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A companion novel to the Inverted Frontier

On an artificial world with a forgotten past, floods of “silver” rise in the night like fog, rewriting the landscape and consuming those caught in its cold mists. Seventeen-year-old Jubilee knows that no one ever returns from the silver—but then a forbidding stranger appears, asking after her beloved brother, Jolly, who was lost long ago to a silver flood.

Could Jolly still be alive? And why does the silver rise ever higher, threatening to drown the world? Jubilee is driven to find out.

Leaving the safety of home, she sets off into an eerie wilderness sculpted by capricious tides of silver. In her quest for truth, she will unlock the memory of her own past, and of a history that reaches back farther than she could ever have imagined.

A finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

396 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Linda Nagata

96 books595 followers
I'm a writer from Hawaii best known for my high-tech science fiction, including the near-future thriller, The Last Good Man , and the far-future adventure series, INVERTED FRONTIER.

Though I don't review books on Goodreads, I do talk about some of my favorite books on my blog and those posts are echoed here. So I invite you to follow me for news of books and many other things. You can also visit my website to learn more about my work, and to sign up for my newsletter.

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5 stars
139 (28%)
4 stars
183 (37%)
3 stars
129 (26%)
2 stars
29 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 81 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
733 reviews73 followers
November 30, 2016
This book had such a complex world that I was not only fascinated but I never really knew what was coming.

But if a child should ask, What is the silver?the answer might take many forms:

"It is a fog of glowing particles that arises at night to rebuild the world."
"It is the memory of the world."
"It is the dreaming mind of the wounded goddess and you must never go near her!"

The silver in this book is entirely different from what we would call silver. Silver rises at night to varying levels and it destroys everything in its path. Sometimes when the tide of silver draws back, it leaves behind things called "follies". I was never clear on if these were random objects that were created or if they were memories of things that had existed in the past, although I favor the latter definition. These follies leave everything vulnerable to random rearranging. Actually, I'm not sure how people ever traveled because they would have random roads that led to nowhere and you never knew for sure if the road you were used to following would still be there, or be unblocked.

Somewhere along the way these things called "kobolds" were invented to help keep the silver back. These are small insect-like mechanics and they came in an incredible variety of styles.

And all of that is the easiest stuff to explain. There is so much about this book that you discover along the way and I'm so afraid of revealing anything that might be a spoiler. Your knowledge of the world gets layered on as you go until it resembles phyllo dough because there's so much that you learn.

Jubilee's character seemed young to me throughout the book. She was 10 at the start so this made sense, but later on it really did seem a bit odd that she didn't have the feel of an adult. This was the only false note to me, though. For the most part it was completely fascinating and I was glued to the pages.
Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
377 reviews385 followers
November 19, 2018
I love Linda Nagata's books and this one was no different. Mind-blowing ideas and incredible SF world-building. One of the best female writers in the genre hands down.
Profile Image for Rachel Brown.
Author 20 books159 followers
July 27, 2012
Jubilee lives in a strikingly bizarre world, in which silver mist arises from the earth to kill living beings, remake non-living matter, and bring random buildings and even entire empty cities back from the past. Because the “silver” tends to destroy written records, the people are very vague and confused about their history, though they have a high degree of poorly-understood technology. They also have some extremely odd customs regarding sex and love – people can only marry (or, apparently, have sex with) their one true mate, as determined by genetic testing - which turn out to be based on even odder biology.

When Jubilee is a little girl, her brother Jolly claims to have called the silver –right before he vanishes into it forever. Years later, a man walks out of the silver, which no one should be able to survive, and asks her where her brother is, before walking back into it. Jubilee begins to investigate the possibility that Jolly could still be alive, and that some people can survive the silver.

The first third of the novel, which appears to be hard sf set in a world whose inhabitants think they’re living in high fantasy, is a fascinating farrago of strangeness and mystery, with such intriguing worldbuilding that I wasn’t bothered by the thin characterization. The rest of the book, which sends Jubilee on a roundabout quest and introduces an irritatingly powerful and insufficiently motivated supervillain, doesn’t live up to the promise of the earliest sections.

