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Forest of Memory

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,171 ratings  ·  271 reviews
Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures, trading on nostalgia for a past long gone. Her clients are rich and they demand items and experiences with only the finest verifiable provenance. Other people’s lives have value, after all.

But when her A.I. suddenly stops whispering in her ear she finds herself cut off from the grid and loses communication with the rest of the wo
Kindle Edition, 92 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  1,171 ratings  ·  271 reviews

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Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katya lives in a hyper-connected world where everyone is always online and real-time experiences are recorded, buffered and can be uploaded as desired and even sold.

So when her connection to the net is jammed and she is abducted because she's witnessed something really strange, she's suddenly without the tools that she has relied on her whole life. The story is told by Katya after the experience, and it's clear through her story how much she is used to relying on digital storage to augment her m
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This left me wondering.
And I'm still wondering.
Gosh, I wish this was a bigger book, I would have loved to know more. Such intrigue and mystery. I want more!

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Heidi The Reader
Katya lives in a futuristic world where everyone and everything is linked to the web. Her AI speaks in her ear and fills her vision telling her about the people around her, their histories, past business deals, and anything that could be of interest to her in her job as an "Authenticities" (basically antiques) dealer. One day, on her way back from a purchase, she sees a man shoot a deer (very illegal) and realizes that her connection to the web has crashed, leaving her marooned in the real world ...more
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I enjoyed this novella/short story very much - a world where everyone is connected into the net, and normal goods like a boring old dictionary are incredibly coveted, for their status as antiquities. We're left wondering what's actually happened to the main character, a woman abducted and held in the forest by a man mysteriously doing something or other with the deer (or is she?)... it's all a bit hazy, but it's welcome in this for the fun of being immersed in another world for a short period.
For a short novella, I actually got surprisingly invested in this — and didn’t really realise until the end, where I was rooting for… something more. A rescue, a redemption, something. The sting in the tail of the story, while most of it was obvious to me, works well and adds to the meaning of everything that comes before it, which is exactly how stories should be written — especially short ones.

The setting of the story, while not revolutionary — the whole idea of society being connected, of sto
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If your memory isn't perfect, how can you know what is true? How can you convince others that your experience of the world is truthfully reported? I liked this brief little book that owes as much, or more, to the conventions of mystery and suspense writing as the strictures of speculative fiction. Kowal's novella imagines a world where technology has pervaded our bodies to an extent that being offline is an anomaly and where even our relationship to nature is imbued with connectivity. What happe ...more
When I read the blurb for the book I remember thinking that this might be rough (what with a man coming out of the forest and kidnapping the protagonist) but, to my surprise, the story was rather cute in a weird way. So this review is an anti-warning, I suppose: if you want to read this novella but are afraid that it may contain violence, just go ahead.
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this (very) short novella. It does a lot in a few pages but I was not satisfied with it in that I felt there was so much more story to tell. The author does a great job of pulling you in and building tension/suspense but then the ending just wasn't satisfying.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella, sf
I picked this little book up at the library because I was surprised to see such a small book. It's hard to get novellas published, but this looks like part of a novella series from Tor. I'm not a reader of SF so don't feel quite qualified to review this, but as a reader of short fiction, I was impressed.

Set in the future, when technology is more advanced and antiquities are high commodities, this is the provenance tale behind an old typewriter Katya finds and is preparing for sale. She types thi
Forest of Memory is a forgettable novella dealing with real memory vs. technology assisted memory and how we remember events. It was just an alright read that I wouldn't recommend to others. The novella fails to deliver the ending in a way that makes the themes powerful. Katya is a collector and reseller of antiques in the future. In the future, antiques are anything that wasn't created by a 3D printer. During one of her jobs, she loses her connection to the internet that is always on in her bra ...more
Brianne Reeves
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is more of a 3.5 read. I liked it a lot, but the pacing could be slow. There's a lot of interesting work about the idea of connectivity, memory, and verification.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m steadily working my way up to total fanboy status regarding Mary Robinette Kowal’s work. As I’ve mentioned several times on the blog, her insight, perspective, and wit are one of the great draws of Writing Excuses, and her work that I’ve read (Shades of Milk and Honey, The Lady Astronaut of Mars, and her contribution to the Shadows Beneath anthology) I have absolutely loved.

I have her most recent novel, Ghost Talkers, on my to-read list, as well as Word Puppets, a collection of her shorts, b
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: publisher, novellas

I received an egalley of this novella from the publisher for review. Thank you to Publishing! This review is my honest opinion. Forest of Memory will be released on March 8, 2016.

In Forest of Memory, Katya deals in Authenticities and Captures: finding, authenticating, and selling items of the past, items that others desire because they are unique and laden with history and experience ('wabi-sabi'). Katya is in the habit of Capturing experiences - perhaps a recording of utterly quiet

Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The story plays with the themes of memory, recollection, and authenticity. Did something really happen if no one was there to record it? Is an account true if filtered by our fallible memories? If someone tells a story, can we ever be sure they're not lying?

