The Man Who Remembered The Moon (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition
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I do not read a lot of sci-fi or "The Twilight Zone"-type stories, and perhaps I am doing "The Man Who Remembered the Moon" a disservice by invoking that genre. There might be more to the story than I caught. It might, for instance, be an elaborate allegory. For me, it was an entertaining story, with some good lines, striking images, and welcome humor. Although outside my usual realm of reading, the tale was well worth the hour or so required to read it.
What I have (courtesy of the author) is the paperback book. It contains a second story, thirteen pages in length, titled "The One about the Ballard Fanatic". It was similar in tone and effect, and it too ended with an uncanny twist. The "Ballard" of the title refers to J.G. Ballard, and no aficionado of J.G. Ballard should miss it.
By the way, the paperback edition is a handsome one. Kudos to Dumagrad Books. I will be on the lookout for future offerings from both the publishing house and the author.
David Hale is an intelligent man who works in a job beneath his talents in a call center. One night, he is out on his terrace and realizes the moon is no longer there. He doesn't know what is going on. He talks to many people and none of them remember that a moon ever existed. He soon finds himself in a mental institution being treated by Dr. Marvin Pallister for his delusion.
David is really a brilliant man. He comes up with his own elaborate theories as to why he is the only person on earth able to remember the moon. He then goes about trying to prove his theories, but, while doing so, finds that every reference to the moon he remembers from history or from literature is also gone. He doesn't understand how that could be. Is he really crazy? Is he really delusional?
At the same time he is undergoing therapy with Dr. Pallister. Dr. Pallister is not a very sympathetic character as he often laughs at David's theories and goes about proving to David that everything he is saying can be proven to be wrong. David is a sympathetic character. You feel for what he is going through and you want to know the resolution to his story.
I was taken off-guard when that resolution is disclosed. I didn't believe it. I had to read the last several pages three times before I came to my own conclusion about the truth. I don't know if I'm right. I don't think anyone reading the book can ever know if he/she is right, but it doesn't matter because the story is written so well there are no holes in it to prove you are right or wrong.
I highly recommend this short story. I mean it when I say it is brilliant. The ending I believe seems to make sense when you read through the story again, this time with the knowledge of the ending. I'm glad I have this book because I know I will be reading it many times in the future.
Now, you are probably already thinking - what about moon references in literature? What about the word "lunar"? What about the tides? Wouldn't it be a lot darker at night? The author is ahead of you.
It is not just the absence of the moon that renders the world that Hull describes in this novella unfamiliar. That is often true with Kafka and Rod Serling, too - the worlds in which their possibly delusional protagonists are situated are not quite right anyway.
Two peculiarities in the world of Hull's story stood out to me. One, the delusion sufferer is institutionalized over it, and for a long time. We must admit, this could not be our contemporary world. Delusions sometimes used to get you locked up; no longer. We shut down the asylums and made the world the asylum. It saves money, anyway.
Two, strongly related to one, the man who remembers the moon insists on trying to bring everyone around, instead of letting the point be. I suppose that would make him more of an institutional candidate. Think about this. Couldn't you make honest statements that would have others looking askance at your good sense, even possibly your sanity? I know I could; I assume that most people could. We just learn to keep quiet about it, or at the very least to pick our audiences carefully.
Hull's protagonist has no self-preservational filter; by golly, everyone must be made to understand that there was a moon. Which is more problematic, falling prey to a (possible) delusion, or demanding that the world agrees with your perception of it? The latter is certainly more dangerous.
Naturally, I do not want to say how this all plays out in the story, which I recommend to your attention. It is a quick read, and a rewarding one. Hull has a full-length novel announced for a year from now, and I will definitely be reading that book when it appears. It will be interesting to see if it extends the cool, thoughtful tone of The Man Who Remembered the Moon, or goes in a different stylistic direction altogether.