I had hoped that all the weirdness would come together in a coherent explanation of the secretly sfnal origins of the world, and that “it’s all virtual reality” would not be the explanation. There is an explanation, but one which only covers a small portion of all the peculiarities.

Profile Image for Micah Sisk.
Author 5 books57 followers
January 15, 2016
This was the first book I've read by Linda Nagata (purchased in a book bundle) and it's very impressive. It's a real sleeper, a book that deserves far more attention and awareness than it has/gets.

Memory is a top notch effort of creative world design. Original and logically consistent, it successfully merges fantastical ideas with just enough science to make the fantasy-like elements seem rooted in the real world--without any technological geek-outs to bore those disinterested in hard science.

The level of world building here is very reminiscent of books like On and Stone by Adam Roberts. The world's structure could be explained in fantasy terms (magic), but the deeper you get into the story the more it becomes apparent that there is high tech at work. And even while the characters are themselves attempting to solve the riddle of how their world works, Nagata wisely never takes us the full way to an explanation. This world is an enigma, the narration from the characters' points of view, so we are no more in the know than are they. And even though the plot comes to a definite resolution, the riddle of the world's true nature remains a mystery to the characters and reader.

The characters themselves are written quite well, the action is well paced, and the plot is fascinating. All in all an excellent read.

My biggest complaints about it are...the title and (eBook) book cover! Both of which are uninspiring. Had I not purchased the book along with a dozen other books, I never would have paid any attention to it. The story deserves a better, more **ahem** memorable title and cover. Really worth reading!
Profile Image for Bryan Alexander.
Author 4 books292 followers
March 19, 2017
I've long thought Linda Nagata a hidden gem in modern sf. Her first novels delighted me, especially the inventive Vast.

Memory is a fine example of Nagata's skills. It offers rich and surprising world-building along with empathetic and fiercely challenged characters. It's accessible yet never easy, and ultimately moving and memorable.

The plot - well, without spoilers, I can say that it involves a quest to understand a peculiar world. Our heroine is born on a ringworld of sorts, where a terrifying silver cloud remakes the landscape and easily kills people. People are all reincarnated, learning skills and memories from their past lives as children.

This hits us with a sneaky opening paragraph, where the narrator describes her favorite blanket from when she was a kid, and how it had nice stars on it echoing some stars in the sky. And then the third sentence of the novel:
For if there was no Heaven, I reasoned, then the dead would always be reborn in this world and not the next, no matter how wise they became in life.
We're wrong-footed right away, while caught up in a child's mind. Powerful opening move, and Nagata never wavers from that zone of strangeness and intimacy. Swiftly she suffers a terrible loss, then another, and grows into her - ah, I'll stop there. Part of the pleasure of Memory is exploring its world.

I can add that it plays with the border between science fiction and fantasy, engineering and spells, legends and virtual worlds, deities and archivists. Relationships arise and twist. And there's a fun shout-out to a classic hard sf novel that inspired this one (223).

Now for spoilers.

Well, I welcome comments of fellow readers, and commend Memory.
Profile Image for Emily Kestrel.
1,110 reviews64 followers
April 3, 2020
It seemed to take me forever to finish reading this book. I don't know why, exactly, as the story was pretty interesting. Maybe I'm just distracted due to all the world events or maybe it was the writing style.

But, on the plus side:
* Interesting and original world building
* There was a dog!

On the minus side:
* I didn't really connect to any of the characters besides the dog
* Dry writing style
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,685 reviews347 followers
August 1, 2017
OK, the world-building is pretty cool. The setting is a ringworld-orbital where things have gone Terribly Wrong. A long-ago war damaged the habitat, and the construction and maintenance nanoassembler-fogs (the silver), have become a menace to the players, their 'mechanics' (cool hi-tech machines) and their homes. The only safe places to live are temple-complexes around kobold wells -- the temple kobolds, small programmable mechanics, exude a sweet-smelling silver-repellent.

