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Memory as the basis of social and individual identity in the story “Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind” by Philip José Farmer
Author’s biography
He is best known for his Riverworld series (which follows the adventures of diverse characters through a bizarre afterlife) and for the World of Tiers series (set within a number of parallel universes). His works often contain sexual themes: his short-story collection Strange Relations was a notable event in the history of sex in science fiction. But his work also sometimes contains religious themes: Jesus shows up in Riverworld series and in Jesus on Mars.
Essex House, publishers of pornography, commissioned Philip Farmer to write three erotic fantasy novels.
He received many awards. Some of them are:
1953 Hugo Award for most promising New Talent, for novella The Lovers
1968 Hugo Award for best novella, Riders of the Purple Wage
1972 Hugo Award for best novel, To Your Scattered Bodies Go
2001 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement
He was also nominated for Hugo and Nebula awards many times.
Plot
On June 1, 1980 the whole world awoke and started their daily duties thinking it would be the day same as every other. But it wasn’t at all. It was the day that changed their lives completely.
A panic, which would not stop for a long time, began slowly to spread through the people’s hearts. They began to realize how important the memory was for their normal lives. Without it, everybody was confused. The Ball caused people to sleep immediately, so there were hundreds of thousands of accidents. Planes crashed, ships sank, and many people were killed or injured. There were announcements on the TV begging people not to use phone except for emergencies, but people didn’t pay attention to it. In this part Farmer presented very well the situation of a panic when things can not be controlled. There were many fires, and the firemen couldn’t be informed of them because the lines were busy. The stock market crashed. Many thieves, who had been jailed for a while, had to be released because nobody remembered a thing about their case. There was a murder, a man was stabbed in the stomach, thirty people saw it, but nobody could remember anything. So they had a murderer walking the streets freely.
Carole was afraid to stay home alone, and Mark and she cried together. She was frightened, she felt like she would go crazy, so she took a sedative to calm down:
“Mark! Mark!” she said.
I took my finger off the starter button and said, “What is it?”
“I know you’ll think I’m crazy, Mark,” she said. “But I’m about to fall apart!”
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