The podcast of “Memories of Childhood” recently went live at Nil Desperandum, but I wrote this story many years ago. After it was published by OG’s Speculative Fiction in 2009, several people asked me how much of it was based on my past. Certainly, some of Rob’s memories in the story are my own, but then again, part of me is in every character I create—how can it be any different?
“Memories of Childhood” wasn’t inspired by any single thing. Instead, it was inspired by a general feeling of paranoia that seemed to grip the U.S. in the mid-aughts. I had lived for many years outside the U.S. proper (effectively), so I must have been a little out of touch with the pulse of the country. On a visit to the continental U.S. (the “Lower 48” as my mom likes to call it), I remember the palpable tension that seemed to run through…well, everything. The country was mired in what seemed like a permanent orange/red Threat Level and many people seemed happy to trade away their individuals freedoms for any sense of security (even if that security seemed illusory to me). The material support provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act were also in the forefront of the national consciousness.
The purpose that trip was to go home—and yes, I spent part of my childhood in western New York. It was surreal in many ways to travel through the landscape of my youth, now overlain with the tense…hysteria. The contrast of the two—the happy memories of my childhood versus the present day fear—really struck me. All of these things played a role in “Memories of Childhood”.