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Tell Me an Ending

Tell Me an Ending Summary

Tell Me an Ending: Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror in this thrilling speculative debut about a tech company that deletes unwanted memories, the consequences for those forced to contend with what they tried to forget, and the dissenting doctor who seeks to protect her patients from further harm.

What if you didn't have to live with your worst memories?

Across the world, thousands of people are shocked by a notification that they once chose to have a memory removed. Now they are being given an opportunity to get that memory back. Four individuals are filled with new doubts, grappling with the unexpected question of whether to remember unknown events or to leave them buried forever.

Finn, an Irish architect living in the Arizona desert, begins to suspect his charming wife of having an affair. Mei, a troubled grad school dropout in Kuala Lumpur, wonders why she remembers a city she has never visited. William, a former police inspector in England, struggles with PTSD, the breakdown of his marriage, and his own secret family history. Oscar, a handsome young man with almost no memories at all, travels the world in a constant state of fear.

Into these characters’ lives comes Noor, a psychologist working at the Nepenthe memory removal clinic in London. The process of reinstating patients’ memories begins to shake the moral foundations of her world. As she delves deeper into how the program works, she will have to risk everything to uncover the cost of this miraculous technology.

A provocative exploration of secrets, grief, and identity—of the stories we tell ourselves—Tell Me an Ending is a sharp, dark, and devastating novel about the power of memory.

About the Author

Jo Harkin's passion is literary sci-fi, with an emphasis on how new technology impacts human lives. Her inspirations include Kazuo Ishiguro, Jennifer Egan, Charlie Kaufman, and Margaret Atwood. Her first speculative fiction novel, Tell Me An Ending, is released in March 2022 in the US and May 2022 in the UK. She lives in Berkshire, England.

Tell Me an Ending Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Just a few more questions,” says Noor. “Box ticking. And then we’re all done.

She remembers from her training, years ago, that she’s supposed to give a reassuring smile at this point, to let the client sitting in front of her know that the difficult bit is over, that this is just a small matter of paperwork before they can begin their new, happy life.

Noor said to Louise at the time that the clients Noor forgets to smile at probably feel more reassured than the ones who receive a smile, see the forced nature of the smile, and start worrying what Noor might be hiding, but Louise said it didn’t matter.

Nobody expects it to look authentic, Louise said. You look like a competent professional doing a token smile, and that’s perfect. That’s all they want from you.

Noor smiles at her client.

Great,” says the client. He rubs his face. His body softens into his chair. He’s only about thirty, his notes say he saw a man being sucked into a snowblower at a ski resort. “Good to know.”

So. Since your deletion procedure, have you experienced any insomnia, unexplained mood changes, symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations or visual disturbances, headaches, anxiety, depression?

No,” says the client. “Does that stuff often happen after a wipe?

After a removal,” Noor says, because Nepenthe doesn’t like the word wipe. They prefer Targeted Removal Solution. Not that it matters. Slang is slang: they can’t fight the tide.

“None of these are common aftereffects,” she continues. “In fact, incidences are far lower for our clients than for the general population.”

Cool,” says the guy. “Well, I haven’t had any of those.

And you say your PTSD symptoms have subsided.

Yep. All gone.”

Well, that’s certainly good news,” she says. She stifles a small burp, apple flavored. It reminds her that the apple she ate for breakfast was a while ago. She wonders how long she’s got until lunch.

Noor is the head of the Aftercare team. She doesn’t usually conduct follow-up interviews personally, but she’s doing a few to test out the new script. She’s looking forward to the end of them.

There are two kinds of clients at Nepenthe: self-informed and self-confidential. The self-informeds know that they’ve had a memory removed; the self-confidentials don’t. Self-informed clients tend to be people who have witnessed terrible but relatively simple events, like snowblowing accidents. In most cases, these clients are content with knowing that they saw these things, without being able to remember the thing itself. It’s enough that the incident has become… abstract.

The self-informed clients usually arrive for their interview a month after their procedure, say they feel great, and leave. Even on the rare occasion that someone doesn’t feel great, they’re usually civilized about it. Before Noor started working at Nepenthe, she thought that she’d be facing a lot of chair smashing, desk tipping, door punching. But in fact, the clients are almost uniformly well-behaved.

It’s because we’re messing with their brains, Louise says. Makes people very polite.

Noor never meets any of the self-confidentials. Their procedures take place at night. And nobody interviews them afterward. Obviously. Noor gets reports from their GPs instead, who usually reach the same conclusion: the patient, to all appearances, is feeling great.

I do have one thing I was just… wondering about,” says Noor’s client now. “Maybe it’s stupid.

