Memorare, by Gene Wolfe

Say what you will about this story, you can’t deny it’s an original plot. The viewpoint character is a documentary filmmaker named March, although he goes by the nickname “Windy”, who hops around the asteroid belt recording memorials contained within individual asteroids, set up either by the person being remembered or their relatives or followers. Depending on the budget and the intent, they range from modest crypts to elaborate robots and simulations, and some of them are even death traps, since apparently some of the dead want to leave a lasting impression. Along the way he recruits an old flame, Kit, to help with the narration. She brings along
a woman she’s befriended who turns out to be March’s ex, Robin, and she in turn is being pursued by her new husband, Redd, as they’ve had a falling out and he wants her back.

Everything comes to a head on one of those dangerous memorials known just as “Number Nineteen”, where the characters, or at least March anyway, confront some past demons and gain some new perspective, and not everyone makes it out. There’s a lot of disagreement between the characters over things that happened in their past, where everyone has his or her own recollection of events and doesn’t see it the other person’s way, thereby making individual memory an unreliable or at least inherently personal thing. Also, everyone has their own idea of “paradise” and of their own place in the world, and these memorials help to highlight the contrast between how a person wants to be remembered versus how they really will be remembered. I think that’s the point, anyway, Wolfe isn’t one to telegraph his message, and I can’t say that in the end there’s anything profound to be taken away from this story, but on its own terms he creates an interesting group of characters with a lot of baggage and depth, and certainly gives them a novel setting, so its definitely worth a look.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *