Review: Nostalgia

Synopsis: In the indeterminate future in an unnamed western city, physical impediments to immortality have been overcome. As society approaches the prospect of eternal life, a new problem must be confronted: with the threat of the brain’s storage capacity being overwhelmed, people want to move forward into the future free from redundant, unwanted and interfering memories. Rejuvenated bodies require rejuvenated identities–all traces of a person’s past are erased and new, complete fictions are implanted in their stead. On occasion, though, cracks emerge, and reminders of discarded lives seep through. Those afflicted suffer from Leaked Memory Syndrome, or Nostalgia, whereby thoughts from a previous existence burrow in the conscious mind threatening to pull sufferers into an internal abyss.

This is one of those books you read when you’re looking for something to challenge your brain a little bit and give you a break from story-driven novels. Something that as it progresses tends to wax philosophical while losing all semblance of following a three act structure or being character driven. Something that makes you feel a little smarter for a moment before making you wish there was something a little bit deeper there.

I wanted to read this book because:
1) sci-fi
2) Canadian author
3) there’s a lion on the cover.
Evidently the lion is a metaphor, the sci-fi is more like speculative fiction, and yeah it’s set in Canada I guess, but that doesn’t contribute much.

Basically this is the future where the rich can afford to be given new lives. They are given new organs to replace failing ones, and their memories are wiped and replaced with fictionalized childhoods and interests. There are bureaus/clinics whose job is to do these procedures and come up with some of these new personalities.

I wanted more emphasis on the rejuvenation process and the scientific aspects, especially because the narrator is a doctor/therapist whose job is to ensure that his clients take well to their new fictional lives and story-lines they’ve been given. Instead, this is more about the cultural divide between the developed world who can mostly afford these things, and what I take to be the equivalent of today’s third-world. There is also a dialogue between the elderly who have gone through this rejuvenation process, and the people on their first lives who can’t get jobs due to the old people still working. Think baby-boomers and millennials.

So, not a lot of new concepts really, just the same issues our current society has been talking about, but in relation to fictional scientific developments. It’s a really fast read though, and not a waste of time. As I said, it’s just something good to break up the usual reading pattern.

Title: Nostalgia
Author: M.G. Vassanji
Pages: 258
Genre: Science Fiction, Cultural, Canadian Author
Published: Sept. 2016 by Doubleday Canada
This Book on Goodreads
This Review on Goodreads

3 Star3 Ships- Pretty decent

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2 thoughts on “Review: Nostalgia

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  1. I really like the premise of this book but it sounds like they sort of used it in order to shoehorn today’s issues. While it can be argued that good science fiction does this, I would also have been more interested in finding out about how they achieved immortality and the moral implications of changing memories. Great review!

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    1. Oh definitely, that’s why it fell a little flat for me. I thought that perhaps those issues would still have been good to talk about, if the issues brought with immortality had also been discussed. Instead, this book would imply that the issues are the same as ever, only now they’re caused by immortality, whereas in my eyes they’ve always been present.

      Liked by 1 person

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