Amnesia Moon

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Amnesia Moon
Amnesiamooncvr.jpg
First edition cover
Author Jonathan Lethem
Cover artist Jacket design by Alexander Munn and Steven Cooley
Jacket illustration by Alexander Munn
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher Harcourt Brace & Co.
Publication date
September 1995
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 247 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 0-15-100091-3 (first edition, hardcover)
OCLC 32012520
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3562.E8544 A8 1995
Preceded by Gun, with Occasional Music
Followed by The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye

Amnesia Moon is a 1995 novel by Jonathan Lethem. Lethem adapted the novel from several unpublished short stories he had written, all about catastrophic, apocalyptic events. In finished form Amnesia Moon bears homage to Philip K. Dick. In fact, during a party scene, one guest describes a battle of wills in West Marin, clearly a reference to Dick's Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb. One character even cites a West Marin inhabitant named "Hoppington", evocative of the mutant telepath Hoppy Harrington in the latter book.

Plot[edit]

The protagonist is a survivalist named Chaos, who lives in an abandoned megaplex in Wyoming after an apparent nuclear strike. The residents of his town of Hatfork are reliant on a sinister messianic figure named Kellogg for food. Kellogg also has powerful dreams, which he transfers into the minds of others. Chaos's mind is especially receptive, making him reluctant to sleep.

Both Lethem and Chaos abandon this premise early on, and Chaos also goes by the name of "Everett Moon", depending on where he is. The novel plays with several other dystopian and post-apocalyptic setups. One area is covered in a thick green fog, save for an exclusive private school. Vacaville, California, has converted to a luck-based social system, taken to totalitarian extremes. Again, this is reminiscent of Dick's Solar Lottery, where society is also based on chance.

There are echoes of other works by Dick. For example, when Moon and his travelling companion, Melinda, reach San Francisco, hallucinogenic drugs play a role in altered perceptions that provide access to other characters in this world, as in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Elsewhere, it is argued that the depicted realities splintered away from each other to provide resistance to a hive-like alien invasion of Earth. Such solipsistic worlds are reminiscent of Dick's early novel Eye in the Sky.

The one constant throughout is the idea that reality is shaped by powerful and charismatic "dreamers". The reason for the break in realities, and Chaos/Moon's place in this world, is a unifying mystery.

Secondary bibliography[edit]

  • Rossi, Umberto. "From Dick to Lethem: The Dickian Legacy, Postmodernism, and Avant-Pop in Jonathan Lethem's Amnesia Moon", Science-Fiction Studies # 86, 29:1, March 2002, 15-33.