It's a pretty neat setup, an appealing combination of a half-understood high-tech background, a likeable heroine, a nasty villain, and a Quest... So I was having a good time until along about page 200 or so, I started realising that nothing much had happened for awhile, except that the Evil Villain (and/or his minions) was chasing the heroine (and/or her Faithful Friends, and always with her Cute Doggie) through varying landscapes, over and over again. I'm sorry to report that this is pretty much what happens in the rest of the book. The ending's pretty soggy, too.

For Nagata fans only. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Justin Howe.
Author 17 books35 followers
August 1, 2013
You know I'll probably bump this down to 4-stars after the rush of reading it fades, but until then holy crap was this a great book!

Young Jubilee lives in a world where floods of "silver" (malfunctioning nanotech) reshape the world every night. Stability can only be found on hill top settlements. When a silver flood claims her brother, she assumes he is lost forever, but then, seven years later, a stranger arrives searching for him.

If you like your SF to take you to strange and weird worlds, then Memory is the book for you.
Profile Image for bouncy .
30 reviews
September 26, 2023
**So this review technically contains spoilers, which I don't feel like are very spoiler-y, but read at your own risk**

I picked up Memory not knowing it's part of a larger series (Inverted Frontier), therefore I'll base my opinion on this book alone

The setting of this book is unique, it wavers between being sci-fi and fantasy and does a good job of being both. It has the adventurous outdoorsy nature of fantasy and of "going on a journey", along with the intrigue of forgotten history and magic, along. It also has technology, and logic, and a science to it all. In my opinion, the world this story is set in is the strongest part of the book, and Linda Nagata does an amazing job with descriptions. Even the architecture in this book is interesting, and very fitting to the nature of the Silver that controls this world.

And that's the part I wished the book explored and immersed itself in more, the world, and what the silver brings and takes. The concept of the "memory" in this book was also a very interesting part of the world building. It struck me again and again, how Nagata greatly captured a world where all these things, the memory, the silver, the temples, the matchmaker, are really all norms the players have grown up with, givens that automatically make sense to them. I like how these elements influence their personalities and decisions.

And here we come to the part that makes this a 3 star rating. The actual story, which has great pacing, great characters, but really leads to a rather trope-y ending. I wanted adventure and emotion and self-discovery, but I felt like the characters never really grew, and that we never got to know them that well. I felt like the whole thing with the god and goddess was my least favourite reality out of the three possibilities we are introduced to in the beginning. It took power away from silver being this mindless, all encompassing force. It took intrigue away from the structures unveiled by silver and their history. It revealed the mystery behind the technology in an unexciting manner.

Still, I really enjoyed this book and all the fresh concepts it had. I'll be reading the rest of the Inverted Frontier series (which I hope also take place in this world) with great intrest!
Profile Image for Clyde.
817 reviews54 followers
October 16, 2019
This is basically a quest story. But the nature of the quest morphs as the story moves along. At first young Jubilee sets out to recover a lost brother. However, as she learns more about the 'Silver', she finds that she, her brother, her 'lover', and a few other 'players' have a seemingly impossible task. They in fact must try to save their world. It is a tough road for a 17 year old.
The world of Memory seems infused with magic. However, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that it is 'magic' in the vein of Clark's third law and that the world Jubilee inhabits is in fact artificial.
This story is set in the same universe as Nagata's Nanotech Succession series but is unrelated to those stories. (According to her blog, it looks as if the story lines may come together in her next book which is now in progress.)
Good book with an interesting and slightly surrealistic feel.
Profile Image for Mathew Walls.
398 reviews14 followers
December 30, 2015
When I was a teenager I'd read whatever sci-fi or fantasy I could find at the library, so long as it wasn't the middle of a series they only had part of, so I've read plenty of books where every other noun is a made-up word or a normal word used to mean something totally different to its real definition, but I just don't have the patience for that kind of bullshit any more. This book isn't the worst example of that, but if I get to the end of the first chapter and don't understand the basics of the setting, I'm not reading any more.

