My short story The M Zone is about a supremely successful tech geek who developed a way for people to re-experience their favorite memories, over and over again. Richard Busby called his product the MZA. That is, The Memory Zone Activator. To say it made him rich is an understatement.
The product was designed to help people in their twilight years re-experience their best memories of a lifetime, much the same way photo albums are often used, except in this case you not only have the memories but re-experience them in full.
Elderly people were the initial target market. When Busby realized that everyone would want to re-experience their best times the marketing team exploited the general consumer markets with ads like, “Relive the Best Times of Your Life!” and “Can Memory Be More Real Than Reality? Try It & See” and “Deja View? Yes, You May!”
Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go awry.
I wrote the story at a time when I was reading and thinking a lot about how the brain works, how memories work. I, for one, have forever been grateful that when I remember that painful time in the hospital back in 1973 that I do not re-experience the pain. I only remember it was something I didn’t want to go through again.
An artist friend shared this with me after reading The M Zone:
I was very amused by the story especially because as soon as I started reading I connected it with Edelman, Gerald & Tononi, Giulio, Consciousness — How Matter Becomes Imagination, Penguin Books, 2001 which I read some years ago and repeatedly states that our brain is not a computer, still all the information you give there is completely accurate making it a wonderful fiction tale based on the right information. I also reminds me of Memento (the film) in some ways, but what truly got to me was your idea of memory for it is beautiful and that reported me to one of my absolute favourite artists Howard Hodgkin who claims that his work solely refers to feelings and memory, and memory being exactly what you state in your story for he rejects ideas — he says: “I’m a painter of feelings, not ideas. Other people can represent ideas/concepts with their work, I cannot.” He is for me Proust in a visual art form and as far as the memory lane goes Proust was the Master of it and I can imagine him saying “all of their good memories, memories designed to comfort us in our old age when memory is all that we have.” I also think that Proust’s re-lived memories are in all and all similar to the necessity that human’s have to cherish their precious memories that you describe here, only, in a different set.
After posting The M Zone on my website in the mid-90’s, I was contacted by a screenwriter who asking permission to turn it into a short film. They sent me a 3 or 4 page script. I liked it. A month later they sent a 5-page script.
Their concept was to open with a TV news reporter standing out in front of an office building where a mob has gathered. Something is going on inside but they do not yet know what. Various rumors are shared. Then it cuts to the story.
I thought this was a nice setup, and could make a great film short. If you know anyone so inclined, let’s discuss.
Originally published at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.
*The Oscar Wilde quote is a paraphrase.