How It Was When the Past Went Away

by Robert Silverberg


Publication history


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A loony with a bunch of nifty drugs puts amnesifacients in San Francisco's water supply. The city starts to fall apart as people forget who they are, who they're married to, where they work. The drug effects everyone a little differently, with different memories lost to differing degrees. The story is told in true disaster-movie tradition, with a multitude of characters from different walks of life followed through the crisis. There's the artist so in debt he can't afford the tools of his trade, but doesn't remember his monetary problems or that his wife left him. There's the crooked stock broker with millions worth of illicit transactions kept only in his head. There's the grieving man who lost his family in a plane crash. There's the nightclub performer whose act is that he remembers everything. Quite a fun story, and if some of the practical aspects of such a social catastrophe are glossed over, many of the personal and emotional aspects are handled very well.

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