Friday, June 27, 2008

Memory

This is a continuation of a series I started a while ago by Lois McMaster Bujold. This one wasn't so much an action book. All the big action scenes actually happen before the book starts. It was a bit of a detective novel and a bit of a discussion about memory and identity and what makes us who we are.
The book opens with the main character awakening from a seizure to find he had accidentally cut off the legs of someone he was trying to rescue as he had an unexpected epileptic type seizure just at the wrong moment. In desperation to keep from being discharged he tries to hide his condition and ends up being kicked out of the military. So he has a lot of thinking to do to readjust his life. Since he is only 30 he has a lot of angst to go through.
Normally that kind of thing irritates me but the plot devices used to drag this character from his slump was very interesting. A longtime friend, and his immediate superior develops problems with a memory chip in his brain. Like rapidly advancing Alzheimer's, he couldn't tell when he was. The investigation to help his mentor provides a base and reason to continue.
The basic plot framework lends itself to ideas about identity and the importance of memory for who you think you are. It went very well with a book that I started but had to stop in the middle for various reasons, Saga of the Renuciates by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She is writing in the mid-80s about women's issues. What makes you a woman, what are the differences between men and women, and what does freedom mean? I finally got tired of freedom being equated with being able to be separated from the consequences of your actions. A completely selfish definition of freedom that corrupts every feminist argument I've ever seen.
Your identity is too much based on how you see yourself in relation to others. If the only thing you want is freedom from restrictions or demands from those around you you may as well become a hermit because that is an impossible demand to make of people around you.

Memory. Lois McMaster Bujold. Baen Books. 1996

1 comment:

jendoop said...

Both books sound interesting. I've been pondering a post about feminism, really it confuses me recently, especially the rabid, yelling spittle in your face feminists, they are usually yelling in the faces of other women, which seems against the point to me. Anyway, thinking about it...