Amnesia Moon

Amnesia Moon is a 1995 novel by Jonathan Lethem. Lethem adapted the novel from several unpublished short stories he had written, all about catastrophic, apocalyptic events. In finished form Amnesia Moon bears homage to Philip K. Dick. In fact, during a party scene, one guest describes a battle of wills in West Marin, clearly a reference to Dick's Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb. One character even cites a West Marin inhabitant named "Hoppington", evocative of the mutant telepath Hoppy Harrington in the latter book.

Amnesia Moon
First edition cover
AuthorJonathan Lethem
Cover artistJacket design by Alexander Munn and Steven Cooley
Jacket illustration by Alexander Munn
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction novel
PublisherHarcourt Brace & Co.
Publication date
September 1995
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages247 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN0-15-100091-3 (first edition, hardcover)
813/.54 20
LC ClassPS3562.E8544 A8 1995
Preceded byGun, with Occasional Music 
Followed byThe Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye 


The protagonist is a survivalist named Chaos, who lives in an abandoned megaplex in Wyoming after an apparent nuclear strike. The residents of his town of Hatfork are reliant on a sinister messianic figure named Kellogg for food. Kellogg also has powerful dreams, which he transfers into the minds of others. Chaos's mind is especially receptive, making him reluctant to sleep.

Both Lethem and Chaos abandon this premise early on, and Chaos also goes by the name of "Everett Moon", depending on where he is. The novel plays with several other dystopian and post-apocalyptic setups. One area is covered in a thick green fog, save for an exclusive private school. Vacaville, California, has converted to a luck-based social system, taken to totalitarian extremes. Again, this is reminiscent of Dick's Solar Lottery, where society is also based on chance.

There are echoes of other works by Dick. For example, when Moon and his travelling companion, Melinda, reach San Francisco, hallucinogenic drugs play a role in altered perceptions that provide access to other characters in this world, as in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Elsewhere, it is argued that the depicted realities splintered away from each other to provide resistance to a hive-like alien invasion of Earth. Such solipsistic worlds are reminiscent of Dick's early novel Eye in the Sky.

The one constant throughout is the idea that reality is shaped by powerful and charismatic "dreamers". The reason for the break in realities, and Chaos/Moon's place in this world, is a unifying mystery.

Secondary bibliography

  • Rossi, Umberto. "From Dick to Lethem: The Dickian Legacy, Postmodernism, and Avant-Pop in Jonathan Lethem's Amnesia Moon", Science-Fiction Studies # 86, 29:1, March 2002, 15-33.

External links

1995 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1995.

As She Climbed Across the Table

As She Climbed Across the Table is a 1997 science fiction novel by the American writer Jonathan Lethem. It is a satirical story set on the fictional campus of Beauchamp University in Northern California. Particle physicist Alice Coombs rooms with narrator Philip Engstrand, an anthropologist researching conflicts between and within disciplines. Their relationship drives the romantic aspect of this story. The novel deals thematically with many of the philosophical issues pertaining to modern quantum physics, as well as human interaction with artificial intelligence.

Carter Scholz

Carter Scholz (né Robert Carter Scholz, born 1953) is a speculative fiction author and composer of music. He has published several works of short fiction (collected in The Amount to Carry, 2003) and two novels (Palimpsests 1984, with Glenn Harcourt; Radiance: A Novel 2002). He has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula Award for Best Novelette for his story "The Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven and Other Lost Songs". He also co-wrote The New Twilight Zone episode "A Small Talent for War" and contributed stories to Kafka Americana.

Scholz grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey and graduated from Tenafly High School in 1971. He also attended Rhode Island School of Design.

He is married and lives in California.

Chronic City

Chronic City (2009) is a novel by American author Jonathan Lethem.

Dissident Gardens

Dissident Gardens is Jonathan Lethem's ninth novel. It is a multigenerational saga of revolutionaries and activists, the civil rights movement and the counterculture, from the 1930s Communists to the 2010s Occupy movement, and is mostly set in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens and in Greenwich Village.

The title is an obvious play on "Sunnyside Gardens". Later, a character in East Germany writes to his American daughter, describing his workplace:

The Werkhofinstitut Rosa Luxemburg, though it goes among those of us here by a nickname, Gärten der Dissidenz, which I suppose one might translate as “Dissident Gardens,” ...


A fix-up (or fixup) is a novel created from several short fiction stories that may or may not have been initially related or previously published. The stories may be edited for consistency, and sometimes new connecting material, such as a frame story or other interstitial narration, is written for the new work. The term was coined by the science fiction writer A. E. van Vogt, who published several fix-ups of his own, including The Voyage of the Space Beagle, but the practice (if not the term) exists outside of science fiction. The use of the term in science fiction criticism was popularised by the first (1979) edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by Peter Nicholls, which credited Van Vogt with the creation of the term.

