Monday, February 27, 2017

What I Learned from The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: Worldbuilding and Memories



The Forgetting is a story about a world where everyone forgets everything every twelve years. Only Nadia remembers everything. She’s an adventurer likes to go over the wall that confines the city and explore the world beyond. With one sister who loves her, one sister who hates her, a father who abandoned her, and a mentally ill mother, she has plenty to want to escape from.

I honestly probably wouldn’t have read this book if I had realized it was science fiction and not fantasy, but I’m glad I did.

The planetary worldbuilding is beautiful. The planet has distinct terrain, and it’s more severely tilted on its axis than ours, or maybe the settlement is just farther north, but they experience different seasons: a light season and a dark season. Nighttime is referred to as resting time. Even the names have worldbuilding built into them: Lydia the Weaver, Nadia the Dyer’s Daughter, etc. I’ve been going through Patricia C. Wrede’s Worldbuilding Questionnaire. It’s very intense—26 pages single-spaced when copied into a Word document—but I’m willing to bet Sharon Cameron went through similar effort.

Because I lost some memories in a recent brain operation, I read this book hoping for a message about the importance of memories. In the book, there’s a famous inscription that says “I am made of my memories. Without memories, they are nothing.” Accordingly, anyone who goes through the forgetting and doesn’t have a book to tell them who they are gets put in separate labor camps with poor conditions, where breeding is prohibited. Reacting to this, it’s easy for the reader to see that, of course, the inscription isn’t true. Even without memories, people are worthwhile. Furthermore, one character chooses to live without memories and becomes happier and more valuable to society without them. I appreciate this message that memories do not completely define us, and I’m sure it means a lot to people in similar situations, and people who are impacted by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Thank you for this message, Sharon Cameron.


All in all: 5 stars

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