I knew I'd read these characters' names before, but, other than poor Laryssa, I didn't immediately remember them all... You ARE referencing back to 2021... And even my re-read from the beginning to catch up caught me up in August 2022...

Fortunately, you were kind enough to link the relevant chapters in the Author's Notes. Part of the delay in this comment, since I had more re-reads.

Laryssa... Who knew all this time she had more sinister connections than being a refugee seeking a better life? Well, the author. This chapter reinforces her tragedy, as those she left behind are ignorant to her fate.

(Digression: my re-reads - and re-re-reads in some cases - spell out the double difficulty of retaining information dribbled in small doses over an extended period, combined with my own aging/worsening memory, and an unfortunate "brain fog" aftermath from my COVID last December. Since then I've just felt like I've been "off," certainly doing a lot more really dumb things like leaving the house unlocked when going into town, or worse, leaving the keys in the front door for hours while walking into town. Pre COVID? A mistake I'd made once or twice in 40 years. Post COVID? Let's say I have Laura actively reminding me not to do such things after I did them three times in a week. I'm dumber now. Relevant to this story, I see from my own comments that by August 2022 I'd identified DCI Miller as a "baddie," but in July 2023 I was surprised he was a baddie. If Alzhiemer's or dementia ran in my family I'd be worrying I was showing early symptoms. It doesn't - all my blood relatives remained sharp as a razor into their 70's and 80's with my Godfather/Uncle Tom only showing cognitive decline after COVID as he approaches 90.)

Relevant to this week's Monday column on storytelling and theme parks. In my comment there (and I don't know if you'll read this or that first) I comment on how the reader's imagination fills in details with specific examples on how I might visualize a Simon Jones character/location one way, then you draw something or drop a detail and we've seen things in a different way...

...Yeah, I didn't think of Lola as blonde.

Everybody loves Lola.

There's a story reference this week to "She's not up to it, yet." I'll assume "she" is someone we've met before, and, oddly, I feel this is Princess Daryla. She seems different to many others in her social class, although she is definitely an aristocrat. I can see her being part of a revolutionary scheme, but thinking the revolution will involve less violence than such things do. We shall see.

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I find the same, though due to age rather than covid. In my teens and 20s I could remember absurd amounts of detail about fiction. I'd know every corner of Babylon 5 (PLUS all the production details - I literally knew who wrote and directed every episode), every tiny bit of lore of Star Wars, every random side character in LotR. These days, I struggle to remember what happened between seasons of TV - even though seasons only have about 6 episodes now.

As for Lola being blonde: I rarely go in for character description, unless it's plot- or character perspective-relevant. Which can be a bit fiddly in some cases: in this chapter, for example, Krystyan is aen'fa, but there's no particular reason for him to think about that. Now, if Clarke or Holland were to meet him, you can bet it's something they'd note. Those point of view elements are both useful for drama and awkward, depending on the scene.

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Age is a lot of it, although I subscribe to a theory of neurology/psychology from... 2010 or so? (It's fitting I can't remember the date.) Said theory, in brief, posits that it's less about one's memory getting worse with age as with the brain having to deal with exponentially more data in storage to sort through. I'm 51. Babylon 5 came out 30 years ago. When B5 seared itself into my brain (Although I never did memorize all the directors, etc), there was a lot less data in storage and B5 got slotted in closer to the top of the index. Now, close to 60% of my current lifespan later, there's a lot more stored in there and the index has gotten messier as more new links and cross links appeared. Then the brain tries to "compress" data in a lossy way. Routine work days, for example, blend together. The brain doesn't need detail on the routine, so, say, days when I worked for that flooring company and nothing much happened get lumped together. Only the outstanding incidents get preserved.

So, yeah, it's less about memory worsening as it just being harder to sort through more shit, with the early memories being nearest the start of the index.

Yes, the study used brain-as-computer metaphor.

All that said, it does seem COVID may have damaged something. I noticed it (and of course we discussed keys), Laura's noticed it, and friends in the US I've talked to on phone or webcam - a couple of them have commented I seem unfocused or spacey. I'm remembering being at the doctor's a few months ago because I needed a health certificate to apply for a driver's learning permit and being briefly terrified the doctor might rescind the declaration of good health because I filled out the paperwork wrong... Three times in a row. Needing four tries to put my signature in the right box, or to fill out my own birthday correctly, (even accounting for 50 years of MM/DD/YYYY vs one year of DD/MM/YYYY) is terrifying to me.

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