"Rubies and Tangled Webs" by Nicky Drayden appeared in Daily Science Fiction on March 29, 2013. "Two friends play poker for high stakes--their memories."
A few paragraphs into this story I almost groaned, "Not ANOTHER memory story!" But the pacing was good and some mystery was building, so I persevered. I am so glad that I did.
Reading on, the story evoked a memory (ahem)--a good memory--of "Ivy Rose" by Dan Hart, which appeared in DSF and was reviewed in Songs of Eretz on December 18, 2012. In Mr. Hart's story, a man desperate for cash sells his memories. In Ms. Drayden's tale, her characters gamble away their memories--that is kicking it up a few notches.
There are many twists and turns, double crosses, and wheels within wheels in the story that I will not reveal here lest I spoil. But I do feel safe discussing the following topic that is woven into the fabric of the tale: just how much is a memory worth? Ms. Dryden answers this question brilliantly. It doesn't matter what the memory is worth to someone else. What matters is the value of that memory to the individual who first lived it. How profound. How thought-provoking. And most of all--how memorable. 7 out of 7 rocket-dragons for this haunting tale.
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