Birthday Reviews: Lavie Tidhar’s “The Memcordist”

Birthday Reviews: Lavie Tidhar’s “The Memcordist”

Cover by Michael Whelan
Cover by Michael Whelan

Lavie Tidhar was born on November 16, 1976 in Afula, Israel.

Tidhar received the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 2012 for Osama and that same year won the British Fantasy Award for the novella Gorel and the Pot Bellied God. In 2013 the British SF Association Award for Nonfiction was given to Tidhar’s The World SF Blog. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2017 for the novel Central Station. Tidhar has collaborated with Nir Yaniv as an author, and with Rebecca Levene and Jason Sizemore as an editor.

Tidhar first published “The Memcordist” in Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse Online in the December 24, 2012 issue. Gardner Dozois selected the story to be reprinted in his 2013 anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection. It has not otherwise been reprinted.

Pym lives a Truman Show sort of life in “The Memcordist.” His entire life is spent being recording and sent out to his followers in the ultimate combination of reality show and social media. The difference between Pym and Truman is that Pym is well aware of his followers, noting their number at every major point of his life. Pym is also aware of narrative, things that are expected of him, and he also expects that his storylines will come to a fruitful conclusion.

Aside from gaining and keeping followers as he travels throughout the heavily populated solar system, which is reminiscent of Golden Age space opera with Human colonies on Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, and Pluto’s moons, the driving force in Pym’s life is his need to re-connect with Joy, a woman he met on one of his early space flights whose goal was to become a pilot. It is an on-again-off-again quest, but much of the story, which is told in a series of achronological snippets set in a variety of locations, focuses on the quest, even while implying numerous other relationships and adventures. Pym does note that his numbers go up when he is searching for Joy, although he views his search as personal rather than part of his overarching narrative.

The story offers a look at someone who is trying to live a very public life, as many do these days with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media apps, while still acknowledging that they have their own private needs. Pym doesn’t quite have to balance the two halves of his life, but his private life does often find itself put on hold while he focuses his attention on the publicly necessary narrative. Originally published in 2012, the story is still pertinent, but the world of social media has become so much more pervasive in the intervening years, an update would be intriguing.

Reprint reviewed in the anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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