Read Brain Wave by Poul Anderson Online


A fascinating 'what if novel, Brainwave is an exploration into the ways human society is organized and the assumptions that are made about how life is valued. It is also a novel about equality and what happens when the hierarchical structures by which we arrange our daily lives disappear....

Title : Brain Wave
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345325211
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 164 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Brain Wave Reviews

  • Stephen
    2019-01-11 08:35

    Prolific Grand Master Poul Anderson earned his place of honor within the hallowed halls of science fiction’s best and brightest. His work may not be as engagingly readable as Asimov, or as accessibly impactful as Clarke. He was never as politically-minded as Heinlein and his prose is not as slick and stylish as Vance or Zelazny. However, I would argue that his product is among the top in so many areas that his wide-ranging competencies, when married to his prodigious ability to spin the “big idea,” make his catalog a required staple for any serious examination of science fiction. SYNOPSIS:Brain Wave is the quintessence of big idea science fiction and Anderson explores it with the skill of a veteran spelunker navigating through a vast underground expanse. The Earth, having existed in a neural-dampening field since the cretaceous period, suddenly emerges resulting in a five fold increase in intelligence for every person (and animal) on the planet. Following this life-altering event singularity, society immediately begins to breakdown as the first step of a radical realignment. You have: **unskilled workers suddenly disenchanted with the monotony of their daily, yet essential jobs; **professionals finding their money and status-centric occupations tiresome and unfulfilling; **large portions of the “pre change” highly intelligent finding nothing but confused madness on the other side of the IQ boost; **pigs, monkeys and other animals suddenly finding themselves questioning their place in humanity’s world and equipped with the capacity to do something about it; and**regular joes and janes finding that heightened intelligence does not necessarily mean an end to prejudice, intolerance, fear and self-doubt. This is a fascinating premise for a “what if” novel and Poul does an admirable job, to the extent he is allowed, to explore the effects on human society and how life reorganizes itself when the age-old hierarchies and social structures are shattered. THOUGHTS:I “only” gave this 3 stars (really 3.5). This is not a reflection of the power or skill of Anderson’s novel. There is much of both within. It’s rather an acknowledgement of the shackles placed on Poul by his editors and the marketing gurus of the time, who required the book to fit within the slim 200 page format of SF stories of the time. I believe this is a story begging to be allowed to breathe and develop and I think if Poul had been given the opportunity, this would be a 500 page, wide net examination of the many facets of what it means to be human. As it is, we are limited to following a handful of individuals: Peter Corinth, a brilliant (by pre-change standards) research physicist; Sheila Corinth, Peter’s wife; Felix Mandelbaum, a union official; and Archie Brock, a mentally handicapped individual.Within the four individual stories we see the struggles faced by most of the world’s population as they come to terms with the extreme increase in intelligence. To Anderson’s credit, he uses the time he is allotted to tell a compelling story. The tales of both Sheila Corinth and Archie Brock are particularly moving. It just could have been so much more. In addition to the unfortunate lack of full idea development, I found the ending, while good, to be not quite as wowza as I would have liked. Still, this is a work that deserves to be read and I think is more than worth the ration of hours it will take to consume it. A lesser known, but quality work by one of the best. 3.5 stars. Recommended (highly).

  • Lyn
    2019-01-08 05:38

    Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave is a novel concept: earth has been existing in a force field that inhibited brain activity for eons. Then, we finally move out of the field and suddenly all animal life, people and animals, experience a radical increase in intelligence. I enjoy his writing and his approach to this unique idea, but the story itself was disjointed and unbalanced. If this had remained a short story, and if the plot had been more linear, this would have been much better. I did like the none too subtle message delivered that the economy suffered once everyone grew more intelligent, delivering a stinging rebuke to a materialistic, overly commercialized society. As it is, it is still very entertaining and enjoyable and Anderson’s wonderful imagination is in full form.

  • Bradley
    2019-01-14 12:00

    Great concept, troubling conclusions. I mean, isn't this what a lot of great SF is all about? A great idea to explore and get really excited about, coupled with a great story for the personal impact?We've got half of this. I almost squeed like a little girl with the idea that EVERYTHING on the planet got intelligent practically overnight. All the animals jumped in intelligence as well as all the people. We've got the ultimate What If, laying the foundation for the later brilliant book by Keyes, Flowers for Algernon or even the Smart Barkley in ST:TNG to a fairly epic level right off the bat, even laying the epic foundation for Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought, the places in the galaxy where intelligence slows or speeds up to godlike levels depending on where you are, praying that you remain safe.So what's my problem? Nothing too extreme, but each piles up and annoys until I just had to drop a few stars. Probably the worst is just a feature of 1950 when this came out, namely the assumption and portrayal of women being idiots or lazy or hopelessly enamoured and stymied because of inaccessible men. It drives me crazy. It also happened in Poul Anderson's Tau Zero, which was also a great novel in all respects except this.Smaller issues? Oh, like the assumption that with great intelligence the desire to prolong your own survival goes away. You know, like maintaining simple commerce or getting things done. I mean, come on, don't you think that if we got smarter we'd see right through that bullshit and roll up our sleeves? I mean, if everyone has broken the scale in intelligence, it's not like there would be anyone TO EXPLOIT. It should be a no brainer that if you want to survive, then get to work.Oh yeah, and desiring to return to the way things were before? Good grief. Intelligence does not equal unhappiness. I could make a good case that unhappiness in the very intelligent comes from being alone and unfulfilled. So what if the new standard is higher across the board? It means that we're all in the same boat as before, still needing to find meaning and connection in our lives. It doesn't change just because of our IQ.Other than that, I do think the basic premise is pretty damn awesome and I'd love to see a whole team of authors from all over the world try to tackle this issue seriously and creatively, not just an admittedly awesome author writing from 1950 from a narrow cultural viewpoint. I'd love to see what everyone else might come up with, because the idea is still fantastic and there can be a ton of really great play, here. :)I might even say that this novel deserves a full 5 stars just for the concept and its robust beauty and how it continues to spark the imagination. :)...But the story kinda drags it down, alas. Ooh, the opportunity!

