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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

URI professor’s science fiction novel
inspired by committee work

KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 27, 2003 -- Daniel Pearlman’s first science fiction novel and latest book, Memini, about a century-distant future in which the world is run by amnesiacs--was inspired by his colleagues in the English Department at the University of Rhode Island. Pearlman attended a departmental graduate committee in which no one, including the committee chair, could remember what happened at the prior meeting.

Pearlman, a resident of the East Side of Providence, began to speculate. What would this world come to if people lacked memory? What if the world’s population became global amnesiacs?

The result is Memini, published by Prime Books, and available directly from Prime (e-mail: saw@neo.rr.com). Memini (Latin for "to remember") tells a Swiftian tale about a world divided into "tekkies" and "oldfolks." Although small in number, the minority tekkie elite owe their political and economic power to smart pills, which increase their capacity for manipulating data, but gradually destroy their personal memories.

"It’s a Faustian bargain," comments Pearlman, noting that while tekkie efficiency, due to the smart pill, enhances capitalist hegemony, the governing tekkie elite sacrifices its sense of Self—its very soul.
On the other hand, the oldfolks shun the pill and refuse to give up their sense of tradition, history, and morality.

Lester Barton, the CEO of Memini, one of the three "conglobulates" contending for world domination, is chronologically in his forties, but believes he is still a high school senior and living inside a video game that he must outwit to graduate. Meminet, a computer personality that manages the managers of Memini, must race to keep the unhinged executive from triggering the meltdown of Antarctica and destroying civilization. "Meminet," says the author, "has a mind of its own, but unlike Hal (the computer of 2001: A Space Odyssey), Meminet is very wise and very shrewd."

URI’s English professor tosses carefully crafted characters into the mix: one impersonates a tekkie, another is an art director whose sexuality becomes crucial to the plot, then there’s a loved-crazed criminal, and finally a mysterious femme fatale.

Memini is light with dark undertones. It’s funny and sad and philosophic and erotic. "The eroticism is not just fortuitous. It has a thematic purpose," Pearlman says. "Without memory, crossing of boundaries would become commonplace."

Memory, then, is the glue that holds the world together and makes it civilized. "A society without memory is a society without sustaining moral values," the author says.

Pearlman teaches creative writing at URI. His ironical/fantastical stories and novellas began appearing in 1988 in magazines and anthologies such as Amazing Stories, The Silver Web, and New England Review. His books of fiction to date are The Final Dream and Other Fictions, Black Flames, and The Best-Known Man in the World & Other Misfits. His work has received outstanding reviews in periodicals such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The Washington Post.


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Page last revised Monday, October 27, 2003 .