By M. G. Vassanji
Nostalgia marks a refreshing change of pace for M. G. Vassanji, one of Canada’s most celebrated authors but not someone known for writing science fiction.
Frank Sina is a “memory doctor” living in a future Toronto. The human species has finally achieved a kind of immortality, but because long life leads to a build-up of too much information in our heads we have to be periodically re-born with new identities. This is easily accomplished, but there is a sort of palimpsest effect in our brains where memories can’t be fully overwritten, leading to something called “leaked memory syndrome” or Nostalgia.
When a patient suffering from this partial recall comes to Dr. Sina for treatment it sets in motion a plot drawn from the paranoid fantasies of Philip K. Dick. It seems that leaked memories of a previous existence can become a threat to our sense of reality, our lives being fictions engineered, not always with our consent, by some mysterious author.
All of this introduces a complex political and psychological allegory that draws parallels between the different ways civilization maintains control over disruptive forces coming from without and deep within.