Memory and Metaphor is a wonderful debut novel by Andrea Monticue, with enough well-researched technical detail to immerse sci fi fans in a believable vision of humanity’s future among the stars, but not so much to make it inaccessible to casual readers.
The likable Sharon Manders wakes on a spaceship to find her memory full of holes, accused of a crime she doesn’t remember nor, as anyone who gets to know her would agree, would she ever commit. Set a millennia in the future, humans across the galaxy have taken cell phone addiction to the next level and have them permanently implanted as part of their brains, allowing them to live an augmented reality catered to how they want to see the world instead of how it is. Sharon’s malfunctioned in an accident that should have killed her, leaving her disconnected from everyone else. The last thing Sharon remembers is being a 21st century archaeologist, so for her, being without the device is no big deal.
Learning the nuances of 31st century living, however, is. Her navy profile says she’s a quantum mechanic. Sharon barely knows what quantum means, let alone how to fix anything related to it, putting her in the even more awkward position of figuring out how to earn a living.
Sharon is smart, though, and if that were her only problem, she could certainly have coped, but the investigation into the sabotage of the ship she was assigned to, of which she’s the primary suspect, turns up more questions than answers. Sharon’s civil rights in the matter are muddy due to her miraculous resurrection and complete change of personality, giving the investigative committee the arguable authority to hold her against her will—or worse, dissect her. Sharon is forced to stop playing by the rules and flees, leading her to an underground world full of colorful characters with flexible morals and agendas of their own. She must choose carefully who to trust, or she might find herself in an even worse situation.
Andrea does a marvelous job of painting the future, with vivid cultural descriptions, starkly alien planets with huge insects, and an array of 80’s and 90’s references to keep mature readers entertained. The plot moves at a steady pace, slower at points and heart-pounding in others, and does a good job of teasing the mystery of Sharon’s existence throughout the entire book. There are a few places where the point of view changed with little warning, which made me re-read to make sure I understood whose thoughts I was seeing, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the characters, story, Andrea’s incredible imagination, or from making me anxious to read the next book in the series when it’s available.
If you’re looking for a fresh science fiction adventure, Memory and Metaphor is sure to satisfy.