I think the idea here is that the setting is some sort of technologically advanced civilisation regressed to a primitive state, so there's nano-machines and a sort of grey goo scenario but everyone thinks it's magic. That's fine, but it's written in such an abstruse way that it's a chore to read.
Profile Image for Sarah.
106 reviews14 followers
August 11, 2011
The only thing keeping me from choosing 4 instead of a 3 was the ending--too abrupt, even with a short epilogue. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

The concept of the silver is what intrigued me to pick this up used at a March of Dimes fundraiser and I was happily surprised by how quickly it sucked me in.

The world Jubilee lives in is inhabited by human-like "players" who share their ring-shaped world with a strange substance called "silver" which some believe to be the leftover remnants of the creation of the world by their goddess. This silver transforms what it touches and any creatures, player or animal, are taken by the silver, never to return. It rises in the night and in places hidden from the sun, and the only refuges are temples where special wells produce the kobolds that exude a special scent that keeps the silver at bay. Anyone traveling outside the safety of the temples is at risk when night arrives, as even being on high ground is not a guarantee of sufficient protection once the silver rises from the ground to fill the low-lying areas.

The silver is both a destructive and a creative force, as while it takes the animals or people it touches, when it touches other things it can leave behind something wondrous in its wake, like precious minerals or beautiful "follies". The silver is the saviour and bane of Jubilee's world--without it, they would perish as the silver is what provides the sustenance for the kobolds, tiny nano-esque creatures which produce practically everything her civilization needs. But the silver rises in cycles, and in Jubilee's time, the silver is threatening to flood the world and end all life.

When Jubilee is young, her brother Jolly is taken by the silver. A mysterious stranger with the apparent ability to survive the silver visits her home several years after Jolly is taken and this sets off a chain of events where Jubilee must journey far from home and withstand truths that shatter her worldview in order to save her plant and the players on it.

The world is fleshed out very simply, but the story doesn't require more than what Linda Nagata gives us. You immediately begin to see clues of this world's origin (Jubilee calls her people "players" rather than people/person/humans, your first clue). I was drawn in by the mysteries of Jubilee's world and eagerly kept reading so I could discover along with Jubilee and her friends exactly what was going on.

The author paints a vivid portrait of the world that I could see clearly in my mind's eye. A few things learned were a bit abrupt, but as this is first person from Jubilee's perspective, you are learning things just as she does and perhaps that was intentional.

It's billed as a coming of age story, and it is, but that's not all it is. My only disappointment was the ending--I felt it was a bit too abrupt and left you with unanswered questions. Otherwise, a very enjoyable and quick read.
Profile Image for Kenya Starflight.
1,254 reviews15 followers
June 11, 2019
Seldom has a book left me equally intrigued and frustrated as "Memory" has. It's full of lovely writing and bold, imaginative concepts, giving us a strange and fascinating world to explore. And I was hoping some of the mysteries sparked by this book would be answered along the way. Sadly, it feels like so much attention went into weaving a weird and unique world that things like plot and character development fell completely by the wayside.

Jubilee lives on a strange ringworld where, at night, a mysterious fog called the silver rises and alters the landscape, leaving behind fantastic architectural wonders... and destroying anything living it touches. She and her family have managed to survive this harsh yet eerily beautiful world and its silver for years, until the arrival of a stranger disrupts their lives. This stranger seems to have the ability to control the silver... and claims that Jubilee's brother Jolly, killed years ago by the silver, is alive! Desperate to find and save her brother before the stranger can use him for his own devious purposes, Jubilee sets off on a quest that will change her world forever.

This book is packed with fascinating concepts and world-building elements -- the silver and the strange artifacts it leaves behind, mechanical creatures called kobolds that the characters use as tools, calling the people of this planet "players" and indicating that they've lived multiple lives, etc. These helped weave a strange and unique world and culture, though at times it felt like there were SO many of these concepts being introduced that none of them got properly explained or thought out. And some of them, such as the blood and bodily fluids of any other player except one's pre-destined lover being toxic, felt superfluous or poorly thought out.

Also, as a consequence of so much effort being expended towards building the world, things like plot and character development fall by the wayside. Characters are pretty much interchangeable throughout the book -- everyone talks with the same sort of voice, and few characters get any sort of development at all, even Jubilee herself. The stranger actually has some effort made to make him sympathetic instead of a flat villain, at least, but even that falls back on the tired "love makes you evil" trope.

