Linda Nagata wrote some well-received short stories in the late 1980s, but she really caught the field’s attention with her Nanotech Succession series, which first appeared in 1995. In 2000, her novella “Goddesses” became the first story published online to win a Nebula award. Thirteen years later, her novel The Red: First Light became the first self-published novel to be nominated for the Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
Here she gives us insight into the process she used in writing her novel, Memory.
by Linda Nagata
I’m not a gamer, but both my daughter and son are, and over the years I’ve learned a lot about gaming through them—and I found myself intrigued by the idea of multiple lives.
What would it be like to live in a world where everyone knew they had lived before, and that they would live again?
In many games you play as a specific character, and if that character gets killed, you can “re-spawn” back into the game as the same character, though you’ll lose something in the process—points maybe, or status—but your character lives again, enjoying a succession of lives.
I started to wonder: What if that could really happen? What would it be like to live in a world where everyone knew they had lived before, and that they would live again? That is the premise behind my novel Memory…except that in this story world, instead of re-spawning, people—or players, as they call themselves—are born as infants, and what they lose is the memory of their past lives. But they still carry forward with them two things: the skills they’ve learned which they easily reacquire growing up, and a desire for the one person, the lover who was their partner, when the game began millennia ago. Finding that person in a vast, artificial world that is growing ever more dangerous and surreal is the challenge of the game.
But of course it’s more complicated than that, and the players don’t see their lives as a game—though they’re aware the rules of their world are changing.
Memory is a high-tech “hard” science fiction adventure that “feels like fantasy.” It’s told in the voice of seventeen-year-old Jubilee Huacho, who is confronted with a different challenge than that faced by most players, when she must unravel the mystery of her brother’s disappearance. Her quest will take her through a landscape that is continuously changing as the vastly powerful technologies used in the world’s creation run out of control.
Memory was originally published by Tor, and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial award. I was pleased to re-publish it under my own imprint, with a beautiful new cover created by graphic artist Emily Irwin, who first read the novel when she was a high school classmate of my daughter and son.
I hope you enjoy Memory.
To find out more about Linda, go to her website. If you want to try her work, she has a novel in the Storybundle that runs until the end of August. If you’re reading this after August, you can buy the novel and all her other works from your favorite retailer.