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The Persistence of Memory (Mnevermind, #1)
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Science Fiction Discussions > Mnevermind, parts 1 and 2, Jordan Castillo Price

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Ulysses Dietz | 1574 comments These books, two-thirds of a so-called trilogy (which should really be call a three-part serial—but more on that later), display all of the smart, well-crafted writing that make Jordan Castillo Price one of my favored authors. As a fan of her “Psycop” series, I knew I’d like these.

The central science-fiction premise—mnemography—is used as a narrative framework rather than the driving focus of the story. In an otherwise recognizable modern Madison, Wisconsin, Price posits a well-developed technology that allows for the proactive stimulation of the brain in order to create artificial memories. The wry fact of this technology is that it is exploited for its entertainment value, resulting in a new field of academic study and a global system of so-called memory palaces where customers pay to spend four hours having self-directed dreams and enjoy instant gratification. Mnems are like video games in your brain, except that you direct the action and then forget everything but the good feelings within an hour.

The part of this fascinating idea that develops into a major plot point in the first book is the notion that one of these recreational memory sessions might accidentally “go persistent;” meaning that the false memory would persist, altering the person’s subjective reality permanently.

The created-memory business is also the catalyst for the meeting between Elijah Crowe and Daniel Schroeder. Crowe is a brilliant mnemographer, even more brilliant than Daniel. But, while Elijah uses his mnem (pronounced neem) skills to escape from the awkwardness of his place on the autism spectrum; Daniel has been betrayed by his own proficiency in this field, and now merely struggles to keep the little memory palace he runs with his father alive.

The Persistence of Memory is written from Daniel’s point of view; while Forget Me Not is from Elijah’s. The two men are interesting, not necessarily easy characters (also something very much in Price’s style); but I grew to care about them and sympathize with them. Price carefully crafts the secondary characters, weaving them into each man’s individual life; and then creates intersections between Elijah’s world and Daniel’s. These moments of intersection take the reader—and the two men—outside the confines of their evolving connection and force us AND them to consider the ways in which their interpersonal dealings shape their behavior toward each other. I’m not articulating this well, but it is done thoughtfully and is really quite riveting. This is a behavior study wrapped in a sci-fi romance. Ms. Price knows how to write characters, and her treatment of Elijah’s autism is particularly insightful.

My only gripe is that each of these books ends as an incomplete part of a larger story. These could have been all bound (and sold) in a single volume as Part I, Part II, Part III (which, by the way, I have bought). This is not a trilogy to me, but a serial, and that’s a real distinction. The books cannot stand alone, and I found the perfectly logical endpoints of parts I and II annoyingly unsatisfying—as if buying the next book was compulsory and not an option if one was to avoid feeling cheated. The word “cliffhanger” isn’t quite right here, because the stories aren’t really action driven. But it’s the same jarring effect.

I am in the anti-cliffhanger camp, but I know we’re a minority in the m/m world. Ms. Price has earned her fans, and my guess is that this serial will add to her fanbase.

Ulysses Dietz | 1574 comments Third time’s the charm? No, that’s not it; it’s just that Jordan Castillo Price’s trilogy fulfilled the promise of the first two installments with its third one, and I found myself so in sync with the main characters—Daniel Schroeder and Elijah Crowe—that it was as if I was part of the book.

The Mnevermind Trilogy is a love story, rather than a romance. This third book explores in much greater detail the technical and logistical workings of mnemography and memorysmithing—two marvelous neologisms created by the author that become completely routine and acceptable in the context of this book (much, I might say, as the terms cell phone and tablet have in our real contemporary world). It is a special skill to make a fictitious technology feel real to a reader, and the whole world of mnemography seems so plausible in the author’s hands that I ceased even questioning what I was reading.

Both of the prickly leads, Daniel and Elijah, come into sharper, more intense focus in this book; we have already begun to empathize with them, and in part three we can finally just fall quietly in love with them as they fall in love with each other. And I don’t mean to discount the secondary characters—Larry and Big Dan and Carlotta. This series is rich with people, rich in the kind of small detail that makes it seem true and possible and even inevitable. Startlingly, the book ends up seeming to me as if it is sci-fi imitating real life. The science-fiction elements of the book become a metaphor for life itself.

My recommendation is that you buy all three books and read them straight through. It’s not a big deal, and this way you get the entire sweep of the author’s subtle gift at storytelling.

PaperMoon | 665 comments Well I did follow Uly's advice and bought and read all three of the books in this 'series' - and I felt they were well worth every cent I paid for them. Castillo-Price amazes me with her created worlds ... so different and fascinating.

I have to agree with Uly when he commends the author for managing to make fictitious technology (and I mean jargon, operating systems, professional services, user-training, operating skill-sets, techno-glitches etc - wow!) seamlessly woven into what appears to be 21st century world.

With most of the story being unfolded from the perspective of a jaded and bitter Daniel, I was soooo pleased that his character arc ended where it did by the end of book 3. I found myself reflecting on deeper themes such as:
(1) what is happiness?
(2) how much agency/control do we have on making ourselves happy?
(3) does a constant striving for success and security actually make us more unhappy?
(4) contentment - is that just settling for something less than ideal/perfect?
(5) how do we reconcile / accept another person when we discover/realize the perfect fantasy image of them crumbling in the face of flawed reality?

I only wish there was more of these characters in these books - especially Larry (OMG) he's my favorite of all! He reminds me so much of Doug from
The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen.

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