  • Scott
    2019-01-08 11:57

    Imagine for a moment that humanity is a race of drooling idiot-children, operating at 20-25% of our brain capacity. (Was that a stretch for you? It wasn't for me, thinking of the US election, sundry pointless wars and the popularity of The Coolest on Kickstarter.) Now imagine that over the course of a few days the intelligence of every human (and every animal) on Earth expanded to four or five times their current level. This is the central premise of Brain Wave.In Anderson's alternate universe our solar system has spent millions of years drifting through a section of the Galaxy suffused with a field that dampens electrical reactions, including those in animal brains. As Brain Wave begins Earth has finally begun to exit this field, and the world changes overnight. The mentally disabled become geniuses, the average person becomes an intellectual giant and the leading thinkers of the day acquire demi-god-like smarts. Economies collapse as pointless consumerism ceases. Millions of newly gifted thinkers walk off their unsatisfying jobs, no longer satisfied with tedious toil in pursuit of pointless fripperies. The political system becomes irrelevant and humanity begins to look for new and greater challenges, our collective eyes turning towards the stars. Meanwhile apes join revolutions in Africa while rabbits and pigs use their newly sharpened wits to escape from human traps and cages.However this sudden smarts-boost brings more than philosophising and higher sudoku scores. Some people lose their sanity under the pressure of their new introspective powers, others join cults, riot and kill. Folks whose limited mental abilities previously excluded them from mainstream society are boosted to genius level, but genius level is childlike in the new world order and these former outcasts are as separate from society as before, but with a far greater capacity to understand their separation and what their impairments mean for them.Anderson's exploration of the impact of all this extra brainpower is convincing, entertaining and thoughtful.Surprisingly, Brain Wave has aged pretty well. One of my favourite (and perhaps masochistic) parts of reading older sci-fi works is looking for the anachronistic clangers so common to books written in the mid 20th Century - tape decks being used in far-future century Martian colonies, physical letters being delivered by hand in the year 3026, the nonexistence or subservience of female characters- that kind of thing. Brain Wave is notably short of such bum notes, with only a few 50's style sexist notes (a female character's appearance being entirely judged on her attractiveness to men) and references to intellectually handicapped individuals as 'morons' and 'imbeciles'. Anderson's story holds up pretty well for a 2016 reader.This isn't a perfect book, or even a great one, but it's good, and the central concept is fascinating. Apparently Anderson felt that Brain Wave was among his best books, and I would add that it is one of the better works of SF from the 1950s that I've read. The central concept was one that I found immensely appealing. Life in a society of geniuses - comprised of a general public able to see through the nasty political propaganda swamping us and the self-destructive work and consumption habits that our society currently champions - sounds pretty good to me.3.5 stars.

  • Apatt
    2018-12-31 03:52

    The blurb on the front cover of the paperback version reads "A panoramic story of what happens to a world gone super intelligent!". That sums the basic premise up so perfectly it saves me writing a synopsis (hurrah!).I love high concepts, They make it easier to "pitch" to my GR friends. Brain Wave is about every living creature in the world suddenly having their intellect more than quadrupled. Such a deceptively simple premise, it seems like anybody can write a story about this. However, Poul Anderson is one of sf's all-time greats, and here he managed to spin out a lot of imaginative yet entirely believable ramifications from such an event.Referring back to that aforementioned blurb again the "panoramic story" part refers to a multiple viewpoints structure which allows the author to create a detailed post-IQ boost world. Here Anderson focuses on a wide range of people, among them some scientists, a housewife, a simple farmhand, and some monkeys. Super intellect - as it turns out - is not desirable for everyone, a lot of people go insane from suddenly thinking and perceiving too much. People who hold menial jobs now find repetition and lack of challenge intolerable so they quit in droves. While this is not a post-apocalypse world it does have a similar feel to it, with government breaking down, people deserting their jobs, and pigs attacking people! This is a very short novel (175 pages) so not a lot of time is spent on character development, I do like the farmhand plot strand, though, it has a Flowers for Algernon vibe to it (without the tragic ending). The average housewife's story is also poignant. Andersen's prose is as highly readable as ever, his science background is once again put to good use. I like his explanation (not infodump) of how this Brain Wave came about, for Tau Zero fans (often cited as Anderson's best book) there is a little subplot that does something different with the runaway spaceship idea.This is an excellent little book, well worth anybody's time. It may not actually boost your intelligence but may give it a wee nudge in the right direction!

  • David
    2019-01-10 07:33

    Throughout earth's history, it has been in a region of the galaxy where some sort of force field has inhibited the activity of brain neurons. As the solar system spins around the galaxy, the earth exits this region, and almost overnight, all living creatures with brains are impacted. Brain neurons fire more rapidly, and as a result, they all become smarter. Smart people become geniuses, morons become very smart, and animals gain in intelligence as well.Society turns upside down. People who previously had an inner purpose in life, some aspiration or goal, use their new boost in intelligence to their advantage, and to society's advantage as well. People who previously had no goals, ambitions, or purpose in life have great difficulties--they still retain their old personalities, their superstitions and prejudices, and become despondent or even violent. The story follows several people through these changes; a scientist, his wife, and a low-intelligence farmhand.While the premise is brilliant, the execution is not. It bothered me that during the faster-than-light space travel, relativistic effects were ignored--a science fiction writer should at least mention these effects, and try to make the consequences seem plausible. Also, so much of the plot is quite predictable. The dialog is often trite. While some reviewers complain that the book is too short, I am glad that it is not longer.

