"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Citadel 1.1-1.2: Memories and Questions

Saw the first two episodes of Citadel on Amazon Prime Video -- all that are available this week.  Very good, recommended, and --

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

The key ingredient in this series so far is: memory.  Or, more precisely, memories.  We see in the first episode that the memories of Citadel agents can be remotely erased.  (So, obviously, this takes place in the future.)  This erasure makes lots of sense if you're part of an international organization of good spies (Citadel) at war with an international organization of evil spies (Manticore), because if the bad guys capture you, your top-secret information can't be tortured out of you or otherwise taken.  And then we learn in the second episode that Citadel uploads and stores all the memories of their agents, and keeps them in vials which, when injected into their bodies, brings back the memories of the agent that were previously erased.  This makes lots of sense, too.

It also raises lots of questions, which may or may not be explored in the episodes ahead.  For example, if Agent X's memories are injected into Agent Y, or any other human being, will that recipient suddenly have Agent X's memories?  Or what happens if one person is injected with two or more sets of memories from other people?  Could there be a sage somewhere with a whole collection of memories from agents gone and still present?

But the story is just beginning, so we'll just have to see.  What we do know, by the end of the second episode, is that Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh's memories were at first erased, but only Nadia has recovered hers because, well, it looks like the vial with Mason's memories was damaged and some of the vital fluid leaked out when the bad guys attacked him and Bernard (see below), but who knows, which is to say, I don't really know, because maybe there's still enough of that fluid left in the vial for Mason to at some point recover his memories?  In other words, can just a droplet of memory be cultured to yield someone's full set of lost memories?

Which raises another question: is there any other way that lost memories can be recovered?  Mason and Sinh both seem to have bits in their heads of who they were, which come to them in brief flashes and dreams (which I assume are longer than the flashes, who knows).  And while we're at it, can memories in vials or otherwise be copied of cloned, so that we could actually have two Masons and two Nadias running around?  And/or, can memories be edited, so that only some of the memories can be edited?  And depending on how advanced this memory tech is, could new memories be created in the storage unit, so that when they were injected into the person, they had memories they didn't have in the first place?

Bernard (always good to see Stanley Tucci on the screen), who was in charge of Mason and Nadia before they lost their memories, and apparently still is, would likely know the answers to at least some of these questions.  But he has been wounded and captured by Manticore.  And, also, I'm not clear if he is the ultimate head of Citadel, or just Mason and Nadia's superior.

Anyway, lots to discover in this high octane, fast-moving futuristic spy series, and I'm all in, even if, as you may no doubt already know, I'm grumbling that it's being doled out to us on a less than bingeable basis.


If you like science fiction about memory on the screen, check out RemembranceRememory, and Mnemophrenia.

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