Short Stories 366:200 — “Memory,” by Sally McLennan

coverOf the many planets, ships, aliens and other fantastical pieces of Julie E. Czerneda’s Clan Chronicles universe, Auord and the residents thereof, the Auordians, is a place that we only see through awful events, and with some horrific villains at the forefront. In “Memory,” tucked in The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis, we find out about the original inhabitants of that world, the Moradhi, and a quirk of their species: the males don’t have a continuance of new memory, but with the aid of females, can maintain precise and perfect long-term memory recollection.

If that sounds a bit confusing, don’t worry, in McLennan’s hands, and in the voice of one such male, Ir, it’s laid out clearly and quickly becomes apparent what it entails. Ir has skills and knowledge built throughout his life, solidified by the work of his mothers and sisters with him at the end of a day, codified into his ongoing sense of himself (as well as some help from technology), and one of the things Ir loves the most is botany, which sends him on a particular adventure in this particular story. Ir is invited to spend time on a planet with unique plant-life and so off he goes with his sister to visit the sole human living there, and then proceeds to have a near-lethal brush with far more than he bargained for.

Cleverly weaving in some of the darkest characters from Czerneda’s saga, but told through the eyes of Ir, what unfolds is a story of a being who might not remember yesterday clearly, but is clever and quick-witted, and aware of how the infallible long-term memory of his kind is one of the only things he’s got to get him out of a terrible situation. “Memory” shows us a character with limitations working within his limitations with help from both companion accommodations and technological accessories, and I found myself liking it just as much as an allegory as a science fiction story with alien biology. The final few moments of the tale, when Ir’s immediate memories of the events of the tale have since passed, are especially effective.

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