  • Sandy
    2018-12-25 09:43

    It seems as if I have read a lot of articles recently on the so-called "dumbing down" of society, and of U.S. school kids particularly. I'd hate to think that these stories have a basis in reality, but still, consider the facts: In the most recent two-hour PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests, given every three years around the world to determine students' abilities in reading, math and science, U.S. schoolchildren came in at only the 35th place (among 64 countries) in math skills, and at only the 27th in science (Singapore and Hong Kong came in at No. 1, respectively). A schoolteacher friend of mine was remarking just the other day how poor his grade-school kids are at problem solving; a wave of anti-intellectualism seems to be gaining traction; and I've noticed that half the folks during my NYC subway commute are either playing "Candy Crush" or are engaged in some other video game, rather than reading a book or newspaper, as would have been the case 10 years ago. (And let's not even discuss those hilarious old Jay Leno "Jaywalking" segments!)How refreshing for me, then, to come across a book that has, as its central conceit, the notion that mankind might someday grow vastly MORE intelligent...and not just mankind, but all sentient life on Earth, as well. The novel in question, Poul Anderson's "Brain Wave," made its first appearance in book form (a 35-cent Ballantine paperback) in 1954, although its opening chapters had appeared the year before in the eighth and final issue of the short-lived pulp publication "Space Science Fiction." In 1997, four years before his death at age 74, Anderson remarked that it is one of the five novels for which he’d like to be remembered, and now that I have finally read "Brain Wave," I can see why.The book's fascinating central premise is this: For the last several hundred million years, Earth's solar system had been passing through an area of space that contained an inhibitory field of sorts; a field that slowed down the neurons of all living things. As "Brain Wave" begins, Earth is finally emerging from this light-years-wide field, with the result that the IQs of most human beings quadruple, to around 500, and even the animals of the field become vastly more intelligent. Anderson's book tracks the progression of this new era by focusing on a few central characters: Peter Corinth, a physicist at the NYC-based Rossman Institute, a think tank that is one of the first to discover the reason for humanity's great change; Sheila Corinth, Peter's wife, who cannot adapt to her newfound brain power and suffers a literal mental breakdown as a result; Felix Mandelbaum, a labor organizer who rises to prominence after the great change engenders a host of world-altering dilemmas; Nat Lewis, a Rossman biologist; and finally, Archie Brock, a mental simpleton before the change, but now left in charge of millionaire Rossman's upstate NY farm, seeing to the suddenly rebellious pigs and cows (for some reason, those attacking farm animals brought to my mind the similar ferocious domestic critters in the 1956 sci-fi film "Beast With a Million Eyes") with the assistance of some escaped circus animals--an elephant and two chimpanzees!Long considered a classic of sorts, today, "Brain Wave" seems to enjoy a mixed reputation. Writing of the novel in his "Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction," Scottish critic David Pringle tells us the book is "fondly remembered" but that "it has not worn well, and the writing now seems thin and clichéd." On the other hand, "The Science Fiction Encyclopedia" has called it Anderson's "most famous single novel, and possibly his finest." Personally, I tend to agree more with the latter statement, and despite my respect for Pringle's opinions (I have cited him often in my reviews before), must confess that I have no idea what the heck he is talking about here. "Thin and clichéd"? Is he serious? I found Anderson's writing to be almost poetically beautiful in spots ("How heavily the sea rolled! Even indoors, he could hear it grinding against the shore, tumbling rocks, grinding away the world like the teeth of time. It was gray and white to the edge of the world, white-maned horses stamping and galloping, how terribly loud they neighed...."), and found his thoughts on the ramifications of a suddenly brilliant humankind very insightful. In "Brain Wave," humanity initially breaks down after the change due to panicky fear, an upsurge in crackpot religions (such as the hedonistic rage called the Third Ba’al), and the refusal of a suddenly hyper-intelligent populace to perform menial labor. I did not find this last plot point as implausible as some readers apparently have, and indeed, can well identify with a worker who feels that he/she is droning away in a job for which he/she feels overqualified. For me, Anderson's prose was highly moving and convincing on this score; to wit: "You take a typical human, a worker in factory or office, his mind dulled to a collection of verbal reflexes, his future a day-to-day plodding which offered him no more than a chance to fill his belly and be anesthetized by a movie or his television--more and bigger automobiles, more and brighter plastics, onward and upward with the American Way of Life. Even before the change, there had been an inward hollowness in Western civilization, an unconscious realization that there ought to be more in life than one’s own ephemeral self--and the ideal had not been forthcoming. "Then suddenly, almost overnight, human intelligence had exploded toward fantastic heights. An entire new cosmos opened before this man, visions, realizations, thought boiling unbidden within him. He saw the miserable inadequacy of his life, the triviality of his work, the narrow and meaningless limits of his beliefs and conventions--and he resigned...."Anderson fills his novel with many surprising twists, including the construction of mankind's first faster-than-light starship, and the subsequent shakedown tour of the nearby galaxy that Peter and Nat engage in; a budding romance between Peter and his fellow Institute coworker Helga; and a secret cabal planning to construct a device to revert mankind back to its pre-change intelligence levels. Curiously, mankind even manages to invent a new shorthand language for itself after the change, incorporating gestures and other visual cues, and Anderson repeatedly lets us see this new language at work, employing words in parentheses to indicate what is unspoken, and words in italics to indicate what is merely thought. I know that a lot of readers here prefer to listen to audiobooks rather than to read in the traditional sense, but feel that "Brain Wave," for this very reason, simply could not work as an audiobook. I just can't see how any narrator could possibly communicate these parenthetical and italicized elements. (Similarly, I don't believe that Alfred Bester's "The Demolished Man" and "The Stars My Destination," with their various fonts and illustrative typography, or H. Rider Haggard's "She," with its reams of Greek, Latin, Old English, black letter and uncial lettering, could ever be conveyed via audiobook, either.)Good as it is, "Brain Wave" yet comes to us today with some minor problems. The mention of "Idlewild" Airport and the "Belgian Congo" inevitably dates the book a little, and several plot points (a native revolution in Africa being abetted by superintelligent apes; a Russian revolution being abetted by telepathic "Sensitives"; a Chinese philosopher who walks the land, training the people in the power of the mind) are raised over the course of a few pages, only to peter out and never be addressed again. I am hardly the first reader to acknowledge that the book is a little on the short side, especially for a story so universal in scope and far reaching in consequence. Anderson's book could easily have been twice as long, or--as mankind prepares to leave Earth and reach for the stars--merely the opening salvo in a GREAT CHANGE series. Still, what we have here is fairly dynamite: beautifully written, well thought out, involving, and ultimately, quite touching. Indeed, the final chapter even left me a little misty eyed. Thus, I do highly recommend "Brain Wave" to all readers. You will surely find it more edifying than a game of "Angry Birds," that’s for certain!(By the way, this review initially appeared on the FanLit website at ... a most excellent destination for all fans of Poul Anderson....)

  • Jim
    2019-01-02 04:55

    Written in the mid fifties, this book postulates what would happen if the Earth emerged from a ray that dampens intelligence so we are all suddenly a lot smarter. So are animals. This is pure SF, one of my early reads & the reason I kept reading it. No, it's not perfect, but there is a lot of room for thought here & Anderson does a great job of providing it.

