Living Memory by David Walton, Review: Scary science fiction

Living Memory by David Walton is the first book in a new science fiction action-thriller trilogy exploring the possibility of resurrecting the past for good and evil. Read my review.

Living Memory Book Review - author David Walton

Living Memory Book Synopsis

Living Memory #1

We always thought we were the first.

When paleontologists Samira and Kit uncover dinosaur skeletons in northern Thailand, they also find the remains of an ancient genetic technology that nations will kill to control.

Catapulted into a web of murder and intrigue involving the Chinese Ministry of State Security, a powerful Asian crime syndicate, the CIA, and a beautiful Thai princess, Samira and Kit don’t know who they can trust. Torn apart by competing factions and stranded on opposite sides of the world, they race to discover the truth before the world goes to war. Can they bring the past to life before it kills them all?

Living Memory is the first book of a globe-spanning thriller series by the author of The Genius Plague, Superposition and Supersymmetry.

David Walton “has brought hard sci-fi roaring back to life” (Wall Street Journal) with “vivid, speculative science” (David Brin) in “an expanding universe of delight” (Washington Post).

Genre: Science Fiction, Action-Adventure, Thriller

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Book Review

Firstly, do not be scared off by this novel’s cover art… there is an entertaining read within.

What I always enjoy about David Walton’s brand of science fiction are the strong ties to the world we know — whether that be real-world events, geo-political tensions or scientific advancements. From these solid and highly credible footings, he then challenges readers to step outside of their comfort zone. In the case of Living Memory, he asks us to consider the notion of a technologically advanced society having existed many millions before our own.

In an interview with, Walton explained his inspiration for this new Living Memory series:

I love dinosaurs (who doesn’t?), and I’ve wanted to write a paleontology-themed book for a while. I explored the idea by writing a short story about intelligent dinosaurs that took place sixty-six million years ago (“The Roost Of Ash And Fire,” published in FutureSF). That was the genesis of the idea to create a technology around an extraordinary sense of smell.

All my books start from a scientific topic I get obsessed with and can’t get enough of. I’ve always thought it interesting to imagine alternate ways that a highly-technological society might exist that’s utterly different from ours. Does technology always have to follow the same path? Might creatures with a completely different biology make different discoveries based on what they need and how they see the world?

Walton’s exploration of this concept puts our deceptively narrow assumption set under the spotlight, while offering thought-provoking tie-backs to topical issues in our own reality, e.g. patriarchal dominance, class structures, science-deniers, pandemics.

Living Memory features the widest time span between alternating narratives I’ve ever read, and its ensemble cast (human and other!) is comprised of strongly drawn and engaging characters with diverse backstories.

Kit believed he had the power to sow the seeds of his own future. He believed in science and its inherent value to the human race. He believed that humanity could be transformed, not by accepting what was, but by striving toward a future they could create together. Yeah, not a very good Buddhist at all.

This is one of those novels that is difficult to review without spoiling many of the surprises in store for readers, but what I will say is:

This relatively short novel Living Memory offers readers some resolution, but it ends with a major cliffhanger or Book 2 tease….. one worthy of comparison to Matthew Reilly’s! But thankfully we do not have long to wait for the remainder of this trilogy – with Deadly Memory (#2) and Memory Reborn (#3) scheduled for publication in May and December of 2023, respectively. 

If you are looking for entertaining, accessible science fiction with a strong thread of humanity, then I recommend you consider Walton’s novels. I was also thoroughly entertained by his previous titles The Genius Plague, Superposition and Supersymmetry.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3.5 / 5 — Overall 3.75

Get your copy of Living Memory from:

Bookshop US Amazon Booktopia AU Book Depository

About the Author, David Walton

David hails from Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife and eight children. An engineer by day and an author by night, David won the 2008 Philip K. Dick Award for his debut novel Terminal Mind, and the 2018 John W. Campbell Award for The Genius Plague.

* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.