When one person loses their memory it's amnesia. When an entire world loses it, it's Amnemosyne.
The World Without Memory
We all woke up the same way. The technical term is 'in media res' or in the middle of things. It was if the entire world decided to take a nap at the same time, and woke up later. When we lifted out heads to look around, we were empty. Our names were gone, who we were was gone. There were no names for anything. We knew basic things, we knew the names of things, the names of places. But when I woke, it was looking a window full or red sunlight, warm and bright. My face was mashed into a plate of cold food. I knew it was peas, and carrots, a Salisbury steak with mushroom and onion gravy.
It was disorienting, because I couldn't put words together for a while, and emotions ran through me, feelings I didn't know, didn't understand.
Amnemosyne is a world city, it cannot be 'left' because it has no edge, no part that is not part of the endless city. The city is old, and vast sections of it are reduced to rubble, and even the better parts show decades of neglect and wear. The stone is streaked with rust and damage from acidic rain, and metal is rusted and corroded, but for the most part, retains it's strength. There is abundant proof that Amnemosyne once had a vast bustling population. There are shells of factories, high rise sized apartment buildings, and an unknown amount of roads, bridges, and interchanges.
There's no one left in charge, because no one's left that can hold everything together. There's no military, and when military hardware shows up, it becomes something that's fought over. There are hundreds of baronies and villages, demi-states and other break downs of government. Sections are rules by robber barons and thugs, others are held by strongmen and councils, but the largest power is the Coterie. They hold substantial amounts of the few things that are truly valuable in Amnemosyne; money, memory cubes, and a chemical substance called Flashback.
Flashback is a synthetic neurostimulant that for a short amount of time stimulates the memory centers of the brain. It is short lived, and under it's effects the user is rendered catatonic. During this state they are given glimpses of their memories, typically broken fragments or vignettes from their pre-Amnemosyne lives. This also strongly stimulates the emotional and pleasure centers of the brain, leading to quick addiction. Possession and use of Flashback is among the few crimes left in Amnemosyne, and while it is publicly condemned, most residents have used it at some point, and most are not adverse to using it at any given time. It is a golden liquid typically distributed in glass ampoules. The top is snapped off and the liquid is quickly snorted through the nose. Some more wealthy are able to garner a sufficient amount to create a Flashback steam bath, but this is rare and sometimes lethal.
The Red Sun
The Sun rarely shines on Amnemosyne. It hides behind sheets of smoke and clouds. The sunsets and sunrises are spectacular, with rainbows of color, the sky turns to fire. The sun is poison, plants left out under it's light wither and die, and on days when the sun is bright most people stay indoors. Prolonged exposure causes severe burns, which in turn can rather easily become malignant and cancerous.
The Burning Truth:
The Red Sun of Amnemosyne is one of the reasons the world city is the way it is. The radiation it puts off quickly damages and breaks down plant matter, being able to deal a lethal dose in a few dozen minutes. For people, prolonged exposure is a matter of days. For the most part this is counterbalanced by the face that the burning red sun is usually blocked out by banks of clouds and chemical haze. Accordingly, most residents wear protective clothing, are predictably pale, and rely on machines to do things for them when the sun is out.
The star is bloated and in it's end phase. It has eruptions, spewing out gouts of blinding white fire. These eruptions interrupt power grids, can knock automatons offline, and for those unlucky enough to see them, blindness. The severe nature of the coronal mass ejections is even capable of causing damage to neurological systems and might be part of the cause of Amnemosyne's periodic memory loss.
The city is far from empty. The previous residents left behind automatons, robots, in great number. The people who know how to fix them can make good livings. The total number of automatons in Amnemosyne outnumber the humans by several factors, but the vast majority are suitable for not much more than salvage.
Entourage - these automatons are useful for social interaction and domestic tasks. They are not particularly tough nor are they very strong.
Soldier - fighting machines, these automatons are suited to combat, albeit light. They are not heavily armored, and must be armed with weapons.
Pets - resembling animals, these automatons seem to have taken the place of actual biological pets for the previous residents of Amnemosyne. There are large numbers of these machines, but most have been scrapped for internal components, leaving behind only discarded shells.
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? Responses (3)
Really cool. Amnesia city with addictive Flashback drugs, a sputtering red sun, and countless automatons. Love the atmosphere of this place. Great setting for a tale/game or three!
To me this is like one of Mr. Holiday's speedpaints. It suggests, hints and piques the imagination while being quite open. Of course it prompts more questions then it answers, but still, its awesome!
To me, this is a complete but you probably had higher aspirations for it in the first place. I've said it before, I'm not a fan of sci-fi and is in fact quite adverse to it but this piece is executed well and the idea of radiation causing mass amnesia is conveyed here in a snappy, plausible and non-mind-boggling way that I like. Still, not really comfortable to vote on this piece.