  • Maria
    2019-01-01 10:48

    Cu milioane de ani în urmă, întregul sistem solar a intrat în sfera de influență a unui câmp de forță electromagnetică care a inhibat funcționarea unor tipuri de neuroni, limitând astfel dezvoltarea ulterioară a vieții și inteligenței pe Pământ. Dar iată că datorită mișcării orbitale a sistemului solar în jurul centrului galactic, Terra a ieșit din câmpul inhibitor iar oamenii și animalele au experimentat brusc o creștere explozivă a inteligenței. Deodată, întreaga lume se schimbă. Sistemele politice se prăbușesc, valorile sociale se răstoarnă, oamenii înnebunesc… până și animalele se revoltă împotriva așa-zisei ordini naturale. …dintr-odată, aproape peste noapte, inteligența umană explodase spre înălțimi fantastice. Un cosmos nou se deschidea în fața acestui om, viziuni, vise de împlinire, gânduri fierbând în el, dar nechemate. Vedea lipsa de scop a vieții, trivialitatea muncii lui, limitele înguste și fără rost ale credințelor și convențiilor la care ținea – și se resemnă.Așadar, întregul Univers e la dispoziția oamenilor, iar aceștia nu știu ce să facă cu el… Umanitatea și-a pierdut sensul și identitatea, tânjind după inocența dinainte, după speranțe, iluzii, căldură și apropiere. Dar nu mai prețuim lucrurile din trecut, decât ca instrumente pentru strădania animală de a supraviețui sau de a trăi în confort. Gândește-te la propria-ți viată. Îi înțelegi rostul? Care sunt realizările tale din trecut? Ridicole! Acum poți să citești cu plăcere ceva din marea literatură? Îți mai transmit artele vreun mesaj? Civilizația trecutului, cu știința, arta, cu înțelesurile și credințele ei, este atât de neadecvată acum, încât ar putea să nici nu existe. Nu mai avem civilizație. Nici scopuri, vise, opere creatoare – nimic! Chiar mi-a plăcut cartea asta - mi-a plăcut ideea (deși e înspăimântător să îți dai seama că, în ciuda inteligenței, oamenii rămân meschini, răi, egoiști și ușor de manipulat), abordarea elegantă a ceea ce definește umanitatea ca specie și omul ca individ; mi-aș fi dorit totuși o poveste mai dinamică și niște personaje mai complexe (și încă vreo câteva sute de pagini ;))). - Tot ce știu, tot ce simt, e aici, în cap. Totul există pentru mine doar în măsura în care cunosc. Și într-o zi o să mor. – Un firicel de salivă i se prelinse din colțul gurii. – Într-o zi va coborî marele întuneric, eu nu voi mai fi... nimic nu va mai exista! Poate că tu vei mai exista, fiindcă tu... deși cum aș putea ști că nu ești doar un vis de-al meu? Dar pentru mine nu va mai fi nimic, nimic, nimic. Nici măcar nu voi fi existat.

  • Denis
    2019-01-19 06:51

    I really loved this book after I finished it. As I read it, it did have all that stuff that Anderson does that sorta irks me from previous books of his, such as overly sentimental soap opera small talk between 'important' scenes. That aside, there are many beautiful descriptive, almost poetic prose at the start of each chapter, setting the scene. The overall premise of the story is absolutely great: We humans and animals here on Earth had been impaired for many millennia by some cosmic field. We have, however, as all other living creatures do on this planet, adapted and in spite of this impairment, managed to evolve as intelligent beings just the same, but as this field moved on, we, human and animal, were flung to super intellect. Pretty darn cool. Much opportunity to speculate how we would cope and how we would exploit such a situation. And Poul Anderson did a first rate job with this (and this, quite early in his career - 1954). As I have mentioned, little slight annoyances, such as a two tier class of citizens - enlightened geniuses who longer feel the need to stay on Earth and the 'gone insane' and somewhat now smarter morons (apes included) those having the pleasure of doing the laborious work such as building and farming and keeping the 'machine' going while the 'enlighten' ones spent their time doing a lot of thinking... This element was a little off for me, tough not entirely. It does reflect a little in a way, our current world; for example, most farming in North America is done by seasonal migrant workers from less affluent countries.In the end, a good read. An original and well told story. It seems to me that I favour P. Anderson's earlier work over the later stuff thus far - not enough data as he was so prolific and I have but scratched the surface as of yet.

  • Jim
    2019-01-20 06:36

    Posit a galactic field that reduced our ability to think. We develop our intelligence & technology under the influence of that field & then we move out from under its influence. Suddenly everyone on the planet doubles their IQ. What would happen to our civilization, to the everyday people? That's the basis that Anderson uses for this book & it's well done.

  • Fantasy Literature
    2019-01-14 04:43

    Brain Wave: A fascinating idea3.5 stars from Kat and 4 stars from Sandy, read more at FANTASY LITERATURE

  • Carlex
    2018-12-25 07:01

    A great classic. If you have not readed this novel yet I recommend it to all the science fiction readers.

  • Aries
    2019-01-08 07:00

    Può capitare che mi accosti a un libro sottovalutandolo.Per qualche motivo sono curioso di leggerlo, ma non mi aspetto granché, solo di passare un po' di tempo piacevolmente.A volte mi ritrovo ad aver ragione, alcune capita addirittura che nonostante tutto il libro mi deluda, altre, più rare, rimango piacevolmente stupito.Come si sarà intuito, quest'ultimo è il caso di Quoziente 1000, di Poul Anderson.Immaginatevi che, da un giorno all'altro, tutti gli essere viventi vedessero la prima intelligenza aumentata di dieci volte.Persone intelligenti che diventano geni.Persone meno fortunate che diventano sveglie.Animali che imparano a liberarsi di barriere, catene.Cosa accadrebbe?Tutto migliorerebbe di colpo?O nascerebbero solo nuovi problemi?Nuove "sottospecie" di umani, nuove religioni, nuove alleanze, nuovi stili di vita.Gente che faceva lavori manuali che non si sentirebbe più stimolata.Animali che, consci di essere schiavi, si ribellerebbero quasi sempre.Nuovi linguaggi più vicini alla telepatia che alla lingua parlata.Ci sarebbero le potenzialità per costruire qualcosa di nuovo ed enorme, ma contemporaneamente tutto il passato diventerebbe insignificante, come per un adulto i ricordi di un giocattolo di quando era neonato.Le leggi? Tutte in discussione sulla base della razionalità personale.Il pudore? Pure.I governi nazionali? Nati per governare persone molto meno intelligenti.L'intelligenza si mostrerebbe come arma a doppio taglio.Qualcuno la accoglierebbe a braccia aperte, diventando più conscio di sé e del mondo, ma altri impazzirebbero: tutti questi pensieri, tutte queste diramazioni, tutte queste conseguenze.Semplicemente, ci sono persone che non sono abituate a pensare sul serio e che, se ci si ritrovassero, non saprebbero come reagire; uno dei personaggi riassume parte del concetto così: Perché non vogliono [capire]. A parte quelli che sono impazziti e che sono un fattore importante. Resta il problema di avere, oltre al cervello con cui pensare, anche qualcosa a cui pensare. Prendi milioni, centinaia di milioni, di persone che non hanno mai avuto, in tutta la loro vita, un solo pensiero originale, e all'improvviso il loro cervello si mette a correre a cento all'ora. Tutti cominciano a pensare... ma che basi posseggono? Mantengono ancora le antiche superstizioni, i pregiudizi, l'odio, l'avidità e la paura, e gran parte della loro nuova energia mentale finisce a razionalizzarli in modo complesso.Quindi non è (solo) l'intelligenza a rendere un uomo meritevole. E' la curiosità, la capacità di mettersi in discussione, di crescere, imparare, evolvere. Chi ne è dotato diventerà un uomo migliore grazie alla nuova intelligenza, gli altri dovranno adattarsi o soccomberanno alla follia o alle sette.Un romanzo estremamente affascinante e lucido, quasi un trattato più che una narrazione vera e propria: esistono dei personaggi ricorrenti, più che principali, ma la narrazione non li segue passo dopo passo; piuttosto ci vengono fornite delle "fotografie" di vari momenti nel tempo, giorno dopo giorno, mese dopo mese, per mostrarci come il mondo legato a ognuno di essi si va evolvendo.Una gran bella sorpresa.