The story itself tends to drag in places, and in the last third of the book falls into confusing territory as the author tries to explain (badly) some of the concepts of the world. I'd hoped that certain elements of the world would be explained better, but the explanations offered just left me more confused. I know that not every mystery needs an answer, but still, it was frustrating.

"Memory" is certainly a unique read, and I've never read anything quite like it. But it's one of those books where I'm enchanted by the world it builds, but not so much by the story and characters of said world.
Profile Image for Leaf Grabenstetter.
165 reviews38 followers
June 14, 2017
In the end, the big reveal was perhaps a little less revealing than I would've liked. But again, it worked plot-wise, and it probably would've seemed extremely forced to reveal everything—there's no way the characters would have understood any of it, their paradigm is so much different, and there are a number of things I feel I can safely infer from my standpoint that the main character has no basis for. It's essentially an SF secret to a fantasy world, which I can certainly appreciate.

The cover blurb crows a great deal about how this is "hard SF". I tend to think of men flying about in spaceships attacking one another and talking in great detail about how their guns and computers work when people use the term "hard SF", and this certainly isn't that. Though there's a great deal of advanced technology about, and the characters know how to use it, they have absolutely no clue how it works. As mentioned above, their paradigm is at once too primitive and too advanced. So it's definitely SF of a sort, but a muddier, more mixed up sub-genre of SF than it sounds from the cover blurb.

It's a beautifully written book, and strange. A sort of folktale mixed with ghost stories and futurism. If you're as much a fan of muddy, complicated, original stories as I am you'll probably love it.
Profile Image for BobA707.
707 reviews13 followers
June 2, 2017
Summary: Interesting characters and the plot moves on pretty well I just found the premise a bit too peculiar, it's central to the story but just never quite worked for me.

Plotline: Moves a long nicely with some interesting diversions

Premise: A bit weird and not really thought through

Writing: Good, great characterisations

Ending: Oh yes

Pace: Never a dull moment!
Profile Image for Trish.
498 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2019
The world building was promising, but it never went anywhere. I mean, there was no explanation of the central thing; how it works and what the mechanisms are. I kept expecting it to be a faulty video game (Why call them "players"?), or some future world with toxic waste or, well, just something. Why only one lover? Why blood poisoning? Are the characters machines or some weird mutation or completely alien? What the hell is a kobold (seems to be some sort of small computer) and how can they be created out of a well? How exactly can the silver build stuff and take stuff apart? How do some people live forever? I'm sticking with the theory that it's a corrupted computer game, but honestly there was no explanation at all. I suppose the intention was I just accept all as presented and go with the plot without thinking about it much, but I could not.
Profile Image for Adrian Howard.
52 reviews54 followers
March 6, 2017
I read a bunch of Linda Nagata's stuff last year, but this one from 2004 somehow escaped me. A really rather fun tale with a science fictional setting, but told with many of the fantasy tropes. Warring "gods", the traditional fantasy quest, a coming of age, but set on an (obvious to the reader if not the protagonists) nanotech created artificial habitat. Recommended.
Profile Image for Celia.
1,410 reviews88 followers
October 10, 2015
2.5 stars, really - while I enjoyed Nagata's writing, I honestly found this too confusing to truly enjoy. There are so many bizarre and strange elements to the world Nagata has created, and I expected the story to have a bit more resolution than it does.
Profile Image for Julie.
242 reviews5 followers
October 30, 2020
Going into this book I already knew the secrets of the silver from reading Nagata's later book "Silver". So I was not as in the dark as a reader who is coming into this book blind and I don't know how much my opinion will matter since I did not have the normal experience of not knowing what's going on and picking up pieces as the novel goes on. I knew how the book was going to end if not exactly the means of that ending. Still it was good to read about these characters again and read their earlier lives from my perspective of the novel 'Silver'.

This is an interesting world, a ring world where you can travel seemingly forever in two directions and not so far in the others because you reach the edge of the world (flat-earthers would love this place). People live on the top (and bottom) of the world, the outer edge, while the inside is ocean.

