"Forest of Memory" - Book Review

I've read the first two of Mary Robinette Kowal's "The Glamourist Histories" books. I quite enjoyed Shades of Milk and Honey (the first in that series and her first published book): she did a fine job riffing on Jane Austen's style and settings, and bringing magic into that world. It was a good book that didn't need a sequel, but apparently the sequels were successful without my being interested in them - imagine that. Recently I found out she'd written a science fiction novel about memory in the age of perpetual connection, I was immediately interested because she's a good writer with interesting ideas. (This isn't strictly a novel: it's published in book form, but is only about 15,000 words / 75 pages of text, making it what the Hugo awards call a "novella.")

The book finds antiquities dealer Katya Gould typing on a 1913 typewriter about her bike ride in the woods. The typewriter thing is one of the conceits of the book: there are typos throughout, and the occasional cross-out. The exact date is never established, but the antiquities she deals in would seem to indicate that our time is perhaps 50 years behind them. She often records huge chunks of her life and uploads it to the cloud as she goes. This is so common that it's a horrible shock to her when she becomes disconnected in the woods - that NEVER happens. A man shoots some deer in her sight (in itself an unusual and improper act) and then kidnaps her. But she cannot record, she has to remember it for herself. And no one is going to believe her because there's no recording.

She survives to type the story on the antiquity she was transporting at the time, although she never actually determines what the man was doing or why she was kidnapped. But she speculates a bit, and it's somewhat alarming.

The book made me think a bit about what it would be like to live when recording of everything is very common, and about the mutability of memory. But these are both subjects I've thought about before (which is why I was interested in the book), and while she did a decent job, it certainly wasn't ground-breaking.