From the Backlist: Mem

Last week I had the opportunity to return to Montréal for a visit for the first time in six years. It’s such a beautiful and historic city, and exhibits a perfect blend of European and North American sensibilities. Being in Montréal this month reminded me of one of my favorite books set in the city, Mem, by Bethany C. Morrow, so I thought I’d bring it to the blog this month.

This is what can only be called a ‘high concept’ book. It is set in a reimagined jazz-age Montréal, where a new invention has allowed memories to be frozen in time as zombie-like creatures forever stuck in that one moment until they expire. Our main character is one-such memory, but she is an enigma to scientists, because she is capable of forming her own memories and living an independent, human, life.

Mem is an eerie and atmospheric novel, haunting in both its setting and in the bioethical questions it raises. It is therefore reminiscent of some of Kazuo Ishiguro’s best work, such as Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this book until the ending, whose revelations not only made the journey more than worthwhile, but also have stuck with me years later. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t remember the revelation that puts the pieces together.

Read this if you’re interested in:

  • Speculative Fiction
  • Alternate Histories
  • Memory
  • Bioethics
  • Montréal

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