  • Paul Kemner
    2019-01-10 11:57

    I read this for a local sf club. I didn't think that the craft of writing was up to Anderson's usual level, even given it's from '54. But the concept was a great one.It made for some very interesting discussion, and I like the concept. I did disagree with the effect that greatly increased intelligence had on people. The general effect is that "normal" and smart people act like they have Asperger's syndrome. I'll use the computer as analogy. In our stereotypical view of a genius, one of the programs (i.e. the abstract thought/logic/math one)takes up all the space and processing power and the other programs (social interaction, survival, etc.) are rudimentary and low priority. Sheldon of TV's Big Bang Theory. We forget that some have a combination of better hardware and software- Da Vinci was good at a lot of different things. So what happens when everything with a brain gets a 5x boost? What happens in brainwaves is that everyone turns into a navel-gazing egghead. I think you'd retain your original suite of head-programs, but vastly upgrade them, and maybe write some new programs as well. So things are a too stereotypical in the book.The other part (a typical 50's assumption from a time of economic opportunity) is that only the "lower orders"- the mentally slow- will do the grunt work of society. Farming, driving trucks, picking up trash. There are still people in power that feel this way, arguing that we need a flood of unskilled illegal immigrants to keep things rolling along. But take a look at the ranks of "The Fallen"- people who had challenging, high-paying jobs prior to 2001. Now they're working part-time skut jobs or surviving by marginal self-employment. (A trivia Q: how many people were unemployed in the US in 1934? A: zero. "Unemployment" means "currently receiving unemployment insurance payments".) Back to the book: So no, I think that very smart people are capable of doing boring, dirty jobs. They may not be motivated to keep up with the Joneses, and it might be much harder to cow or exploit them. You might have to pay them more! Or develop some other method of motivation. And anybody could be a CEO, so the upheavals would be far more interesting.So yes, go ahead and read it. Just deal with the bad editing and other flaws and enjoy the good points.

  • Jamie Jamison
    2018-12-25 07:47

    I first read this book 30 years ago and as a teenager it blew me away. I recently read it again and found that it was every bit as good as I remembered. Anderson's characters are fully realized and his descriptions of the loss and displacement caused by everyone on earth, animals included, having their IQ suddenly and drastically increase, are detailed and moving. This novel was written 55 years ago but despite that it still holds up well, one of the few SF novels from the 1950s that does. I can't believe that Anderson didn't get the Hugo award for this, especially when you realize that the 1955 Hugo went to "They'd Rather Be Right" which is widely regarded as the biggest piece of crap that ever won the Hugo.

  • David
    2019-01-08 08:35

    This is an old sci-fi classic. The premise might seem a bit silly -- Earth suddenly passes through a region of space that causes every living thing's intelligence to increase by an order of magnitude -- but it's your typical "high concept" early sci-fi story. I haven't read it in many years, but I remember it being a good read, with the world truly changing as a result.

  • Caroline Eising
    2019-01-15 05:55

    Overall the concept of the story is interesting - what if everyone were suddenly super smart? Not Stephen Hawking or Einstein smart, but many, many magnitudes greater? What kind of chaos would that wreck on the world? Could it be a disaster of the same magnitude as a meteor strike, or is there a way around it? The book covers a lot of ground and throws out some intriguing scenarios. A number of points of view are covered, from the view of scientists to the everyman out in the country. It would have been fun to see the view of a family (parents and kids) but kids are hardly mentioned at all, the story sticking mostly to adults working individually or with their work colleagues. That left it feeling a bit impersonal - there seems very little chumminess between the protagonists (or may I'm mistaking the formality of the past for lack of friendliness, but nobody seemed particularly relaxed around each other, like the stiff convention of a business meeting).It's a bit rough to complain about a book from the 50's feeling dated - nobody would expect authors to be able to future-proof their stories - but I feel safe in saying that there are some aspects to this story that the modern reader might find a bit annoying.The attitude towards women is one - of the two main female characters, one is weak and witless for the majority of the time (except for one moment of suicidal bravery) and the other (a scientist!) while stronger and smarter, is seen as cold, 'cannot keep a man' and is rarely ever mentioned except in the context of her desire for the main male protagonist.Also, some of the language used is a bit of a curveball. It's easy to forget that words like 'moron' and 'imbecile' were once acceptable terms for people of less-than-average intelligence. Words for the intellectually disadvantaged have a very short half-life before they twist into insults, and any modern PC term is almost sure to become an insult itself some day. It's an good reminder of the evolution of language, but still uncomfortable.Despite these, it wasn't too difficult to read, and the questions the book posed were fun, but I would have a tough time recommending it unless someone was already a fan of classic 50's era science-fiction and willing to put up with it's quirks.