In this world there is this phenomenom called 'silver' which is a luminous fog that rises at night and settles in the lowlands. If the silver touches you, you die so the settlements are made on high places and enclosed in high walls. Also there is a temple in the middle of the settlement that is key to their survival since temple are created around kobold wells. Kobolds are tiny bugs that live in the wells are emit a sweet smell that drives the silver back.

So what's the story about? Jubilee is our main character and the story begins slowly as we learn about the world. But then one night Jubilee witnesses her 11 year old brother Jolly somehow call the silver to himself and become engulfed. The silver subsides after that so she is spared and of course assumes her brother is dead. Fast forward several years and she is a young woman whom the matchmakers have found her lover who lives far away. That's another thing unique to the world, every person has one lover who is matched to them, it doesn't matter if there is a 20 year age gap between them, as soon as they meet they instinctively feel that they love each other. It's because these people, who call themselves 'players' in the world's 'game', live over and over again and always have the same lover. They don't remember their former lives though some skills are remembered, for instance Jubliee is good with languages. All it takes is a few sentences and she recalls it from a former life.

The tension starts one night when a stranger appears outside the walls of her village and asks for her brother Jolly, asking where is he as if he was still alive. Jubilee is startled to think that her brother may still be alive even though he went into the silver. And the man gives her the creeps, especially when, after being told Jolly was gone and she could not help him the man goes down and enters the silver. She is startled and begins investigating whether it is possible to enter the silver and survive. She begins a journey along with two companions that will take them to strange places, dangerous places, as she begins to learn the history of one in the past who supposedly did survive the silver.

And I think I'll end there. There is eventually an epic (ok, not so epic really) showdown with the bad guy and stuff happens. The end.

(Now that I've finished Memory I'm going back to the book Silver and skimming until I reach the parts featuring Jubilee and friends, now that I know their beginning of the story.)
253 reviews4 followers
September 15, 2021
Memory is a stand along science fiction novel (meaning, it is not part of a series) by the always reliable Linda Nagata. In Memory, Nagata presents a huge artificial world, a giant structure like Ringworld. The inhabitants of this world are constantly in peril from a substance called "silver". Silver is a mist that rises at night - what gets caught in the silver mist is transformed - sometimes a building is replaced by building from a previous era. Often times, whatever is overwhelmed by the silver simply disappears, as if its existence was erased. The people live in temples, with constructs called kobolds that dispel the silver. Anyone who is caught by the silver vanishes and is presumed dead; so travel must be carefully planned to be sure that one is safely inside the walls of a temple complex every night. The silver doesn't rise everywhere on every night; it is unpredictable, but if you stay out too long, your luck is bound to run out and you will perish like all the others.
Jubilee is a young girl living in Temple Huacho with her family. The story begins with Jubilee and her brother, Jolly, exploring a kobold-well. Silver is encountered, and then Jolly is lost to the mist. Years later, when when Jubilee is a young woman, a dark stranger seems to come out of the mist - but that is impossible. No one can survive contact with the silver. The stranger is looking for Jolly - but he died years ago. Could it be that Jolly yet lives? Thus begins a quest by Jubilee through this vast landscape.

The story vaguely reminded me of Wolfe's Book of the New Sun or McAuley's Confluence trilogy - where the technology of the far future is so advanced it seems like magic. Like those stories, Memory features a protagonist wandering through strange territory, encountering strange beings. For example, the ageless Nuanez lives in an isolated temple complex deep in a dangerous, mysterious forest. Nuanez pines for his lost Mari, waiting timelessly for her return. A setting like that seemed to me to be the type of story Gene Wolfe would tell. As does that chilling artificial snake that pursues Jubilee and her companions. A few characters are revealed to be someone else - and that is just the kind of plot device Wolfe loved. I'm not implying that Nagata has ripped off her story from Wolfe, I am praising Memory by saying that the "feel" of the story reminds me of some of my favorite books. I like Memory.

