EP055: Down Memory Lane

By Mike Resnick.
Read by Alex Wilson (of Telltale Weekly).
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Mike Resnick.
All stories read by Alex Wilson.

I don’t know where I was when Kennedy was shot. I don’t know what I was doing when the World Trade Center collapsed under the onslaught of two jetliners. But I remember every single detail, every minute, every second, of the day we got the bad news.

“It may not be Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. Castleman. “Alzheimer’s is becoming a catchword for a variety of senile dementias. Eventually we’ll find out exactly which dementia it is, but there’s no question that Gwendolyn is suffering from one of them.”

Rated G.

Referenced sites:
2006 Hugo Nominees
World Science Fiction Convention
L.A.Con IV
TellTale Weekly — Clarion Foundation Fundraiser
Hooting Yard Benevolent Fund for Distressed Out of Print Pamphleteers

Comments (31)

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  1. Rick says:

    Kinda sad story, very well written but sad. My question, I listened again and still can’t figure out the “SciFi/Fantasy” part of it except that the man was “given Alzheimer’s.”

  2. Lar says:

    I puzzled over this too. The only thing I could come up with is that medicine is a “science” and this is “medical fiction” so by the transitive property of equality this is “science fiction”.

    Great story, label not withstanding.

  3. Ralph says:

    In addition to the medical experiment at the lab in Guatamala, which is science and fiction, I think that the reputation of the author is a factor that pigeon-holes the story as sci-fi. If it had been written by someone else, it might not get that label. . .

    ‘ Reminds me of Flowers for Algernon, which I read in Jr High English. Good Story. I don’t think it would have been as good with a happy ending.

    I get the sense that the storyteller wanted to make a contribution to curing his wife’s disease, knowing that if the cure the lab was trying to develop did not work, at least he’d be able to share her experience with her and YOUNG together.

  4. asdf says:

    About five minutes in I was wondering what it had to do with sci-fi, and then fifteen minutes in I no longer cared.

    The story was amazing, and written with such passion and authenticity that I was nearly convinced the author had experienced it himself. Even better was Alex Wilson’s reading–had I merely read the story instead of hearing it, I probably wouldn’t have teared up like I did (same with Craphound). Wilson’s reading genuinely sounded like an old man, and his passion was portrayed exceedingly well. The whole story had an undertone of utter hopelessness that reading it in text wouldn’t have ever equaled.

    Despite my uncertainties about it at first, this is one of my favorites so far. Keep it up.

  5. WOW! What a great story! And a great reading by Alex Wilson. You have a very nice voice. This story leaves you thinking afterwards. A very sad tale, but oh my what a strong love the man felt for his wife. Amazing!

  6. dk says:

    First story in ages to bring a tear to my eye which is kinda embarrassing during rush hour on the London Underground. Great story though, even if not Sci Fi. Thank you.

  7. JM Campbell says:

    Great Read, great story. But I could’ve used a warning it was such a heartwrencher. I was literally tearing up at points while driving to University.
    Especially since I’m recently married, I look forward to a long and great relationship, but even thoughts like this frighten the hell out of me about the future.

  8. Tim says:

    This is the best story you’ve run, and I thought nothing could beat “Burning Bush”.

    I had to fight off tears. It’s not good for dad to cry at your kids baseball practice.

  9. Jeremiah says:

    Wonderful story, light on the sci-fi, but I’m okay with that. I cried, and it effected my driving. I cried, and it made me call my wife. I cried, and this story will stay with me.

    Thanks for the great story, and the great reading.

  10. Alex Wilson says:

    Thanks everybody!

  11. Mitch says:

    Most excellent story, and incredible reading. It was read in a tone that was underplayed enough to focus on the story, not the narriator.

    I had to sit in my truck for a while to compose myself before returning to work. (Lunch break) There’s been maybe 2 or 3 movies in my life that brought me to tears- and now add 1 podcast.

    Best podcast yet from Escape Pod!


  12. Mike Resnick says:

    Enough time has passed since the above comments (the ones that wonder where the science went) that I hope this will be seen as an explanation and not a defense, because I don’t think my approach to writing needs a defense.