  • Steven Brandt (Audiobook-Heaven)
    2019-01-10 09:35

    At first, the changes were subtle. All over the world people began coming up with really good ideas. Before long, laboratories everywhere were churning out incredible leaps in deductive reasoning. Under normal circumstances it may have taken years to figure out what was happening but as average IQ’s climbed to 200, then 300, and higher, the answer seemed to come almost intuitively. For the entire span of life on Earth our galaxy, in its endless revolution through the universe, was passing through a cloud, or force field, that inhibited the full potential of our brain activity and now we were passing out of it. Finally it seemed that humanity would be able to solve its petty problems and rivalries and work together toward an enlightened state of being. But as it turned out, an increase in intelligence did not necessarily mean an increase in harmony. There were still those who would cling to the old ways and use their higher potential to further their own plans.Brain Wave was first published in serial form in ”Space Science Fiction” magazine in 1953 and in novel form in 1954. Stories about heightened intelligence were something of a fad in the science fiction genre of the time and Poul Anderson has said that he considers Brain Wave one of his top five novels.Poul Anderson tells this story from two different perspectives: one a scientist who is already very intelligent, and the other a farmhand who can’t even operate a car. This was a good way to tell the story because it kind of lets us see both ends of the spectrum.The first perspective is that of Peter Corinth, a physicist in New York City and a genius by pre-change standards. Through Peter’s eyes we see how a major metropolitan area is affected. At first it seems that the increased intelligence does more harm than good, as those in menial jobs like garbage collecting or janitorial work no longer want to do them. It is a struggle to achieve a new balance in society. On the other end of the scale it takes scientists no time at all to solve the problems of space travel and venture out into the galaxy. In an interesting twist that I’ve never seen in science fiction before, it turns out that humans are the most advanced beings in the universe.The second perspective is that of Archie Brock, a hand at a farm not too many miles distant from the New York City limits. Archie has been called a moron all his life and can’t even seem to operate a car with any success. All at once he begins to wonder why he had so much trouble with that as it seems perfectly simple to him now. Archie also begins to notice things about the world around him, which he never thought about before. What I like best about Archie’s perspective is that it lets us see how the animals are reacting. The change isn’t just happening to people, it is apparently affecting all living creatures. A rabbit suddenly understands how to open the gate on a trap it has just walked into and foxes learn how to open the latched door of the chicken coop. When Archie tries to hitch up two horses to a wooden plow they promptly stomp the thing to pieces. And in a scene eerily reminiscent of Animal Farm, the pigs break out of their pen and organize themselves into an attack on the feed barn before escaping into the surrounding woods. Throughout the rest of the story Archie has to watch out for the pigs and guard against them. It’s pretty creepy to think about how the various animals of the world might react if they suddenly became intelligent, but no creepier than thinking of how some people would react I suppose.Tom Weiner has done tons of voice-over work in movies and video games, particularly in the anime genre. I found him to have a good narrating voice, deep and resonant, but thought his intonation and inflection could be better.Steven Brandt @ Audiobook-Heaven

  • Christaaay - Christy Luis Reviews
    2019-01-04 06:31

    If everyone’s IQ was suddenly quintupled, how would our values and behaviors change? Poul Anderson’s slim novel, Brainwave, poses this question by sending the earth spinning into a new region of space that allows for uninhibited intellectual advancement. 1953. Included in A Treasury of Great Science Fiction vol II, ed by Anthony Boucher.What I Liked: I picked up this anthology from a library booksale for $1 and I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed Brainwave. It follows several characters of varying mental capacity and shows the effects of their skyrocketing IQs on their individual spirits and souls. As it explores these individual impacts, it also imagines how the country—and other countries—as whole cultures are affected. One of the especially fun (and frightening) aspects of the novel is how the increased intelligence affects animals and their relations with humans. (Let me tell you, pigs are not happy about their destinies.) Some reviewers complained that they would have liked the story to be longer (so that it could more fully explore the worldbuilding), but I actually liked the length—short and sweet! It covers everything of interest to me, although I, like others, might have enjoyed seeing how the “brain wave” affected countries beyond our borders. The ideas are all much more scientific than my review is making them sound, but I was far more interested in the psychological effects, so that’s what I’m focusing my review on. What I Didn’t Like: One aspect dampened my enjoyment: The hero patronizes his lover, a brilliant female scientist named Helga, and she just accepts his disrespect. She’s just an afterthought, a tool to serve the main guy’s needs, and she doesn’t seem to mind. The hero is really pining after his sweet, beautiful, docile and stupid wife Sheila; but she, unlike his brilliant female scientist lover Helga, can’t handle the increased brain capacity. So he chooses Helga as next-best girl. The author wasn't saying, "Look at this poor pitiable woman. Even though she's a brilliant female scientist, she doesn't have the self-respect to demand better treatment from her potential lover." No, the author seems to hold this up as ideal—look how sweet and patient she is with the tortured hero! That makes her a heroine, in spite of her general lack of Sheila’s beauty and naiveté. No, thank you. I don’t align myself with the feminist movement, but this irritates me. (It irritates me equally when female authors treat male characters with similar disregard.) From what I hear, this is a common problem with early sci-fi—the women characters are, to put it nicely, cardboard.However, the author actually develops the first wife, Sheila, quite substantially and considerately and even gives her a whole profound character arc. His careful portrayal of the brain wave’s effects on Sheila’s delicate makeup—in conjunction with the fascinating developments of the mentally handicapped and the super-smart animals—by far make up for the indignity of the female scientist’s treatment. Helga was a minor character and her story didn’t come up too often in the scheme of the book, so thankfully I didn’t have to fume over her too often. Overall: Other than the one complaint, I LOVED this story. I loved the idea, the characters (mostly), their individual adventures and the worldbuilding, and I can see why the story was included in the treasury of great sci-fi. Great stuff.Recommendation: I think anyone who wants an intro to sci-fi would enjoy this one. It has that certain bracing optimism that I love about speculative fiction. I think the character-development will generally please character-driven readers like me.

  • Craig
    2018-12-29 11:32

    I heard about Brain Wave in 501 Must-Read Books. The premise sounded interesting: The Earth has been in a field inhibiting intelligence since the dawn of man, when earth passes through the anomaly intelligence increases overnight. Two problems prevented this book from reaching its potential. First, it was clearly written in the 50s so we see super intelligent humans creating more efficient vacuum tubes alongside faster-than-light travel. Also, the book is only 180 pages and while it addresses some interesting topics, such as what effect increased intelligence would have on religion and what is going on around the world, it never goes into these topics with much depth. Brain Wave does really well examining how intelligence impacts our respect for authority, societal organization and sense of self worth. If Anderson would have doubled the length of the book and kept the quality up this could have been a wonderful story, instead it was interesting but forgettable read. Although Brainwave has multiple points of view from around the world, some are very short and the book primarily focuses on two characters. Brock, a mentally handicapped farm worker who is raised to genius level intelligence and Corinth a research physicist who was a genius before the event an unfathomably smart afterwards. By focusing on these two characters Anderson tells his story by focusing on different parts of society. We see Brock come to terms with his new intelligence as he realizes his place in the world and for the first time understands how much smarter everyone else is. Brock is forced to adapt and take care of the farm he worked as when all the other workers become bored with their jobs and leave. His sections also focus on how animals react to the change and we see things like pigs are no longer content to be slaughtered and dogs are able to understand and communicate like never before. Much of the rest of the book focuses on Corinth and how he and his coworkers struggle to find meaning in their lives and help rebuild society. After everyone’s intelligence increases problems that seemed complex yesterday are now solvable by children. The world’s leading scientists have to find new problems worthy of their brains. We see how new political and religious leaders emerge and attempt to reorganize society and how people who can’t adapt to the changes fare in the new world. Of the two stories I think Corinth’s was more interesting. It dealt with some great questions like what really motivates people, are these changes for the best and where does authority stem.