Some people found an anti-technology message in this story. I really don't. It just asks some important questions about a technological society: how much are we willing to trust our memories, our records to technology? what happens when the c
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very intriguing set up with our protagonist making a living selling antiquities such as typewriters in a technologically advanced but unspecified future date. She is en route to a client when she's kidnapped by a mysterious man who may or may not have something to do with the disappearance of deer.

This was rather a frustrating novella for me, since I liked the characters and style of writing, and the world while largely only hinted at had well imagined tech. It felt like there was much more to
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
What happens if you are always connected and can rely on a personal AI assistant including recordings of everything you experience - and suddenly you are disconnected? This is exactly the situation that Katya has to face and what we read is her personal report of what has happened during the 3 days of her disappearance.

Ted Chiang has already written about infallible, artificial memories in his novella The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling with the focus on how such memories help to make wise
Brenda A
Hmmmm. It initiates a conversation about living off the grid and what one man--backed by some unknown entity--may do as a result of this grid.

That's really all I can say. Nothing is settled or established, and it seems as though the author wanted to end it with a knowing smile. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Elbowing me in the side and going, you see what I did there?

I do, I did, but I wanted more. Our narrator went on tangents that were a little annoying when I wanted more meat--more explanation!

Stefan Fergus
My (not-particularly-well-written) review now up here:

Short form: really interesting, well-written novella; interesting things to say about the growth in dependence on social media and what it does for memory, personal interaction, privacy, etc.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Started a bit slow, but really took off, and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The narrative presentation was a bit odd (interview-style), but I got used to it quickly and ended up finding this to be a very pleasing short.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, read-in-2016
I loved this. Short and powerful, it has stayed with me for days after completion.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Interesting, so many unanswered questions! And designed to be that way, I'm certain.
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Short but interesting. What happens when you can't use your tech and need to rely on your own memory?
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novellas
I thought the world set up in this story was pretty interesting, but the story was not tight enough for me at all. I'd be interested to read this as an expanded story that took its time and was more clear on the message the author was trying to convey. The focus on some details (main character's job dealing in Authenticities, the prevalence of technology and social media in this 20-minutes-in-the-future world) was really enjoyable, but those were definitely more thought out than the actual story ...more
thea rosemary
I’ll admit my main attraction to FOREST OF MEMORY was the cover. I mean, it’s stunning. But when it came time to reading it, I couldn’t get invested.

This is more of a sci-fi story which I wasn’t quite expecting, and I’m fine with that. My issue was there was lack of description for this world and character’s positions. Even when things were explained, I was still perplexed.

Kowal had this unique writing style, and I found it fascinating how she wrote from the main character’s perspective as if s
This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.

Mary Robinette Kowal takes the idea of memory and its fallibility as her central theme in this novella, and pairs it with the ever-fascinating ideas of narrative, and unreliable narrators, and their motivations.

Kowal's narrator lives in a world of permanent connection, through her intelligent system, and a world of permanent life-casting - ideas that have a strong hold on the world of science fiction writing at the moment. I was strongly
Laura Thomas
In an unspecified future where everyone is connected, Katya, a dealer in Authenticities, items from the past, falls off the grid. This is her account, typos included, of what happened during the three days she was off the grid. Believe it or not, she swears its true, even though she has no proof, technical or physical.

Such a riveting tale. The synopsis tells you a lot, but actually reading the story from Katya’s point of view was fun. She rambled a bit and apologized for her typos. Once I could
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2016
In a world where you're always connected to the network, where you have a little AI in your head recording everything you see and hear, what is it like to be offline? What is it like to have to rely on your actual human memory? It's a simple concept Mary Robinette Kowal explores in Forest of Memory, and she doesn't play with it as much as I would have liked, but the narrator's voice carries the story through an incredibly tense scenario. Katya, who buys and sells Authenticities like 20th century ...more
Caleb Huett
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Forest of Memory is like the best episode of Black Mirror. Kowal touches on lots of ideas -- the future of living "on the grid," humanity's relationship with nature, the inherent value of genuine human experience -- in a very short time, and made me wish there was more of this world to explore. Plus, there's something really inspiring about a character who can find value and joy in a coffee stain on an old dictionary.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5. This was a really captivating story that felt woefully incomplete. So many cool things are introduced without any closure or answers or enough details for me to get any sense of this future world. Would have been a great novel I think.
2.5 stars

This is the first time I've read anything by this author. A bit disappointed.
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Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and her short story "For Want of a Nail" won the 2011 Hugo. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year's Best anthologies. She is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass (Tor 2012).

Mary, a professional puppeteer and voice actor, has performed for LazyTown

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