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Memory Loss Stories

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?


Not just the words of a 3rd party Vice Presidential candidate, they are also the kernel of intriguing plot ideas, and they have been used many times in the world of Fanfic. All of these stories involve memories and memory loss as a central part of the plot. Why memory loss as a theme? I had a good reason, but I forgot what it was <g>. Besides, it's as good as any other for a group of stories, isn't it? And there's a great deal more variety around this theme than you might think. Most of these stories are of the Hurt/Comfort variety, but not all of them. There are a couple of humorous pieces, and a great uber thriller as well.


It is much more common to find memory loss in the classic Xena/Gabrielle stories, where there are more opportunities for godly interference, bonks on the head during battle, and magic potions to induce the amnesia required by the plot.  The X/G stories I have chosen cover the gamut of causes of memory loss.  It is much more difficult to incorporate amnesia into a modern day reality-based story (You're probably not going to see selective amnesia affecting a character on say, The West Wing). Having said that, there are a few ubers that have employed variations on the memory loss theme to marvelous effect.

How the series dealt with this theme:

If you remember (no pun intended), the TV series employed the memory theme in several ways: there were a couple of alternate reality episodes (2nd Season's Remember Nothing, 6th Season's When Fates Collide) where a character(s) returned from a different world with new memories from both worlds; and characters also uncovered hidden memories from their past lives in multiple reincarnation episodes. Gabrielle chose not to lose her memories in Forget Me Not. Poor Xena suffered the most memory difficulties over the 6 seasons: she came back from the dead with no memories of her violent past (Chakram); she was the only one who could remember the day repeating itself (Been There, Done That); and she forgot she was a lesbian when she agreed to marry Hrothgar in The Return of the Valkyrie <g>. And, who could forget Married With Fishsticks (try, though we might), where TPTB forgot about good writing?

Here are the fanfic stories that I could bring to mind that deal effectively with the theme of Memory Loss:

We start with a classic bit of fanfic from another pioneer in the field: BL Miller and a story with those aggravating godly types interfering again:

Hostage by BL Miller

Novella - X/G

This story is old-school fanfic from the early days of the genre - and it's a good one.  The gods are at it again - interfering in the lives of Xena and Gabrielle. Ares and Athena wreak havoc by wiping Xena's memories of everything that has transpired since her warlord days. She awakens with no memory of Gabrielle and immediately assumes that the young bard is her enemy. Warlord Xena hatches a plan to ransom the Queen back to the Amazons. Can Gabrielle find a way to break the gods' spell and get her old friend back? And can their relationship survive the fallout if she does? The story is set around the 3rd season and is filled with familiar characters from that time. Translation: Lots and lots of Amazons!!! The story is fast moving and filled with emotional drama. As far as I'm concerned, anything written by BL is a winner. This one comes highly recommended.

And let's not overlook the classic memory loss plot device: Battle injury. Here are a couple of stories that do so quite nicely:

The Tavernkeeper's Sister by Ella Quince

Short Story - X/G

This story finds Xena drinking in a tavern and paying special attention to a serving woman who looks just like the warrior's long-lost bard.  The woman seems to be the tavern keeper's sister and is curious as to why the mysterious woman warrior has taken an interest in her.  She is soon drawn to the warrior and agrees to leave with her. But is she really Gabrielle, and if she is can she ever recover her memories? Told from a shifting point of view, the story effectively captures each woman's questions and fears about the young woman's true identity. Ella's stories are always well written and entertaining, and this one is no exception.  Highly recommended.



Love Never Fails by J Covington

Long Short Story - X/G

Although it can be read on its own, Love Never Fails is actually the sequel to two previous stories, Ares Game and Escapade. The story begins about a month after Xena and Gabrielle's Amazon joining ceremony. While helping an old friend defend her home against a warlord, Gabrielle is injured and loses her memory. Hoping to help restore her memories and allow her own injuries to heal, Xena takes her back to the Amazon village. The story has some funny and touching moments as Gabrielle slowly reacquaints herself with her patient soul mate.

Seems only fair for Xena to take another turn at the memory loss thing:

Shadow Play by Pink Rabbit Productions

Short Story - X/G

Shadow Play serves as an alternative look at events surrounding the Rift during the third season of the series. After the events that caused the Rift, Xena has returned to Amazon land intent on finding and killing a mysterious beast that has been attacking Amazons. Her quest to find the beast forces her to face her own inner demons.  The story is a riveting exploration of what it means to lose one's mind, and the struggle to try and reclaim one's grasp on reality. This one is gripping and is especially recommended to folks who weren't happy with the Rift arc of the series.

After all those gods and warlords, how about a classic Uber that fits the theme? Surfacing was one of the first really great Ubers in the Thriller genre, and it's a great representation of the theme.

Surfacing by Paul Seely and Jennifer Garza

Novel - O/U

Surfacing was one of the earliest novel-length true ubers, and it's a good one. If you haven't discovered it, you're in for a treat. If you read it when it was first written a few years ago, it's well worth a second read.  It's got an engaging plot that is loaded with action, danger, suspense and emotional intrigue. Diana Starret is an agent in a secret government agency who has been mnemonically altered. All memories of her life have been wiped out. While on an undercover assignment she meets attorney Charlotte Browning and feels an instant connection.  In order to have a chance at a life with her new love, she must complete a very dangerous assignment that might have dire consequences for both women. The writing is crisp and effective and the characters are strongly drawn. This one comes very highly recommended.

And turnabout's fair play for the Uber G:

Breaking Chains by Rooks

Novel - O/U

Breaking Chains is a re-telling of the movie titled Dead Again (starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh). Faith Dickinson is a private investigator who takes on the case of a young woman suffering from amnesia. As she searches for clues to young woman's identity she finds herself entangled in a fifty year old murder mystery  - a murder she and the young amnesiac seemed to be linked to as well. The writing is suspenseful and in many ways the story works better as a novel than it did as a movie. Here we have interesting character inner dialogs, and the gender changes add a fun new twist as well  (and I couldn't get past Kenneth Branagh's accent in the movie). Breaking Chains is a great mystery story with lots of plot twists and turns. Even if you've seen the movie, it will keep you in suspense all the way to the end. Highly recommended.

Gods, after all that angst, I could use a little humor break. This next one will do quite nicely.

A Memory Misconstrued by Sharona

Short Story - X/G

A memory loss story that's funny? You betcha. In this short story by Sharona, Joxer accidentally hits Xena on the head and she loses her memory. With her loss of identity, she suddenly sees things in her relationship with Gabrielle in a whole new light - and she acts on it to hysterical effect. Great Joxer characterization in this one, along with a new way of deconstructing the subtext from the first few seasons. Definitely recommended.

Interfering gods, warlords with pikes, psychological torture and mind control, mental illness, bonks on the head by the comic relief, amnesia - what's else can cause memory loss? We're left with the one thing that probably hits a little close to home for some of us (not me, of course, but I do know some people...)

Did We? By Rocky Macelli

Short Story - O/U

A fun little first date story about a couple who have a little too much to drink and can’t seem to remember exactly how they spent their evening. They wake up together with a few unusual clues to help them figure things out.  A fresh approach to the usual first time story.


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