit of Vision (2001) offers another challenging science fantasy. On an artificial world, the people, referred to as players, are reborn time after time, to rediscover their talents (if not their history) from past lives. Their needs are largely provided for by mechanical beetle-like kobolds, which appear out of wells. A silver fog that appears each night constantly reshapes the world. At age 10, Jubilee is devastated when her brother Jolly is taken by the silver, despite the usual protection by kobolds. He had oddly not shown any inherent talents, but in his last words claimed to have called the silver. Jubilee studies the silver assiduously in the ensuing years. The action picks up when she's 17. Her lover, Yaphet, is identified in a faraway town (like talents, mates repeat from former lives), a hauntingly familiar though menacing stranger appears out of the silver asking after Jolly as if Jolly were still alive, and the silver takes Jubilee's father. Jubilee joins her father's younger brother, Liam, on a quest for clues about players who survive the silver. What they learn and do affects the fate of their world. This poignant tale with the bones of hard science is bound to win Nagata new fans.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Young Jubilee lives with her parents and brother, Jolly, in a remote temple, where they are protected by beetlelike metabolic machines from the nocturnal floods of "silver." The stuff, though called "breath-of-creation," "fog of souls," and "mind of a dreaming goddess," seemingly kills animate creatures and haphazardly transforms the landscape, erasing roads and leaving bizarre architecture in its wake. One terrifying night, the silver takes Jolly, while Jubilee watches, horrified. Some years later, a mysterious stranger walks out of the silver, asking for Jolly, whom he seems to know. Can one survive the silver? Hoping to find her brother, Jubilee sets off on a dangerous quest, pursued by the man who can control silver. Her journey leads to her discovery of her civilization's stormy past and her own memories of past existences. Although the concept of the hazardous silver remains enigmatic, Nagata's book conjures up a richly realized world in which a truly eerie landscape serves as the vibrant background of a tale of self-discovery and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Linda Nagata is the author of multiple novels and short stories including The Bohr Maker, winner of the Locus Award for best first novel, and the novella "Goddesses," the first online publication to receive a Nebula award. Though best known for science fiction, she writes fantasy too, exemplified by her "scoundrel lit" series Stories of the Puzzle Lands. Her newest science fiction novel is The Red: First Light, published under her own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

Customer Reviews

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Absolutely recommended to fans of literary science fiction.
So I consider this one of Nagata's more subtle writing techniques that brings greatness to an already superb story.
True Builder
Just this week I read it again and I think it's really, really good.
Roy Sablosky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Economeister on March 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'll first tell you what made this a joy to read, then address some misgivings you might have after reading some other reviews.

"Memory" is a coming-of-age story about a young girl, Jubilee. It's told from Jubilee's point of view. Her journey is a Quest with nothing less than the entire world at stake. Nagata has written a fantasy with a science-fiction overlay, or you could look at it the other way around if you like. It's a successful hybrid. Nagata's writing is clear, lively, and descriptive without baroque metaphor weighing it down. The world-building is deftly handled, and implies a world of staggering scope, origin, and technology.

Some reviewers have lamented how much is left "unexplained" about the world Jubilee inhabits. The novel is written from her viewpoint, and we discover just as much as she does. It would have served Jubilee's story poorly to have it all spelled out: her choices would have been bereft of meaning if she'd known exactly what to do. The world is tens of thousands of years old, and much has been lost amid many cycles of destruction. There are mysteries throughout, but there's plenty from which to wonder and speculate. There are also layers of hints and clues throughout, such that it might benefit some to reread "Memory." You have to piece the world's history and true nature just as much as Jubilee does, but with the advantage of being a seasoned reader. There are two important clues about what the Bow of Heaven is; Jolly doesn't understand what he's saying, but he explicitly tells us the nature of the humans that inhabit the world of "Memory"; the silver should be no mystery by the end (and actually long before that). Nagata came perilously close to deus ex machina more than once conveying information to us, but she just managed to pull it off.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Roy Sablosky on January 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book when it first came out. It was good, but didn't make much of an impression. Just this week I read it again and I think it's really, really good.

The key to following the story might be this. Picture a story set in the far, far future, where people have godlike powers. Two people create a whole new planet and populate it with organisms. The organisms are very close to human; their bodies and personalities are initially patterned on the avatars of folks who are "playing" in this new "playground," but they are real biological (as opposed to mechanical) beings and they proceed to establish their own families, traditions, and civilization. Meanwhile, the "gods" who created this place have a furious argument, resulting in planet-wide ecological damage. Then they get bored and abandon their project!

BUT! -- "Memory" is not about these far-future "gods" -- it's about THEIR far future! -- the legacy of their creation as it plays out among the people living on their artificial-planet-project many tens of thousands of years later. For the people living there, the original genesis of their entire planet and its population have become mysterious ancient myths. Only IMPLICITLY is the book about "long-ago" era when the "gods" created their world and seeded it with life.

I hope this helps some of the readers who are having trouble. This is a beatifully written and truly thought-provoking book.

"Memory" is not as good as Nagata's earlier "Vast," which I would give five stars. For the uninitiated, however, "Vast" is even harder to follow than "Memory" -- MUCH harder, I would imagine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Prof50000 on March 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Absolutely brilliant. Stunningly-detailed descriptions of a beautiful but dangerous alien world, filled with all-too-human players trying to understand their roles in life and seeking to free their world from its tragic cyclical fate.

With its Buddhist-inspired themes and long historical memories, reminiscent of Asia, yet characters who are truly Western in their individualism and striving, it is a brilliant "fusion" that perhaps only a science fiction writer from Hawaii could create.

Absolutely recommended to fans of literary science fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rabbitdreamer on June 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
"Memory" was my first Linda Nagata book to read, and definitely one of my favourites. I found it in my local public library when I was desperately looking for a *decent* SF book to read. As it's been so long since I read it now, some of the details are a bit fuzzy, and I'm thinking of re-reading it at some time (an unusual event for me with books).

The story is pretty simple, Very interestingly, it feels, a lot of the time, like a standard fantasy story - at a couple of points it reminded me of The Lord of the Rings. The reason for this, I think, is that the characters and their world have no connection with our comtemporary world, and there is a strong theme of a quest through fantastic landscapes. Furthermore, the characters are all extremely likeable. This was very refreshing to me. The book feels - how can I say it - "innocent" with none of the cynicsm that permeates so much of contemporary writing.

However, Memory is much more than that. The fictional world is brilliantly and intricately devised, and rather than being a true fantasy, it is a world in which, we assume, the "magic" is truly a super-advanced technology (the origins of which are unknown) which, as Arthur C. Clarke would say, is "indistinguishable from magic". The novel is an ingenious look at a world that has (we assume) been designed by an unknown, ancient people where the inhabitants' needs are provided for them by mysterious technology they do not understand and, after countless generations, have forgotten the origin of. In this world people have no industry, or normal means of creating infrastructure, yet enjoy advanced technology in a medieval-style culture (even to the point of having their own version of the Internet) through the use of the ancient technology.
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