Thursday, January 27, 2011

Futures in the Memories Market

Short Story by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Text and Audio from Clarkesworld, read by Kate Baker

Itzal is a bodyguard for Geeta, a woman with an exceptional talent for memory and sense perception. Her memories are taken from her by a company that has effectively owned her from childhood, and sold to the public. Everyone but Geeta is allowed to share her memories, but aboard the ship they are strictly regulated, to keep them away from her. The only things she can remember are the boring spots between worlds; only things too boring to sell.

Itzal and Geeta hatch a plan to buy her one of her own memories on the black market, disguised enough to fool her corporate masters. On first reading, this seems like a poetically written futuristic slice-of-life, but when you consider the revelation at the very end, it is definitely worth a second read/listen.

Geeta is exceptionally innocent and happy, which reflects on the tone and poetic imagery. Making the true betrayal and loss and other anger/sadness inducing themes all the more striking for being told through such a happy, uneventful story. The fantastical emp we see a bit of at the end is just so lovely and joyous, it clashes wonderfully with the exceptionally dark surprise (but well foreshadowed) ending. Nearly everything in the story deserves more thought than it initially gets, and a second reading is nearly mandatory. But for all that, it is still a touch boring.

3.5 surprisingly cuddly talking horse-people out of 5.

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