A lot of Jubilee's world is revealed in the end - why there is a silver mist - but I wished to know more about the history of her artificial world. Fortunately, I see Nagata has a new novel called Silver out, which is apparently a sequel - and is also a sequel to Edges, which I also very much enjoyed.
Profile Image for Jerico.
159 reviews3 followers
July 17, 2019
(Closer to 3.5 stars than 3)

Memory is an example of one of my favorite trope-complexes in SF/Fantasy: the not-a-fantasy novel. These are setting that are superficially fantasy-esque, often to almost parodic heights, where an underlying SF rationale for the fantastical elements is deployed. Dying Earth, Book of the New Sun, Ventus, there`s a ton of them and I love the shit out of them all.

Memory is not an exception to this rule. It`s about a world (that we quickly come to understand was colonized by something human-descended, milennia ago) where `the Silver` comes in waves. The Silver is a fluid that comes from the ground, and destroys and rebuilds in equal measure, but is always lethal on human contact. The main character (and 1st person anchor in the story) loses her brother to it in the opening chapter, and the remainder of the story is the fallout of this brother`s return.

We learn a lot about the origin of the Silver and its connection to the world`s history, as well as the nature of its links to the characters we meet over the story. There are fascinating bits of setting deployed judiciously over the story: the people of this world refer to themselves as Players, every Player has a single `true love` who is chemically bound to them, the `system of the world` has broken in novel ways, Players are reborn endlessly through the Silver, their `essences` captured by the Silver and reincarnated again and again. Not all Players are active at one time, so there are those who will never find their true loves in this lifetime.

The fantasy veneer of the setting is good, with elaborate social and cultural mores that flow from the facts of the world. The characters are thin, besides a few main characters, and I think Nagata works better in 3rd person than 1st; but this is a very interesting setting, a solidly constructed plot and a lot of interesting thoughts about continuity, memory, change and morality that comes from the story and never feels overly didactic.

Good, strange and evocative of Queen City Jazz, Nagata`s own nanotech books, some of the Dying Earth subgenre, and, oddly, Dreaming in Smoke. Good stuff.
Profile Image for Shaz.
537 reviews14 followers
November 8, 2019
This was in the Women in Science Fiction bundle. There were bits of this that I really liked. I was very intrigued by the world and wanted to figure it all out. I guess it just never went quite as far in the directions I wanted, but I still think it is an interesting story well told.

Actually it isn't entirely clear to me if this is science fiction or fantasy. Or maybe it's science fantasy? I'm never sure when that label applies. The thing is, I think in this case it matters whether I think of it as one or the other. Normally, a good book is a good book regardless of its genre but in this book is a lot more interesting if it's science fiction. At the same time, that's exactly where it is disappointing.

Let me explain. We are on an artificial and constructed world. There is this substance called the silver that acts in ways nobody understands. It's mostly unpredictable and affects the world. It's like a force of chaos. Now, if this is a fantasy, then the silver is just a magic goo and so, well, it's magic and that's kind of that. But as science fiction, I find it very intriguing to wonder about what the silver is, why it acts the way it does, how it works. And there are things in the book that are clues towards that kind of thinking and that's where I thought this was just cool. But we never really do figure it all out and in that regard this is more like how it would be treated in a fantasy and that's exactly where I think it falls short.
Profile Image for Jani.
390 reviews10 followers
December 31, 2017
Memory is a novel that has a distinctive setting. Set in a human space colony where silver substance rises from the ground almost every night to swallow anyone and everything in its path not protected by small homunculus like creatures living in wells only to rebuild the non-human material by dawn, it has a feel of almost like story from a fantastic land, like a nanotech Arabian Nights.

Jolly and Jubilee live their childhoods quite happily in one of the compounds protected by kobolds until one night the mysterious silver preaches its walls and takes Jolly. Later, the compound is visited by a man, who walks unprotected through silver, and implies that Jolly might still be alive. Jubilee embarks on a quest to find her brother.

