– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘iRemember’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
S.V. Bekvalac was born in 1987 in Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, but grew up in London.
She studied German and Russian at Oxford, and went to film school in Prague. After almost becoming a film-maker and then an academic, researching cities and films, she found herself writing fiction about cities instead. She started off with screenplays and short stories, but they got longer and longer. iRremember is her first novel.
She has lived in cities all over Europe. Now she lives in London, or in one of her own imaginary cities.
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The city of iRemember shimmers in the desert haze, watched over by the Bureau, a government agency that maintains control through memory surveillance and little pink pills made from the narcotic plant Tranquelle.
It looks like an oasis under its geodesic dome, but the city is under siege. ‘Off-Gridder’ insurgents are fighting to be forgotten.
Bureau Inspector Icara Swansong is on a mission to neutralise the threat. Her investigation leads her into iRemember’s secret underbelly, where she finds herself a fugitive from the very system she had vowed to protect. She has to learn new rules: trust no one. Behind every purple Tranquelle stalk lurk double-agents.
A sci-fi noir with a psychedelic twist, iRemember explores the power the past holds over us and the fragility of everything: what is, what once was, and what will be.
Government Inspector Icara Swansong, Bureau Rank 4, is carrying out a routine inspection of a memory processing plant. Lucian Ffogg, the plant’s ageing Chief Mnemonic Officer (and the plant’s only occupant), knows that she has probably been sent into Desert Ring 2 to collect evidence on insurgent (Off-Gridder) activity. Specifically, to collect intel on him, the suspected Off-Gridder ring-leader. We see Icara from Lucian’s perspective. Two generations and two different worlds collide, and expose a glimpse of the dark side of iRemember, both the memory surveillance network and the civilization it is named after. The ‘Tranquelle’ Lucian refers to is a narcotic plant, which all Bureaucrats and most of the citizens of iRemember are hooked on. It helps with memory storage and gives Bureaucrats a feeling of calm and happiness. Lucian has sworn off the ‘pink stuff’. But at least he’s miserable by choice. Watching Icara through Lucian’s eyes we begin to wonder who Icara really is, and what she might become …
… As the embarrassing process of inspection continued, Lucian found himself growing less and less fond of Icara Swansong.
Quite apart from the prying, and the possibility of being locked up in a cell at the Temple for sabotage, Lucian didn’t like that the opinion of this Government missionary seemed to matter to him. It was the way she looked at him after she had found a new failing. He found himself caring, before he had had the opportunity to reflect on how he felt about it. She wasn’t just diligent. She was mean. She took pleasure in uncovering bigger and better examples of his mediocrity.
How could he explain to this ecstatic arm of Frome’s Bureaucracy – whose outlook was as rosy as a packet of the pink stuff – that it would probably happen to her too? One day, she would look down at her Government Issue touch-screen pad and all the neatly typed report files inside it, and think to herself, ‘what does any of it matter?’ How could he ever explain to this woman what disappointment feels like? How could she possibly understand who she was really working for? She wouldn’t believe him if he told her. How could he explain to this bright-eyed harpy what it feels like to have your most banal, depressing dream of reality confirmed to yourself each morning? She couldn’t possibly understand what it would feel like to have your entire bright future reduced to dust in a matter of seconds by Helena Frome. To have your research torn up and tossed into the incinerator. To be denied a future because you looked too hard under the hood and found something no one wanted you to find. To hate Frome’s Bureau, and yet to want to belong to it? These were very complicated emotions. Lucian suspected that Inspector Swansong, underneath her green suit, was immune to complicated emotion. Like everyone else with a vape in their mouth. Sucking on the warm, happy milk of Helena Frome’s urban dream. Complicated emotions were the reason Lucian wanted oblivion, more than anything else.
He would like nothing better than to die in the desert. Alone and undisturbed. The City had already won. It was becoming hard to recruit Off-Gridders. The latest generation of Citizens didn’t seem to want their privacy any more. They had become human convenience stores, happy to have the contents of their heads available to the Bureau at any time of day. Why was the Bureau bothering to send their Inspectors? To keep on winning. Hour after hour. He certainly wouldn’t give Icara Swansong the satisfaction of knowing anything about how he was feeling. Though she kept asking. What would be the use of telling her? It would probably simply confirm the outcome of the last failed psych-evaluation.
He imagined the report she would write. Lucian Ffogg is going mad. He thinks the Bureau is a nest of conspirators.
Lucian was getting ready for his second processing shift. He watched her as she performed a digital survey of the buildings. What did the length of the guttering matter, for the sake of Scientifically Proven God! Who ever heard of needing guttering in the desert anyway? It was absurd. He could feel her pity him.
She’s pitying me because of the state of the guttering…
It was a look he usually didn’t have to endure because he had isolated himself so completely in his desert compound. And so much the better. This is why he could not abide other people. Pity was the worst of the emotions. It meant: ‘I know I’m better than you.’ It was the look he remembered getting from his mother’s friends, when he still wandered around the City disgraced, before he had fled to the glorious indifference of the desert, and Gurk’s deep-fried cooking.
He continued to watch the Inspector from a distance as he walked across the Lot.
‘You just wait and see,’ he whispered, ‘just wait and see what you become.’
Icara looked up from her crouched position, taking a soil sample. She had not heard him.
‘It’s not going to be vanilla-scented, that much is for sure. But you probably won’t notice because you’ll be up to your eyeballs in Government Issue Tranquelle. So you’ll feel like a candy bar with a gooey chocolate centre. But it won’t be real. Do you hear me?’
The Magic of Wor(l)ds