  • Mathieu
    2019-01-10 03:32

    Le premier roman de Poul Anderson, suivi de trois nouvelles de ce même auteur.Le roman, comme les nouvelles, sont sur le thème de l'intelligence.Bien que l'écriture soit très datée, le récit est prenant et réussi. Par certains côtés, ce roman m'a rappelé La Force Mystérieuse dont Barrière mentale (Brain wave en VO) est un pendant un peu plus optimiste.Là où la force mystérieuse consistait en un affaiblissement de la lumière qui entraînait un affaiblissement des métabolismes et des scènes de panique généralisées qui plongeaient le monde dans le chaos, Barrière mentale inverse le raisonnement. Cette fois, ce n'est pas un affaiblissement, mais une augmentation de la capacité cognitive des espèces qui va se produire. Si là aussi cela donne lieu à quelques scènes de panique et quelques conflits, le roman est plus optimiste en ce sens que l'Humanité en sort grandie, capable de partir à la conquête des étoiles, et libérée des guerres et des mesquineries.Un message très positif donc, symptomatique de cette époque dorée de la SF américaine.Les trois nouvelles (Les arriérés ; Technique de survie ; Terrien, prends garde !) sont également de bonne tenue, chacune s'appuyant sur une facette différente de l'intelligence (la débrouillardise, le génie, la faculté d'adaptation...). Ma préférée reste Techniques de survie, qui met en scène une amusante fable temporelle où trois scientifiques triés sur le volet sont envoyés au Ier siècle après J-C, à la place de trois contemporains d'Auguste qui atterrissent en plein New-York. Ceux qui s'en sortent le mieux ne sont pas ceux que l'on pourrait croire...Cerise sur le gâteau, l'ouvrage se termine sur un court article critique sur Barrière mentale et sur l'état d'avancement de la recherche scientifique de l'époque en matière de mesure de l'intelligence. On remet ainsi en perspective le récit à la lumière des connaissances de l'époque, tout en voyant les points qui relèvent de la seule plume de l'auteur (et il ne fait pas que des suppositions bancales).

  • Kevin
    2018-12-25 05:53

    Frankly, my review for this book would be mostly about how terrible I thought "Flowers for Algernon" was. So, let's have at it:Flowers for Algernon was inane, wish-fulfillment garbage. It mostly taps into the presumed "outsider" feelings of its readership and is only tragic in that the nerd's fantasy did not last with the main character. The only real value was the technique where the writing changed style as the narrator grew in intelligence. And how silly was that displayed! Somehow, a personality that was not adept to research or critical thinking was able to dive into it after being injected with magical science goo. And, furthermore, he was able to pursue and consummate a romantic relationship with a professional teacher who observed him as a drooling Neanderthal. It was trite, it was tripe, it really did not have anything to say about the human psyche or how it would react to an increase of IQ.Not so with Brain Wave. In Brain Wave, the increased ability to process and handle information is not this magical gift... it's a catalyst for an immense struggle for the soul of humanity. What happens when your brain functions on such a level that you recognize tedious work for what is? What happens when all your past achievements look childish? Where the greatest works of art humanity had produced in history no longer stimulate the intellect? Where the futility of your actions in the great empty universe are grasped subconsciously? Brain Wave is about a world where every living organism has its IQ increased on Earth... the result is struggle against the fear that results, the chaos and societal collapse that engenders, and desperate effort to find purpose and meaning in one's existence when thousands of years of culture and experience are suddenly rendered mote. Poetic at times, Brain Wave causes the reader to ponder what role intelligence plays in 'being human'.And yes, there is, briefly, a monkey with a shotgun riding an elephant named Jumbo.

  • Louis
    2019-01-12 07:37

    Like a rare find, Brain Wave published in 1954 from one of the Grand Masters of Science Fiction, Poul Anderson, is a book to enjoy and not rushed through. At 164 pages, it can be a quick read. But it’s worth enjoying. In this novel Earth moves out of a field that had a dampening effect on the intelligence of all animals and people in the world. Quite rapidly IQs quadruple. “Morons” become what we are now in intelligence. The really smart have IQs in the 400’s. Animals are still lower than us, but can now reason. But man still has his emotions and faults, being super intelligent doesn’t mean everything becomes perfect. Civilization takes a huge hit as societies fall when the citizens question their governments. Workers walk away from factories bored by the work and not patient enough to stay around to help design the machines to replace them. Animals free themselves from cages. They know their lot in life now and rebel against it.Science Fiction novels from this “golden age” period were terse in length. It’s nice to be reminded how a good writer could write a tight story that almost seems like a novella now compared to the average 500 page novels of today. I realized part way though why I was reading this book so slowly. While I enjoyed the book I wanted it to be written to today’s length. This is a wonderful book with some fascinating ideas that I wanted explored more deeply. So I found that in reading slower I spent more time thinking of the implications. What else would go on? What has the writer missed? Why didn’t he also touch on this or that?While I would love to see a modern re-telling, Brain Wave will always be the seed from which it came.