    I am not a futurologist; I am not a scientist; I am a fiction writer. My stories happen to be imaginative, and are often set on other worlds or in future eras, but I think the people I write about are much more important and interesting — to me, anyway — than the science and technology I don’t write about.

    For the record, I’ve won 5 Hugo awards, and also for the record, 4 of them had less science in them than “Down Memory Lane.” I suppose every writer writes about what’s important to him; now you know what’s important to me.

  13. deflective says:

    Congrats on the movie deal!

    This new approach to media & entertainment is exciting to watch. Barriers between storyteller and audience dissolving under a free distribution catalyst.

  14. Rob W says:

    I was especially affected by this story because I look after my wife who was disabled in a car accident. Fortunately she was not mentally impaired (though all of the medication that she is on leaves her a little loopy at times) but a lot of the feeling of helplessness, anger and frustration definitely paralleled my personal experiences.

    I am not ashamed to say that I broke down and bawled like a baby after reading this story. I walked in to hug my wife – who was freaking out and thinking that something horrible had happened (I’m not much of a cryer as a rule)- and held her close and talked about the story for a while. We both fear that this is a possibility in the future, especially her because she wouldn’t be able to care for me if I was affected. Here’s hoping that a cure comes around before either of us need it.

    Thankyou Mike for a wonderful story. It kicked my arse and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  15. Lack of “spec element” notwithstanding, this story grabbed me. I’ll remember it unless I get Alzheimer’s.

  16. [...] ‚ÄúDown Memory Lane‚Äù de Mike Resnick, ‚ÄúThe Clockwork Atom Bomb‚Äù de Dominic Green, ‚ÄúTk’tk’tk‚Äù de David D. Levin y ‚ÄúSeventy-Five Years‚Äù de Michael A. Burstein siguieron sus pasos ofreciendo sus textos en formato audio. [...]

  17. Nate Friedman says:

    while bartaby in exile *ALMOST* had me tearing up, this story turned on the waterworks for me. i’ve shed at most 1 tear for a few movies (strangely, that includes starwars III) but nothing like that. very good production!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this great story. I still listen to it about once a month, and still cry every time I hear it.

  19. [...] Escapepod –µ –Ω–∞–π-–¥–æ–±—Ä–∏—è—Ç –ø–æ–¥–∫–∞—Å—Ç –Ω–∞ –ª–∏—Ç–µ—Ä–∞—Ç—É—Ä–Ω–∞ —Ç–µ–º–∞, –Ω–∞ –∫–æ–π—Ç–æ —Å—ä–º –ø–æ–ø–∞–¥–∞–ª–∞. –ò –µ–¥–∏–Ω—Å—Ç–≤–µ–Ω–∏—è—Ç, –∫–æ–π—Ç–æ —Ä–µ–¥–æ–≤–Ω–æ —Å–ª—É—à–∞–º. –í—Å–µ–∫–∏ –ø–æ–¥–∫–∞—Å—Ç —Å—ä–¥—ä—Ä–∂–∞ –µ–¥–∏–Ω —Ä–∞–∑–∫–∞–∑ –Ω–∞ —Ñ–∞–Ω—Ç–∞—Å—Ç–∏—á–Ω–∞ –∏–ª–∏ —Ñ–µ–Ω—Ç—ä–∑–∏ —Ç–µ–º–∞ –∏ –∏–∑–ª–∏–∑–∞ –≤–µ–¥–Ω—ä–∂ —Å–µ–¥–º–∏—á–Ω–æ. –ö–∞—á–µ—Å—Ç–≤–æ—Ç–æ –Ω–∞ –∑–≤—É–∫–∞ –µ –º–Ω–æ–≥–æ –¥–æ–±—Ä–æ, —á–µ—Ç—Ü–∏—Ç–µ —Å–µ —Å—Ç–∞—Ä–∞—è—Ç –∏ –∞–Ω–≥–ª–∏–π—Å–∫–∏—è—Ç –∏–º –µ —Ä–∞–∑–±–∏—Ä–∞–µ–º. –ú–Ω–æ–≥–æ —Ä—è–¥–∫–æ –ø–æ–ø–∞–¥–∞–º –Ω–∞ —Ä–∞–∑–∫–∞–∑, –∫–æ–π—Ç–æ –¥–∞ –Ω–µ –º–∏ –¥–æ–ø–∞–¥–Ω–µ. –ù–∞–π-–ª—é–±–∏–º–∏—è—Ç –º–∏ –µ Down Memory Lane –Ω–∞ –ú–∞–π–∫ –†–µ–∑–Ω–∏–∫. –ê Pseudopod –µ ‘—Å–µ—Å—Ç—Ä–∞—Ç–∞’ –Ω–∞ Escapepod, –Ω–æ –Ω–∞ —Ö–æ—Ä—ä—Ä —Ç–µ–º–∞—Ç–∏–∫–∞. –ú–∞–ª–∫–æ —Å—Ç—Ä–∞—à–Ω–∏—á–∫–∏ –∏ –¥–µ–ø—Ä–µ—Å–∞—Ä—Å–∫–∏ –º–∏ –∏–¥–≤–∞—Ç –ø–æ–≤–µ—á–µ—Ç–æ —Ä–∞–∑–∫–∞–∑–∏ —Ç–∞–º, –Ω–æ –∏ —Ç–µ —Å–∏ –∑–∞—Å–ª—É–∂–∞–≤–∞—Ç. [...]

