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The Backbone of Memory

The Backbone of Memory


AUTHOR'S NOTE This e-book contains four of the twelve stories from A Espinha Dorsal da Memória, my collection which was awarded the "Prêmio Caminho de Ficção Científica" in Portugal, in 1989. Not all the stories from that book have been translated into English, and the present electronic edition is meant as a sample of the original book. I hope that several friends of mine who cannot read in Portuguese will find here some material of interest. These are old stories, by chronological time, but I think that a story still unread is a story new. Haunted may not be a story properly; some people would call it a fragment. Anyway, I chose it to be the opening text for the book, because it sets a tone, it evokes a mood of nocturnal disquietude, it alludes to images of beasts and of metamorphoses which will produce echoes in other stories further on. Sympathy for the Devil was inspired by several discussions among members of Rio de Janeiro's "Science Fiction Readers Club" (CLFC) in which we debated how to concoct new variants of the old deal-with-the-Devil theme. I tried to give my version a psychological bent ("it's-all-inside-the-mind"), in an otherwise formulaic story. Stuntmind may be my most translated story (it has so far appeared in English, French and Russian) and I think it reflects my reading of the so-called New Wave authors, back in the 1980s. Anyway, its most immediate inspiration was Damon Knight's "Stranger Station" (1956), which gave me one basic idea. In 1991, I attended Clarion Workshop, and when I mentioned that influence to him, he was generous enough to say: "It is a story many times told". The Lightning-Mirror in the Eye of the Cyclone belongs, like Stuntmind, to the Intrusos series, a cycle of stories about mankind's contact with a powerful and elusive alien race. Enough background information is given in both stories so as to place them in context; they are standalone stories, and all they have in common is the presence of the unknowable Outsiders. These are stories written more than thirty years ago, and they are able to stand by themselves only because of my discussions with my CLFC friends, and the feedback I got from them. I myself translated all the stories, and in some cases I had precious tips and feedback from my Clarion colleagues. I am grateful to them all for their ideas and their critiques. Braulio Tavares