Snow • 1985 • SF short story by John Crowley


Synopsis:  Rich people afford the luxury of self-surveillance drones recording their lifes for the afterworld. Georgie has a very happy life, enjoying it with her lover Charlie, who happens to be the narrator of this story.

Once, hung over in a New York hotel, watching a sudden snowfall out the immense window, she said to me, ‘Charlie, I’m going to die of fun.’

After her death, the 8000 hours of recordings are uploaded to a facility called the Park where the narrator replays a part of her life to overcome his grief. Due to the storage system, the recordings can only be accessed in a unpredictable, random access (which helps to keep clear the Park of lawyers). Slowly, the recordings degrade in quality, and video snow noise intercepts. The narrator meditates about involuntary memory.

Review: There are not many authors with Crowley’s tranquil prose – maybe Ursula K. Le Guin – who relax me while keeping me interested. This was the case with Crowley’s excellent novel Little, Big and is the same with this short story. In an interesting interview from 2011 Crowley linked the story to Orpheus and Eurydike paralleling Greeks’ myths about dealing with the dead. I found his idea that the occasional, non-conscious memories of a person (similar to the random access) are positive and important to be intriguing:

There is no access to Georgie, except that now and then, unpredictably, when I’m sitting on the porch or pushing a grocery cart or standing at the sink, a memory of that kind will visit me, vivid and startling, like a hypnotist’s snap of fingers. Or like that funny experience you sometimes have, on the point of sleep, of hearing your name called softly and distinctly by someone who is not there.

Meta: isfdb. Lightspeed Magazine has a free reprint online.

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