The name comes from the modifications that the author needs to make in the original texts to make them fit together as though they were a novel. Foreshadowing of events from the later stories may be jammed into an early chapter of the fix-up, and character development may be interleaved throughout the book. Contradictions and inconsistencies between episodes are usually worked out.

Some fix-ups in their final form are more of a short story cycle or composite novel rather than a traditional novel with a single main plotline. Examples are Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, both of which read as a series of short stories which may share plot threads and characters but which still act as self-contained stories. By contrast, van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher is structured like a continuous novel although it incorporates material from three previous Van Vogt short stories.

Fix-ups became an accepted practice in American publishing during the 1950s, when science fiction and fantasy—once published primarily in magazines—began appearing increasingly in book form. Large book publishers like Doubleday and Simon & Schuster entered the market, greatly increasing demand for fiction. Authors created new manuscripts from old stories to sell to publishers. Algis Budrys in 1965 described fixups as a consequence of the lack of good supply during the "bad years for quality" of the mid-1950s, although citing The Martian Chronicles and Clifford D. Simak's City as among exceptions.

Girl in Landscape

Girl in Landscape is a science fiction novel by Jonathan Lethem, originally published as a 280-page hardback in 1998, by Doubleday Publishing Group. It is said to evoke the classic Western film The Searchers (1956).

Gun, with Occasional Music

Gun, with Occasional Music is a 1994 novel by American writer Jonathan Lethem. It blends science fiction and hardboiled detective fiction. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1994.

Jonathan Lethem

Jonathan Allen Lethem (; born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels.

In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel that achieved mainstream success. In 2003, he published The Fortress of Solitude, which became a New York Times Best Seller. In 2005, he received a MacArthur Fellowship.

Kafka Americana

Kafka Americana is a 1999 collection of short stories by Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz based on the life (and alternate histories) and works of Franz Kafka. Originally published in a limited edition by Subterranean Press, it was released as a trade paperback by W. W. Norton & Company in 2001.

Kathryn Cramer

Kathryn Elizabeth Cramer (born April 16, 1962) is an American science fiction writer, editor, and literary critic.

List of nuclear holocaust fiction

This list of nuclear holocaust fiction lists the many works of speculative fiction that attempt to describe a world during or after a massive nuclear war, nuclear holocaust, or crash of civilization due to a nuclear electromagnetic pulse.

Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn is a novel by Jonathan Lethem that was first published in 1999. The story is set in Brooklyn, and follows Lionel Essrog, a detective who has Tourette's, a disorder marked by involuntary tics. Essrog works for Frank Minna, a small-time neighborhood owner of a "seedy and makeshift" detective agency, who is stabbed to death. Together, Essrog and three other characters—Tony, Danny and Gilbert—call themselves "the Minna Men".

Omega the Unknown

Omega the Unknown was an American comic book published by Marvel Comics from 1976 to 1977, featuring the eponymous fictional character. The series, written by Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes and illustrated by Jim Mooney, ran for 10 issues before cancellation for low sales. Despite its short run, it has remained as a cult classic due to its intriguing characters and unusual storytelling. A 10-issue series revamping the character was published from 2007 to 2008, written by novelist Jonathan Lethem and illustrated by Farel Dalrymple.

Simulated reality in fiction

Simulated reality is a common theme in science fiction. It is predated by the concept "life is a dream". It should not be confused with the theme of virtual reality.

The Fortress of Solitude (novel)

The Fortress of Solitude is a 2003 semi-autobiographical novel by Jonathan Lethem set in Brooklyn and spanning the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. It follows two teenage friends, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude, one white and one black, who discover a magic ring. The novel explores the issues of race and culture, gentrification, self-discovery, and music.

The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye

The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye is a 1996 collection of seven short stories by Jonathan Lethem. In 2002 a collection of the same name appeared in the United Kingdom that also contained seven stories, but two stories from the earlier collection—"Vanilla Dunk" and "Forever, Said the Duck"—were replaced by "Access Fantasy" and "How We Got Into Town And Out Again". All of the stories, as with much of Lethem's early work, have definite science fiction elements despite their widely varying content and some thinly veiled commentary on modern society.

The collection won a World Fantasy Award in 1997.

Tommy Pallotta

Tommy Pallotta (born May 25, 1968, in Houston, Texas) is an American film director and producer.

You Don't Love Me Yet

You Don't Love Me Yet (2007) is a comic novel about alternative music from Jonathan Lethem, set in modern Los Angeles.

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