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The Armies of Memory

The Armies of Memory

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The Armies of Memory is a science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

, the fourth book of the Thousand Cultures series, by John Barnes
John Barnes (author)
-Writing:Two of his novels, The Sky So Big and Black and The Duke of Uranium have been reviewed as having content appropriate for a young adult readership, comparing favorably to Robert A. Heinlein's "juvenile" novels...

 whose story is told from the perspective of a middle-aged special agent named Giraut. The Armies of Memory explores the intermingling of artificial and human intelligence as an alien threat is on the horizon.

Plot summary

Several attempts are made on Giraut's life as he works on his new Ix cycle of music. He is sent back to Wilson, his home planet and culture of Occitan, to complete the new music along with his Office of Special Projects team as protection. Paxa retires from the OSP and leaves Giraut after finding out she cannot be successfully backed up on a psypyx, which would make her death permanent. Giraut begins to fall in love with a fellow musician Azalais who introduces him to Ebles, a contact for rogue colonies outside of Council space which call themselves the Union. Soon after, Azalais is killed and Giraut is severely injured in another assassination attempt.

After Giraut is healed he is contacted again by Union. Margaret sends him, along with Raimbaut and Laprada, to the rogue Union colony of Noucatharia to get to the bottom of several coincidences, including the whereabouts of a possible psypyx of Shan, and to find out who keeps trying to kill him. Once there Giraut begins to fall in love with Rielis, a talented musician and singer, as he tries to uncover what Union wants from him and the Council. It is revealed to Giraut and his team that everyone on Noucatharia is either an aintellect in human form or a chimera human/aintellect, both of which are forbidden horrors in Council space. They are also told there are multiple aintellect conspiracies unknown to the OSP, and that Noucatharia was the site of the first invasion by an unknown Alien army, in which humans were beheaded and aintellects/robots fought as best they could. After another amateurish assassination attempt he is kidnapped, separated from his team, and implanted with Shan's psypyx.

As Rielis questions Shan, Giraut and Rielis rapidly come to know what happened on Addams to cause it to lose contact with Earth. An aggressive alien aintellect-run invasion overwhelmed their defenses and killed everyone not in hiding—their goal being to destructively holograph brains, deconstruct aintellects and send back those memories and experiences to their home planet to be consumed as entertainment for their dependent organic creators who had isolated themselves in virtual reality. Only by advanced planning by Shan's father and help from his personal aintellect was a very young Shan able to escape via springer to Earth.

The OSP invades Noucatharia with help from Raimbaut just as Giraut/Shan and Rielis are beginning to agree on the cooperation that is needed between the Council and the Union to face the alien threat. Giraut/Shan are held prisoner by Margaret until the OSP can sort out friend from foe, but Paxa comes through a springer to free Giraut. He quickly recognizes that Paxa is joined to Azalais as a chimera in exchange for being able to be psypyxed in the future, and to help the progressive and dynamic Union face an alien threat. Giraut/Shan and Paxa/Azalais mount a rescue mission and free the aintellect humans and chimeras from OSP control and get Raimbaut to join them.

Raimbaut and Giraut/Shan then choose to stay behind in an attempt to rescue or destroy a Rielis psypyx from an OSP building before it can be tortured for its knowledge and secrets. They destroy the psypyx and Margaret captures them before they can make it to a springer. Raimbaut is quickly cleared of charges and Shan is eventually implanted in Margaret's brain—but Giraut is found guilty of assisting the aintellect conspiracies in escaping from Noucatharia. His trial is a rallying cry for human supremacists, but over time and as the facts come out they are increasingly marginalized by society who see Giraut as a martyr. The only thing left is for him to be executed to permit his public beheading to serve as a unifying story for future generations, as contact is made with the aintellect-run Union colonies.


  • Giraut - An experienced secret agent and influential musician.
  • Paxa - OSP agent and Giraut's girlfriend.
  • Margaret - Giraut's ex-wife and current OSP supervisor.
  • Raimbaut - OSP agent and young resurrected friend of Giraut.
  • Laprada - OSP agent resurrected girlfriend of Raimbaut.
  • Shan - Dead OSP supervisor and friend to Giraut.
  • Azalais - Musician from Wilson and Union contact.
  • Reilis - Love interest of Giraut and Union ambassador.
  • Ix - Prophet and friend to Giraut on Briand.
  • Ebles - Union agent who contacts Giraut.

Planets referenced

  • Earth (central planet of Humanity, in the Inner Sphere)
  • Wilson (Giraut's home planet; location of Nou Occitan culture)
  • Addams (Shan's home planet which has lost contact with Earth)
  • Noucatharia (rogue Occitan colony on planet Aurenga)
  • Briand (Dead planet, once home to two cultures who mutually destructed; part of Giraut's previous OSP mission)

See also

  • Interstellar teleporter
    Interstellar teleporter
    An interstellar teleporter is a hypothetical technology appearing in science fiction, typically in hard sci-fi, which teleports people and/or other objects over interstellar distances instantaneously...

  • Tunnel in the Sky
    Tunnel in the Sky
    Tunnel in the Sky is a science fiction book written by Robert A. Heinlein and published in 1955 by Scribner's as one of the Heinlein juveniles. The story describes a group of students sent on a survival test to an uninhabited planet...

  • Gridlinked
    Gridlinked is Neal Asher's first novel, published by the Macmillan Publishers imprint Pan Books in 2001. It contains elements of the technological inventiveness of hard science-fiction with a more contemporary political plotline...