Feelings and memories can be the same thing. As we grow older, our feelings are the reason we hold onto memories. Sometimes we can’t remember an event, but we remember the feelings attached to it instead.
But what if you had a different kind of brain? A brain that experienced all events at once, or wasn’t stuck on a linear path through time? What if you had … an alien brain?
Science fiction and fantasy break the rules of our universe, or at least bend them, enabling us to experience time and memory as a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, touchy-feely stuff, and that can make for some amazing love stories.
Think about it: How does a love story work when one partner is stationary in time and the other is constantly moving around in time? How might we feel about our partner if we knew exactly what life event was about to happen next? What if our memory encompassed every possible choice and we could see the effect of every choice we ever made on our relationships?
The possibilities make for some incredible love stories. If you’re a sucker for a love story but also love science fiction and magic, read on for three beautiful, intimate stories — a best-seller, a translation, and a soon-to-be released novella — that explore love, time and memory.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:
This novel is probably the best-known time travel love story right now.
Clare, the titular wife, has been with her husband since she was 20, but she’s known him her whole life, because Henry has Chrono Displacement Disorder — sometimes he suddenly travels backward or forward in time, without being able to control it. His disorder has been transporting him to his own past, but also to his wife’s childhood, so that she has already met him when she meets him as an adult. This novel explores their relationship through both their eyes, and also the stresses both of them face.
Memory by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría, translated by Lawrence Schimel: What if your true love remembered your entire relationship before it began, or before you were even born? In this book, Jebediah, a small boy growing up in a poor community on Mars, meets and is fascinated with Ajax, a”native,” a genetically-engineered human being, one of several created to terraform the planet for humans 300 years earlier. Memory works differently for Ajax, who recognizes Jebediah because he has already seen and remembered their entire life together. The book follows Jebediah as he grows up, falls in love with Ajax and they begin a revolution and a family. It’s beautiful, and imaginative, although I won’t lie: the darker parts of the relationship (an emotionally-scarred 300-year-old’s manipulation of a poverty-stricken child, for example, and later, his manipulation of Jebediah and their wife) are deeply unsettling. It’s an amazing book and worth a read.
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (October 2016): Sometimes one major decision affects and defines our entire life. This novella, written by Kai Ashante Wilson, the same author who wrote last year’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, explores that choice.
The novella is set in the same universe, and explores an intense 10-day romance between Aquib, the son of a nobleman, and Lucrio, a visiting soldier. At the end of the 10 days, Aquib has a choice to make. This novel explores the consequences of that choice over the course of the rest of his life. It’s a short book, but a dense one that feels much longer than its 160 pages.