Score: 89/100 (8.9 out of 10)
There are so many great and potentially-great things in this book, but for 3/4ths of it, our brains were melting and leaking out of our ears, eyes, and noses. The what is the what? And the where? And the why? Huh?
There are so many things that just happen in this book. There are so many things that just get talked about in this book, usually in incredible and seemingly unnecessary detail. Did you want to learn the history of the Civil War and the fall of the Roman Empire for some reason in the middle of reading about this futuristic society and its ability to implant knowledge into your brain Matrix-style? Well, here's the book for you!
Did you want to learn about Judeo-Christian theology/mythology mixed in with New-Age paganism, secularism/atheism, and pansexuality for really no discernible reason? Then this is the book for you! If you wanted to read a somewhat compelling thriller involving the abd*ction of an American pr**ident (censored so the Secret Service doesn't come after us) interwoven with spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous Lesbian insta-romance built on top of a plot that we thought was about a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist uncovering an unscrupulous, secret conspiracy to found a horse-racing rink and a Hollywood Island/pocket universe/alternate timeline, then this book might be for you! Hold on while we catch our breath after reading that sentence.
Ok, let's continue...
Did you ever dream that one day you'd be assigned to interview your favorite actor or actress—the hottest, most famous, most desirable human being in the world—only to find out that they've been madly in love with you for years and want nothing more than to rub their hands all over your luscious private parts, and even marry you? Just. Like. That. Well, then this is the book for you!
Did you ever wonder if maybe the government or some business oligarchs might want to implant a chip into you that can control the way you think, allow you to bring your thoughts to fruition, or even manipulate your physiology? Then this is the book for you!
Did you ever wonder what would happen if a politician became so powerful and popular that they could found their own splinter party separate from the Donkeys and the Elephants, yet still be Speaker of the House somehow? Then this is the book for you!
This book is filled to the brim with so many amazing and brilliant ideas; they're just muddled and sliced together like fruits, sardines, and protein powder in a blender. It's like a pineapple pizza, or noodles with cranberry bits, or toast with raisins in it.
Now, we digress a little because there were things about the first 340 pages that frustrated or confused us that kinda got explained later in the book. For example, the author felt the need to constantly stop whatever plot was happening in order to give us a long, detailed history lesson that could presumably take up a whole lecture (50-60 minutes). We eventually figured out that the president and one of the main characters was a former history professor who specialized in the fall of the Roman Empire. We also realized pretty quickly that all these lessons from history were relevant in that they were symbolic and foreshadowing the fall of the United States of America, western civilization, or even human civilization as a whole.
In other words, we screwed up in the past, would you like us to continue to screw up and go the way of the dodo?
Rome wasn't destroyed in a day. Years of dumb@$$ery add up.
The problem with all of this is, whenever these full-length lectures occurred in the middle of the book, the plot and pacing stopped dead in their tracks. These history lessons start taking place almost immediately, before we're even able to learn who the main characters are and why we should really care about them. They just barge in unannounced and uninvited like a mother-in-law to an orgy. And that's another thing. This book is such an orgy. From beginning to end, it just seems like everyone is just so dang horny for everyone else. People see each other and become like frisky rabbits that just need to jump on each other right away. We get that the author may have been trying to portray what a pansexual society might be like, but it just doesn't seem to fit the rest of the book with its political drama and history lectures. Do you want us to take all of this seriously or do you want us to be laughing our butts off with the over-the-top, out-of-nowhere sexuality?
So we've been super critical of this book, but why does it still score relatively high? Because it's imaginative as heck and eerily relevant to the apocalyptic events of 2020-2022. We are looking at a dark, dank American and global future hundreds or even just dozens of years from now. Heck, we could imagine this coming next year. We are seeing a huge, concerning culture war, particularly between the Left and the Right, and new ways with tradition. Riots are breaking out on both sides because of this. People are dying or having their lives upended.
In “The Future is a Memory” we see a population torn between accepting implants that can presumably give them an advantage (anti-aging, ability to communicate and know more things) but can also alter their thoughts and their perception of reality. We also see the rise of neo-politics, powerful political movements that are rapidly gaining steam like the Alt-Right and Neoliberalism that are starting to challenge the older order built on checks and balances and hearing all sides.
On a side note, we get one of the funniest lines in any book we've ever read when describing why a politician was hand-picked:
“Someone whose beliefs would support Thorne's imperial outlook and who could be easily manipulated. Someone so far to the left that they were right and thus fascist” (page 287).
Just read that a few times if you didn't get that the first time. It's actually hilarious. What this statement assumes or at least pokes fun at is the fallacy that everyone on the Right is fascist and that everyone on the far-Left is so militant and dogmatic that they're actually fascist too. So, remember McCarthyism? Yeah, that's that except now everyone we don't agree with isn't communist anymore, they're just a fascist. That's literally how some people think these days.
There's also some really good information. The history is actually fun to read and fascinating, although distracting from the plot and characters.
Speaking of characters, some of them are actually quite interesting. Ashley and Veronica, although they start out in a hard-to-buy insta-romance, develop into a compelling couple with some layers. Veronica is another candidate for “Hottest Character” along with old-man-playboy Jack from “My Famous Brain” by Diane Wald. President Rebecca Sheridan is very interesting not only as a female president, but as a female president with a very specific skill-set and knowledge of history (and how not to repeat it). And another great thing about this book is that it has a clear main villain: Speaker of the House Richard Thorne, the Machiavellian leader of the Imperials—a branch of the extreme Right.
Things actually come full-circle, and you get why the title is “The Future is a Memory.” If you have the patience to wait it out, it can pay off.
Oh, really quickly, some of the coolest and best-done parts of this book involve the “hollow” technology—another term for 3D virtual reality or means of communicating and consuming media. We seriously think this is a realistic portrayal of that.
Things like this make this book a very worthwhile read!