  20. S. A. Labay says:

    Just caught this on the “rerun” on Escape Pod Classic,” and like so many others, it brought tears to my eyes, not just for the characters in the story, but also out of fear. I drive a truck for a living (I used to haul gasoline), so I’ve had a pretty vivid imagination about possible ways that fate will finally take my life (and I’ve lost friends and coworkers to just that vivid haz-mat fate, unfortunately).

    However, like most sci-fi fans I know, I consider myself a thinker. No matter how many ways I have thought it possible to die (and don’t try psychoanalyzing me here), this is the way I fear the most. Of course, like the characters in the story, when the time comes, I’ll never realize it, but losing the memories and the thinking scares the hell out of me. “Science” or not, this was definately a story that made me think, and that is what I listen to Sci-Fi for.

    Thank you Steve (and everyone else responsible for Escape Pod) for helping the miles go by a little more quickly. Keep up the great work!

  21. Dan the Man says:

    Regarding Sigler’s run for “Sci Fi” channel placement, I’ve also thought that it would be a good fit for a Sci-Fi Channel original, but for reasons that are less flattering. The story devolved (pun intended) into a “monster chase,” which is the kind of movie the “Sci Fi” [quotation marks meant to be sarcastic] channel tends to make.

  22. Dan the Man says:

    whoops, I meant to attach that to a different episode.

  23. scatterbrain says:

    The story was excellent, but I couldn’t see the speculative element.

  24. Norm says:

    Yeah, have to agree with many of you: Where’s the sci-fi / fantasy element?
    Usually I love Resnick’s work, but this fell a little flat for me: seemed mostly like long exposition, the ending was cool, but small payoff for a boring beginning. Kudos to the reader, the slow reading ticked me off at first, but then I realized it did help set the mood and the forgetfulness at the end just drove it home.

  25. araña says:

    regardless of the decidedly “un sf”
    nature of this story (and the fact that while listening i kept waiting for aliens and automatons to crop up), it really hit home. Sir Resnick, you are a fantastic author, my favorite featured here in fact, and your stories, your fiction..your masterpieces never cease to make me think.

  26. Kapitano says:

    Mike Resnick, Philip K Dick, JG Ballard – three highly respected authors who get categorised as SF because no one knows what else to call it.

    The antidote (“anecdote”) was a red herring – presumably put there to mislead readers (listeners) into expected a different ending.

    The notebook idea obviously doesn’t stand up to a moment’s thought – the protagonist wouldn’t have remembered to keep writing in it. Okay, so it involves suspension of disbelief, but why suspend your disbelief in a plot device that isn’t actually necessary to the plot? It could have worked just as well as an internal monologue.

    As for the ending…like our host, I can’t decide.

  27. [...] can also listen to “Memory Lane” being read at Escape Pod. VN:F [1.7.5_995]please wait…Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast) Read the [...]