Please,” Noor says. “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Her stomach mutters, as if to disagree. She folds her hands over it.

I remembered something I read, about how life is like a symphony, and what Nepenthe does is edit out the wrong note. But then, I was… I mean, I’ve been kind of unmotivated, I’ve been wiping out on the mountain bike a lot, I was wondering the other day if I’m in the right job. And I’m thinking—what if I accidentally deleted a good note along with the bad note? Or if even if it was just the bad note, if I needed that note to, well, be me.

What a bloody stupid question, thinks Noor.

Instead, she says, “Your state of mind goes through changes all the time. You’re only noticing it now because—post-procedure—you’re on the alert for side effects. It’s a well-known cognitive phenomenon. When the brain takes up a theory, it focuses on gathering evidence to support it and ignores everything else. It’s not objective.

Huh,” says the client. Eyebrows up, slow nod. “That’s nice. Reassuring. They should tell people that earlier.

Noor waits.

Oh,” says the client. “They already did, didn’t they?

“In your first appointment, yes. In fact, your notes indicate you felt positive about it then, too.”

“So I am still the same person,” the client says. “That’s good.”

Absolutely,” Noor says. She sighs. “So, last question: Do you feel that every element of the unwanted memory has been completely removed?

The client stops smiling. He frowns.

Noor knew he would. This is part of the new script—reworded in a hurry not by the psychology department, but by Nepenthe’s legal team.

Is this about traces?” says the client.

How do you mean?” asks Noor. Neutral tone.

But she knows exactly what he means. Over the years since Nepenthe opened, there have been a small but vocal number of people claiming to be former self-confidential clients who’d been left with part of the memory intact—or else, that part of the memory had somehow regenerated. The media picked up the story and blew it out of all proportion. Traces was the word they came up with for the phenomenon. Which hadn’t been a phenomenon until the media decided that’s what it was.

Are you suffering from traces?

Documentaries were made, interviewing mostly mentally ill people about their unexplained visions. Films, TV dramas, novels followed—usually clenchingly moralizing, usually having puns in their titles—and Noor considered them a good thing in that they managed to trivialize the whole issue. The phenomenon eventually dropped off the front pages. People moved on to new phenomena.

Then about a year ago, Nepenthe scientists discovered that deleted memories weren’t actually gone for good. That—with another procedure—they could even be recovered.

Oh no, Noor remembers thinking when she found out. Please, no.

But yes. And once that got out, a significant number of people who claimed they’d been tormented by traces argued that they should have the right to know if they were former self-confidential Nepenthe clients—and not only that, to get their memories back. It became a class-action lawsuit in several countries, and—in most of these—the former clients won.

Hence: the restorations.

Noor knows her client knows all of this. She’s just not sure how much he’ll feel emboldened to ask. She sits back and allows her smile to fade into her usual expression, which she’s been told variously is one of coolness, flatness, hostility.

I mean,” says the client, with a look of minor defiance, “are you checking to see if I have any traces—

Regarding the alleged phenomenon known as traces,” Noor says carefully, “the company’s official position is that evidence of this is only anecdotal. There are yet to be any peer-reviewed, methodologically sound studies proving their existence, let alone explaining what they are or why they occur.

Sounds very formal,” the client says. “But this is about that whole fuckup, right? Excuse my language. The… eff-up. You know. Aren’t the traces the reason you guys have to give all the night clients their memories back?

It’s true that the former self-confidential clients who claimed to be experiencing traces happened to be the ones who brought the lawsuits,” Noor says. “But the argument wasn’t about whether or not traces exist. It was about the right to have a memory restored, now that restorations are a possibility. Any former Nepenthe client could have brought that case. It’s just that the only people who cared enough to do it were the ones who believed they were experiencing traces.

I just don’t see why they cared,” the client says. “I mean, given the absence of any peer-reviewed methodologically sound research proving that they ought to care.

Is he mocking her?

Noor sighs.

Yes, he’s definitely mocking her. He’s forgotten that he’s afraid of Noor, and Nepenthe. Noor blames the fuckup, personally. It’s undermined their authority.

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Tell Me an Ending

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN1982164328, 978-1982164324
Posted onMarch 1, 2022
Page Count448 pages
AuthorJo Harkin

Tell Me an Ending By Jo Harkin PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

Tell Me an Ending: Never Let Me Go meets Black Mirror in this thrilling speculative debut about a tech company that deletes unwanted memories, the consequences for those forced to contend with what they tried to forget, and the dissenting doctor who seeks to protect her patients from further harm.


Author: Jo Harkin

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