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REVIEW: Remember Me, Synthetica – K. Aten

Remember Me, Synthetica - K. Aten

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, AI, Nanotech

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Reviewer: Devon

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About The Book

What happens when a woman loses her memory but gains a conscience?

Dr. Alexandra Turing is a roboticist whose intellect is unrivaled in the field of artificial intelligence. While science has always come easy, Alexandra struggles to understand emotional cues and responses. Driven by the legacy of her late great-uncle, she dedicates her life to the Synthetica project at her father’s company, Organic Advancement Solutions (OAS).​

Her life is rebooted when she wakes from a coma, six months after being struck by a car. Traumatic brain injury altered Alex’s senses, her memory, and her personality. Despite the changes, she feels reborn as she navigates her way back into her old life. Part of her new journey includes dating the alluring Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Emily St. John.

Emily is enamored with the hyper-intelligent scientist, but there are things about Alex and OAS that don’t add up. With Emily’s prompting, Alex undergoes testing that leaves her with more questions than answers. What she discovers changes more than her life, it will change the world around her.

Remember Me, Synthetica is not a mystery. It’s the story of one woman’s path of self-discovery.

Winner of the 2020 Lesfic Bard Award for best Science Fiction

The Review

In 1950, Alan Turing proposed a method for evaluating whether a machine exhibited intelligence indistinguishable from that of a human: the Turing Test. Although several chatbots have essentially “passed” the Turing Test through text-based conversations, no current AI system can truly be said to think and react as a human. However, in K. Aten’s Remember Me, Synthetica, roboticist Alexandra Turing, none other than the great-niece of Alan Turing himself, is poised to accomplish just that.

If successful, her Synthetica project will result in a robot that is indistinguishable from a human in terms of behavior and appearance. Unfortunately, before she can complete her project, Alexandra suffers a catastrophic accident.

Six months later, she wakes up from a coma with a brain injury that leaves her with partial amnesia. Although she’s still the same brilliant scientist as before, Alexandra can only recall bits and pieces of her former life, leaving her feeling like an entirely different person. In fact, her personality has changed so much that she isn’t quite convinced she wants to be the same Alexandra anymore. Taking on the nickname “Alex,” Dr. Turing begins piecing her life back together. Of course, that isn’t easy when her doctors, colleagues, and even closest friend, Falguni, behave in secretive ways. Can Alex get her research—and her life—back on track when nothing in her world seems to fully make sense?

Remember Me, Synthetica was a bit outside my typical reading zone—I tend to gravitate toward more far-future sci-fi stories while Alex’s world feels more or less like our own, just with a few more scientific advancements that make her research possible. However, I’m really glad I decided to step out of my reading “comfort zone” and give this novel a try because Remember Me, Synthetica has a lot to love.

First of all, I found Alex to be a really interesting character. Imagine waking up one day with only fuzzy memories of your past and, as the memories slowly come into focus, realizing that you don’t actually want to be the person you were before. Alexandra and Alex both have a fair amount in common, like their scientific brilliance and the way they both process the world through the lens of their research specialities. However, while Alexandra seems to have been a bit cold and preferred to keep her colleagues, and even friends, at a distance, Alex is warm and enjoys forming connections with others.

The book raises some interesting questions about what exactly makes you you. Is it your mind? Your memories? Your personality? And what happens if one or more of those aspects changes? It’s a lot of fun to follow along on Alex’s journey of self-discovery, especially since the quirks of her amnesia mean that she gets to rediscover some of life’s simple pleasures like the smell and taste of coffee, the softness of a kitten’s fur, and, of course, the thrill of kissing a pretty woman.

I liked that Alex’s love interest, Emily, was such a strong source of support throughout the novel. While all of the other people in Alex’s life are clearly withholding information from her, Emily is ready to do whatever it takes to help. She’s also a great character in her own right—a successful veterinarian who is kind, smart, funny, and beautiful.

I also really liked that the romance in this novel was between two approximately forty-year-old women. Not enough books even have female characters in this age range—let alone ones who get to be sexy and charming and radiant. I also thought that having Alan Turing’s great-niece get to fully enjoy her sapphic romance was a nice tribute. There isn’t any petty relationship drama in this novel, which was very refreshing.

As for the other supporting characters, most of them could be a bit frustrating because it was clear they were holding things back from Alex, and, by extension, the reader. However, I did like Fal and Alex’s father, and it was nice to see them change from slightly wary of Alex to caring and protective of her.

The pacing of this novel was fairly slow to start out. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though because it gives plenty of time for fun and funny moments, especially as Alex rediscovers the world. However, the pacing really ramps up in the last few chapters so there is also plenty of excitement to be had, especially as Alex begins to take matters into her own extremely capable hands. Most readers will probably guess the novel’s “big reveal” fairly early on, but watching the later events play out is still extremely satisfying. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, especially because Alex is a scientist (like me!) so it was so much fun to get into her geeky mindset. Some readers might get a bit bogged down in the research descriptions and scientific details, but I think they’re woven into the text well enough to maintain flow. It’s also clear that K. Aten has done a lot of research to make the research descriptions sound plausible while also sci-fi-level cool.

The Reviewer

Devon Widmer is a grumpy scientist by day, a scribbling daydreamer by night, and a sleep-deprived parent full-time. She recently graduated with a PhD in Chemistry, a degree which she plans to put to good use reading and writing a multitude of science fiction (and fantasy) stories. Devon’s talents include drinking copious amounts of coffee, forgetting where she set her glasses, and laughing at her own jokes. Also, although she often describes herself as grumpy, she promises she’s actually quite nice!

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