The world-building in Memory is very interesting and the unique setting keeps the reader interested despite some two-dimensionality to the many characters. The world feels like from a fairy tale, but with implication that there is a technological workings, if ones that might not be working properly or logically, behind even the mysterious occurences. An interesting novel that loses some of its grip towards the end.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
3 reviews
September 3, 2022
I read this book for the first time as a teenager. I've read it several times since, but this most recent read was perhaps the first time I could really understand how special this book is. The world depicted is so strange and hauntingly beautiful. Nagata does an excellent job of building this complex world without holding your hand through it. The temple kobolds, old gods, fated lovers, and more shaped what I expect from a fantasy/SciFi novel. This book could have been a hundred pages longer and I gladly would have read it. As it stands, the journey Jubilee takes through this land is epic and fantastical. Jubilee is frustrating, smart, and so full of heart. I really loved her.

Much like the sprawling ruins and colorful landscapes the silver leaves behind, this book has left new scenery and outlooks in my mind. I so wish this book had a larger fanbase. The things I would do to read Wikipedia about this universe. I recently learned Memory is a companion to another series by Nagata and I'm very eager to check it out.

Thanks so much to the author for writing one of my favorite books. I'll surely return to it again in a few years time.
Profile Image for Jeff Frane.
294 reviews4 followers
November 11, 2019
I read this primarily as preparation for reading Silver, Linda Nagata's next novel where the characters we met in Edges next visit the constructed world in this book. And this ties the series known as the Nanotech Succession into all the strangeness in this story. It's confusing, and I suppose all I have to do is read the four remaining novels in the series before Silver comes out in the very near future. No problem.

Nagata has two universes she's probing, one in the near future that has a strong military element and one in the impossibly far future where her imagination really runs rampant. Memory is part of that universe and the author regularly confuses, loses and astounds me. The near-future stories are ingenious and far more accessible, with fascinating tech that I can absorb quite easily. Books like this and the Nanotech Succession are honestly a lot of work.
322 reviews3 followers
January 27, 2023
This fascinating science fiction novel gradually unveils a world with very different foundations, from reincarnation, to a mysterious all-consuming "silver" that rises each night and leaves unpredictable new things behind, to the automatons that keep back the "silver" among other things. All of them are presented normally, because they are normal to all our characters. The clues to the deep history of the situation gradually rise through the novel, coming to a conclusion that fit and that still surprised me in some parts.

(Yes, this's science fiction not fantasy. All this is explained by science before the end of the book.)

While the characters are decently enough done, and the plot is good, none of them really grabbed my attention the way the setting did. I see Nagata's returned to this setting in some much-later novels of hers; I might check them out too.
Profile Image for Ninja.
701 reviews6 followers
July 23, 2021
A fairly good sci-fi about a world with a silver fog that comes mostly at night, changing landscapes, taking and returning people. Mostly they seem to get by with older technology, but with some futuristic technology as well. What exactly is going on, and why is the silver fog seemingly on the increase? I liked the characters and the general story, but somehow the central premise of the silver fog and its backstory just didn't really hit home for me.
Reminiscent of Ventus by Schroeder, which I much preferred.
Profile Image for Sharon Phelps.
251 reviews1 follower
December 2, 2017
Not really my type of book but try a sample for yourself

I had trouble getting into the feel or swing of the book. It started off interesting with the adventure of the children in the well and the taking of the brother then it sort of meandered for me. I just got lost sometimes like the sleeping goddess. I really couldn't believe that world or even the players who were copies of each other. So, I am sure others will enjoy it more but it wasn't really for me.
Profile Image for Jamie Rich.
376 reviews1 follower
December 13, 2019
Memory (Kindle Edition) by Linda Nagata

An interesting Science Fantasy tale!

Set, tangentially, in between Silver, and Edges, this is the story of our unlucky hero, and her struggle to merely survive, and also kill a goddess. Or is she supposed to kill the god instead? And her lover, for whom she is predestined, what of their struggles to get together, and stay in love?
elements of SciFi and Fantasy, and interwoven very well into a complete tapestry.
Profile Image for AJ Nelson.
63 reviews7 followers
October 15, 2017
The first Nagata I've read, and don't think it's so great an intro. Very mixed feelings about it. I really enjoyed her prose and the techno-fantasy world she created. But, I was also pretty disappointed by the ending... I think it could have been amazing if she had taken the opportunity to explain the SF side of the story more.
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