Released: June 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
What if someone could rewrite your entire life?
‘My son has been erased.’
Those are the last words the woman tells Barry Sutton before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop.
Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death only to learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. All across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious, new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived? Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him?
Miles away, neuroscientist Helena Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss or the birth of a child.
Barry’s search for the truth leads him on an impossible, astonishing journey as he discovers that Helena’s work has yielded a terrifying gift . . .
‘A fantastic read’ Andy Weir, Number one New York Times bestselling author of The Martian
Blake Crouch is well known in certain circles as the creator of mind-bending stories that deal with the more bizarre of our current, emerging, or speculated upon science. He doesn’t shy away from the confounding elements of these marvels in technology, but rather dives in head first and invites the reader to come along for the ride.
In the case of Recursion, this futuristic technological romp is inspired by recent experiments in which snails and mice were implanted with the memories of snails and mice trained to act in a certain way. These snails and mice who had not experienced these events acted as though they had, as though they remembered what those other beings had experienced.
Memory is what tells us who we are, and dictates how we’re going to respond to the things around us, so how do we know who we are if our memories can change out from under us?
There are so few things in our existence we can count on to give us the sense of permanence, of the ground beneath our feet. People fail us. Our bodies fail us. We fail ourselves. He’s experienced all of that. But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change. What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?
In Recursion, Crouch has built a world in which unreliable memories seem to act almost like a disease, with the CDC recording FMS (or False Memory Syndrome) outbreaks though they are unable to tell the world how or why it spreads.
Crouch taps into the fears and speculations we deal with in our modern world, and includes our real-world examples of false memory, to make his readers question themselves just the right amount.
“Apparently thousands of people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, even though he lived until 2013.”
“I have heard of this. It’s the whole Berenstain Bears thing.”
With twists and turns galore, this is a hard book to predict, even for those most well-versed in the genres and tropes. The world is crafted well and readers are bound to find themselves invested in the outcome.
Some of the wibbly-wobbly elements didn’t quite line up, and could be a little confusing as a result, but they shouldn’t detract too much from the enjoyment of the story if you don’t examine them too closely….
When he tries to look these alternate memories squarely in the eye, he finds that they carry a different feel from any memory he’s ever known.
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