Bethany C. Mor­row, Un­named Press (MAY), Hard­cover $25 (192pp), 978-1-944700-55-3

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight / Fantasy -

“In­side the Vault, ev­ery­thing was an ex­per­i­ment,” and Dolores Ex­tract No. 1 has been told to re­turn there no later than Au­gust 30, 1925. Told in Dolores Ex­tract No. 1’s own voice, Bethany C. Mor­row’s MEM is set in an early twen­ti­eth cen­tury where the wealthy sep­a­rate them­selves from their mem­o­ries. These mem­o­ries are prop­erty to flaunt, vault, or re­mold—but Dolores Ex­tract No. 1 isn’t a mem­ory like most. Her fate will be no dif­fer­ent, how­ever, un­less she can prove—to the courts, her source, and her­self—that she’s “real.”

When Canadian pro­fes­sor Dr. Toutant dis­cov­ers how to re­move mem­o­ries and con­tain them in iden­ti­cal hu­manoid ves­sels called Mems, the rich flock to Mon­treal for ex­trac­tions. But so­ci­ety debu­tante Dolores’s first Mem ex­hibits unique traits. In­stead of be­ing trapped in her spawn­ing mem­ory, this Mem’s aware­ness grows and ex­pands, while other Mems ex­pire once the emo­tion of their spawn­ing mem­o­ries plays out. For this sin­gu­lar Mem, eigh­teen years have passed, and she’s still try­ing to fig­ure out what makes her dif­fer­ent be­fore it’s too late.

In MEM, tech­nol­ogy doesn’t hold cen­ter stage; Mor­row touches on sci­ence in or­der to fur­ther ex­plore hu­man­ity. Mem­ory ex­trac­tion sci­ence bor­rows the lan­guage of bank­ing, which only em­pha­sizes the is­sues of class and priv­i­lege at play. Money grants the rich the abil­ity to decide which parts of them­selves they own or dis­own—quite lit­er­ally. Within this slim novel, such choices cen­ter the es­cha­to­log­i­cal and eth­i­cal ques­tions un­der­pin­ning the sci­ence of the mind.

Mor­row delivers a new clas­sic in her ex­plo­ration of iden­tity, mem­ory, and hu­man prop­erty, prov­ing that, like ex­pe­ri­ence it­self, mem­ory is slip­pery, un­pre­dictable, and rarely what it seems. For those rich enough to cap­i­tal­ize on it, this new sci­ence yields un­ex­pected re­sults, but none is more un­in­tended than Dolores Ex­tract No. 1 her­self.

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