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Unforgettable Paperback – January 5, 2016
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"Stone's debut is a neat little high-tech thriller..." - Publishers Weekly
"'Unforgettable' is set in the near future, and it's a dizzying and unrelenting adventure..." - Deseret News
"[A] wonderful adventure built around a clever, original idea." - Orson Scott Card, Rhino Times
"In addition to telling a great adventure tale, Stone explores what it means to belong to a community, the nature of free will and the importance of autonomy." - The Daily News (Galveston, Texas)
About the Author
A Nebula Award winner and Hugo Award nominee, Eric James Stone has had over fifty stories published in venues such as Year's Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show. He lives in Utah with his wife Darci, a high school physics teacher.
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Top customer reviews
Nat, the hero of "Unforgettable" doesn't have that problem - ever. However, he has many others! Blessed/cursed with a peculiar condition, he has lived his entire life "forgotten", in a literal sense. Anyone he interacts with, forgets him within sixty seconds of being out of contact with him; "out of sight"
becomes "out of mind". The talent and burden extends even to electronics; his transactions vanish, his images fade - he is invisible to memory.
It's a very interesting conceit. It could have driven an angst-filled narrative, wallowing in misery, or it could have been wasted (as so many clever ideas are) as a device in a poorly-told story with two-dimensional characters, a book as forgettable in real life as the fictional protagonist within its pages. Happily, though, that's not what Stone gives us. Instead, we get well-drawn characters we come to care about, tackling the typical problems of a superspy-style action-adventure, in thoroughly clever and entertaining ways.
Nat's hand-to-hand instructor observed that he had "no killer instinct". That's an understatement. Fleeing from goons, he uses a water spill to make the floor slippery - and calls out, in time for them to react, "Watch out! Don't fall!" He doesn't want to hurt anyone, he explains. It isn't fanatical pacifism, though; Nat's just a genuinely nice guy. (Is there some subtle commentary there, about how the world's non-jerks might be the least-remembered? Could be, perhaps.) He's come to terms with his maddening talent and is able to distract himself from his inability to have a normal life, through his work, until he encounters the beautiful enemy agent who...remembers him...
This was really a wonderful light read. It's not a grim-and-gritty take on a dark underworld of espionage and mayhem - Nat's CIA is a bit more like UNCLE than the real-world agency is, and nobody in his world, despite traumatic experiences, seems to be a burnout or PTSD case; it's not that kind of book. But if you care to ponder quantum physics and its paradoxes, they're here for you; if you want to ponder philosophical issues, they're in there too. I wanted a fun, action-adventure light science fiction read, which didn't bog down in speculation or technical details, inject heavy-handed Leftist social commentary, or trend towards porn.
Sometimes you gotta have a literary dessert. And for a dessert, this one was not just tasty, but downright nutricious.
Nat is a bit of a 'boy scout' as mentioned in other comments, but honestly it doesn't detract from the tale. I found the epilogue to be a bit simplistic and really wish it would have been fleshed out in the next story rather than rushed through to 'tidy up' like it did, but at least there is something to look forward to on the next book.
Stone's writing is easy going, fast paced, and does a good job explaining some of the quantum mechanics involved without getting stuck in the details. I'm a slow reader but finished this in a busy weekend, so the entertainment was worth the price of admission.
Unforgettable retains Stone's clever touch, though at novel length. Nat Morgan is an scientific anomaly, a man who cannot be remembered by anyone. As soon as he is out of sight, he is, within a minute, lost from memory. Even electronic records fail to retain memory of him. He is a fluke of quantum mechanics, leaving almost no trace behind. Only things written out about him are retained, and it is this one form of record that allows Morgan to find himself one of the few honest jobs that might be available to him--as a spy.
When a simple mission to steal a piece of technology goes wrong, Morgan finds himself bound to a beautiful Russian thief. Strangely, and for the first time for him, she doesn't forget him as others do. Together they will take on a dangerous villain with a quantum chip that dominate the world and end humanities ability to choose.
It's an intriguing set of concepts that Stone has combined. Written like a thriller, Unforgettable is every bit a slice of science fiction that takes place the day after tomorrow, but with all the page turning capacity of a spy novel. And yet, in a turn from many spy/thriller genre tropes, Morgan's story takes on questions that transcend superficial spy versus spy games. It's enjoyable, fun, and satisfying.
And yet, Stone dodges questions about Morgan's life that merit deeper inspection and treatment. From birth, Nat Morgan is completely forgettable, and it is only through sheer will that his mother stays with him as long as she does, while a father who cannot recall where baby Nat has come from leaves Nat and his mother confused. Perhaps this is the wrong book--or the wrong genre--to address the myriad of issues that a man who cannot be remembered would face: he cannot be loved or even known, cannot develop relationships, know responsibility or duty...who will he become? How will he be socialized when society does not know or recognize him? And how does he respond--having no experience with any relationships of any kind--when someone, a woman, suddenly recognizes and remembers him?
Again, perhaps this is the wrong genre. Stone has set up the novel like a thriller, and pacing requires a certain amount of action and movement. But still, it's hard to read even an enjoyable and fun book like this and not wonder how this man must be different from every other man, let alone how he is sane.
Stone's Unforgettable comes to a close addressing other interesting questions, especially about agency and freedom and security, and it is how Stone ties these questions into his fast paced and well-plotted tale that makes Unforgettable, well...unforgettable. I look forward to reading the sequels and following Nat Morgan's further adventures. There's more to this story to tell, and Stone has shown that he has the capacity to spin a story that will keep readers glued.
The book is fast paced with only a little exposition and is a quick read. The plot is straightforward with no real surprises and the secondary characters aren’t particularly well developed, they are mostly just foils for the protagonist. There are some fun discussions of quantum mechanics as a scientist tries to understand Nat’s condition and a bit of romance as well. Overall, despite some plot weaknesses, the novel is a ton of fun to read and I highly recommend it for science fiction adventure fans.
Most recent customer reviews
Nat can't be loved but is trying his best.