The city of iRemember shimmers in the desert haze, watched over by the Bureau, a government agency that maintains control through memory surveillance and little pink pills made from the narcotic plant Tranquelle.
It looks like an oasis under its geodesic dome, but the city is under siege. ‘Off-Gridder’ insurgents are fighting to be forgotten.
Bureau Inspector Icara Swansong is on a mission to neutralise the threat. Her investigation leads her into iRemember’s secret underbelly, where she finds herself a fugitive from the very system she had vowed to protect. She has to learn new rules: trust no one. Behind every purple Tranquelle stalk lurk double-agents.
A sci-fi noir with a psychedelic twist, iRemember explores the power the past holds over us and the fragility of everything: what is, what once was, and what will be.
For a limited time, iRemember will be available for only 99p.
GUEST POST FROM THE AUTHOR!
E- is for eco-publishing? Climate change in iRemember
As well as being about memory, iRemember is a book about why we remember: in response to the fragility of ourselves and our worlds. iRemember is a fragile place indeed. The citizens of the book’s fictional city-state live in a geodesic dome surrounded by encroaching deserts and poisonous air. Water is at a premium. And the dome is a thin tissue of safety between people and the elements they’ve angered. A typical sci-fi society, then, a society on the edge. But there’s another element to it. Paper. Paper is so scarce that it forms the basis of the state’s entire religious belief system. Newspapers and books are so rare, they come in limited print-runs, with serial numbers and the stamp of approval of the Temple. The Code, the rule book of the Bureau, the government agency presiding over iRemember is, on the other hand, readily available as an e-book, on tablets and on the iRemember network.
Climate change is therefore central to the narrative of iRemember; as is the e-book versus paper book debate. iRemember has been published and marketed as one of five Lightning Bolts, a collection of digital-first books from Lightning Books. I wasn’t always a staunch supporter of e-books. But I care deeply about my own climate impact and have been thinking about the climate impact of everything I do. Including writing. This informed my choice to go digital-first. So, taking my own publishing journey as an example, I’ve made a case for e-book publishing as eco-publishing.
That is certainly not to say that e-books are always eco-friendlier than paper books. As Mike Berners-Lee reminds us in his ‘How Bad Are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything’ (an excellent book that I think everyone should read – after they’ve read iRemember), the embodied carbon in an e-reader means that it only becomes carbon neutral once you’ve read about a hundred books on it. I’m also yet to see an e-reader not made of plastic, which brings with it a whole other set of climate concerns. Having said that, there are definitely eco-arguments to be made for e-book publishing.
Writers have to be voracious readers. Before I wrote iRemember I read hundreds of books about memory and cities. Books about neuroscience and fictional books about the future. Most of these were on my e-reader. I’m confident that my chosen brand of e-reader has paid for itself in carbon terms many times over. And I make further significant carbon savings by buying e-books: as these are delivered digitally, there are no transport-related carbon costs. Moving hefty tomes along a transport network emits serious amounts of carbon.
Owning an e-reader has allowed me to make other climate-conscious decisions. I don’t need as much space for all my books so I can live in a small, and relatively carbon-efficient studio in London. And rather than having thousands of paper books that might end up in land-fill if I ever get hit by a (hopefully hybrid) bus, my personal library is nothing more than an ephemeral concept, a cloud of zeros and ones. I also don’t have to hire a large convoy of emission-spewing vans to transport my books if I move. I can walk them to my new place with me. Lastly, I wouldn’t even know about carbon footprints, if I hadn’t purchased Berners-Lee’s book and read it on my e-reader.
The approach Lightning Books took to publishing iRemember, was refreshingly climate conscious. Virtual meetings and a virtual book tour have replaced potentially carbon intensive physical meetings and potentially wasteful book launch parties. As I’ve become more and more panicked about the state of our earth, this is one less thing to feel guilty about. It is something to celebrate.
It’s not a huge stretch to see our own world in the dystopia of iRemember. But there is a hopeful message at the heart of the book: while the City cannot seem to quench its thirst for natural resources, the Off-Gridder resistance has learned to live in harmony with its hostile desert environment. To be flexible and creative to thrive in a changing world. In our own small way, authors like me, and publishers like Lightning Books, are doing the same. And if you do happen to buy iRemember, while patting yourself on the back for being green you should also give yourself a hug for supporting a new voice and an indie publisher. Happy e-reading.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SV Bekvalac was born in 1987 in Croatia, in what was then Yugoslavia, but grew up in London.
She studied German and Russian at Oxford, and went to film school in Prague. After almost becoming a film-maker and then an academic, researching cities and films, she found herself writing fiction about cities instead. She started off with screenplays and short stories, but they got longer and longer. iRremember is her first novel.
She has lived in cities all over Europe. Now she lives in London, or in one of her own imaginary cities.