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Elsie is not a real person. From the moment she came to exist, she has been told this repeatedly. She is merely the physical embodiment of an unwanted memory extracted from another woman, a real woman, whose face she sees every time she looks in a mirror. Except that she remembers a life she didn’t live, loves people she never met, thinks her own thoughts, and feels her own feelings. So what makes a real person….real? Exquisite and haunting, Mem has stayed with me.
June 2018 Indie Next List
“Adding fictional scientific breakthroughs to a glittering era of history is a setup for a great plot, but it takes an artist’s hand to carry it beyond its initial gimmick. Bethany C. Morrow’s examination of memory, desire, and what makes us human flourishes in its alternative historical setting. Her writing is as well-paced as her plot, in which the Mems develop beyond their creator’s intentions and the most evolved of them suffers at our least-evolved hands. Morrow’s novel has a beauty to it that underlines its critical depth and heart-racing conclusion.”
— Hannah Oliver Depp, WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Step into this alternate history where technology is created to remove unwanted memories and place them in vessels—that happen to look just like you! These ‘Mems’ are human snapshots, usually limited to existing inside the memory that created them. However, this story follows a Mem that is different. Although she never ages or physically changes, she retains identity, learns, grows, and develops relationships. This leads to the exploration of concepts of life, individuality, freedom, and civil rights. What makes us...us? Why is this memory different, and what did its loss cost the original owner?”
— Megan Irland, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
"Bethany C. Morrow achieves the nearly impossible feat of creating truly new speculative fiction; reading it feels like discovery." -- BuzzFeed In Jazz Age Montreal, an underground Vault imprisons living memories. Known as Mems, theses physical clones of other people are doomed to experience a single memory over and over--one that belongs not to them, but to the memory's original Source. Lacking thoughts or personality of their own, Mems expire inside the Vault, where they are monitored by scientists known as Bankers. That is, except for one 19-year-old Mem--Dolores Extract n. 1--who shocks the world with the capacity to make her own memories. With the help of the doctor who created her, Dolores is released from captivity and establishes an independent life in the glittering city. She is a beautiful enigma, celebrated by a public obsessed with this dangerous procedure. When she is suddenly summoned back to the Vault, she must confront the Bankers and her own Source to discover the ultimate truth: is she human, or not?
About the Author
A California native, Bethany C. Morrow spent six years living in Montreal, Quebec. Her speculative literary fiction uses a focus on character and language to engage with, comment on and investigate worlds not unlike our own. MEM is her debut novel. She currently resides in upstate New York.