  • Ensiform
    2019-01-05 09:33

    The Earth moves out of some kind of force field, and suddenly, all electromagnetic and -chemical processes change; not only do instruments go out of wack, everyone and everything with a brain triples in intelligence. For some individuals, this is liberating, albeit terrifying; some crack under the strain of such a jump. The human race as a whole, indeed, finds itself wondering what to do with itself.This is a pretty good piece of speculative fiction, the idea taken to its the limit. There are great bits, like intelligent chimps rising elephants and teeming with African tribes; the story of Brock, the one-time moron, is particularly resonant. Overall, it’s certainly a supremely optimistic view. As one character in the book notes, just because people are smart doesn’t stop them from doing stupid things like speeding or smoking; nor does intelligence always erase prejudice. Yet Anderson envisions a human race that, due solely to higher intelligence, (after a lengthy period of great strife) transcends war, patriotism, and borders --- indeed, seems at the end to have formed into some unified collective mind: “the human race is leaving Earth to the animals.” I’m not so sure that all this necessarily follows from increased intelligence, even such an exponential leap in brain activity; but I see that Anderson is actually painting humans as the wise celestial visitors that most SF authors depict alien beings as. It’s sort of a nice touch. [Read twice]

  • Michael Battaglia
    2019-01-15 12:01

    What happens when the ranks of Mensa could be expanded to include, oh, everyone? And most of those newcomers would look at the members of Mensa like you look at a bunch of adorable toddlers suddenly discovering that some blocks are round and some are square? Poul Anderson tries to answer that question and, more importantly, navigate the potential narrative problems that come when someone who isn't an Einstein level genius has to figure out how to give a whole book of Einsteins problems that can't be solved in two pages.In one of those problems that only people in SF have, we learn that for most of our existence the Earth has been moving through an energy damping field that kept us from achieving the full measure of our intelligence and consequently leading us to believe that we needed sequels to both "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever". Fortunately for us the planet moves out of the field some time after WWII has ended, as the chances of everyone suddenly getting smarter while trying to make atomic weapons would realistically only end in a ballet of mushroom clouds trying to elbow each other out of the way like the elephants in Dumbo's nightmare sequence instead of everyone stopping to go, "Hey, is this the best use of our time?"But the exit from the cloud suddenly doubles the IQ of everyone in the world and by "everyone" that includes animals and while the book doesn't turn into some weird amalgamation of "Animal Farm" and "War for the Planet of the Apes" (though for one brief moment it looks like it might head that way) it does mean that simple things like trapping rabbits and keeping pigs in a pen become Road Runner/Wily E Coyote wars of escalating plans. That alone would have made the book kind of fun and I wouldn't have automatically turned down an entire novel watching farmers combating domestic animals gone wild but Anderson's got a bit of a broader view than that.Somewhat pressed for space (I know I've talked about enjoying the density of 1950s SF novels but at 160 pages this one seems absurdly compressed for the concept) he divides the book into roughly three sets of people that all intersect at various points. On the one hand we have the farmer section, where a former mentally disabled farmhead becomes a genius by our current standards and decides to make do while every other farmer gets tired of their cows looking down on them and bails. Those sections have the most variety even as they flirt with "Flowers for Algernon" territory but at least they feature someone trying to reason through some tough problems and build a new life.The rest of the book focuses on a couple of scientists and their friends. Suddenly grasping quantum physics as easily as Keanu Reaves grasped kung-fu in "The Matrix" they set about using their newfound ultra-intelligence as best they can and subsequently get a front row seat for the transformation of society. Here's where Anderson does his best to explore what would happen if everyone becomes super-smart and while you could quibbles with some of the particulars like nobody wanting to do menial labor anymore (I understand that maybe geniuses don't want to be dishwashers or janitors but wouldn't they be more interested in finding smarter ways to accomplish that stuff . . . and its not like don't have hobbies that allow them to veg slightly) he captures the feel of a society in flux both on a macro (the economy changing, new technologies coming to the fore) and a micro level (the language shifting and becoming more subtle between people) and in doing so relays not just how it feels to understand more than you ever imagined but to struggle with understanding what exactly that understanding means.And that last bit becomes most important when following one of the scientists' wives, Sheila who was quite content with being a devoted housewife until she gets super-smart and suddenly can't handle the onslaught of existential crises that develop when you start understanding the stuff that before you really didn't bother thinking about. Anderson handles her scenes sensitively and her gradual downward arc is the closest the book gets at times to a tragically beating human heart, as she starts to lose her sanity. He seems to be gently suggesting that being catapulted into genius level intelligence isn't everything its cracked up to be and for some people a degree of ignorance may be warranted. You can debate how condescending it is for the formerly meek housewife to get smart and risk losing her mind (the other main female character is a another scientist that comes across as almost manly in her demeanor, so make of that what you will) but he does his best to illustrate the downside of the change, even if the example itself is very of its time.It highlights perhaps the biggest problem in the book, one that I alluded to earlier . . . for all the stuff that Anderson is trying to cram in here, its just too much material for too little space. He writes with the remarkable economy that comes from someone probably under intense pressure to keep it reasonably short and in doing so gives us only extremely narrow slices of cross section that either don't address aspects of this new society beyond a surface skimming or ignore it entirely. "The world" is mostly US-centric and we get brief mentions of what's happening in China and Africa but that's about it. We also don't get much of a feel for what crime must look like in this new world. Although with the previous economy in shambles there isn't as much incentive to trick smart people into elaborate Ponzi schemes you have to figure there's always going to be people willing to prey on others (nor does he deal with psychopaths also suddenly becoming geniuses, although it feels like every psychopath in literature already is one) and there could be an interesting book in hyper-intelligent criminals engaged in a war of wits with hyper-intelligent cops.What we do get though is enough of a concept to have it continually be counted as one of Anderson's best novels and one of the better SF novels of the 1950s . . . at a time when a lot of people were still doing rayguns and aliens he took a more thoughtful pose and even if he couldn't give the idea the room it deserved by focusing on what makes people ultimately tick he wound up exploring places that even his most galaxy spanning contemporaries didn't quite yet dare.

  • Esther
    2019-01-03 11:01

    I read this because it is a classic and because it was on my shelf. It was interesting but I can’t say I truly enjoyed it.Naturally it felt dated. Sometimes that was amusing:“then a stop on Mars where Lewis went wild over some of the adaptations he found in the plant forms”But I found the frequent use of ‘moron’ jarring. Also, as is so frequently the case in older sci-fi, the women were either wives or secretaries. Of course, it was a women who became insane because she couldn’t handle being so smart!!! And the only women with a career was described in terms of the emotional support she gave to an unobtainable man.However the real problem for me with older sci-fi is that they are so speculative. There is no story with a beginning middle or an end and the characterizations can be a little wooden or cold.The author takes a premise and then explores it, waxing philosophical on how man (they mean human beings but say 'man) is affected by it all. This was a bit too much for me, both overly melodramatic and boringly technical. I also found the attempt to translate the new form of communication into dialog clunky and stilted. It made everyone sound like 1970s robots. And everyone is so miserable. Becoming so clever is claimed, in a pompous fashion, to be a step forward for humankind but the world is cold and sad.This book was interesting as a classic but hasn’t turned me into a Poul Anderson fan.

  • KatHooper
    2018-12-29 07:38

    Originally posted at FanLit:Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave has a great premise — for millennia, unknown to scientists, the Earth has been under the influence of some sort of field that dampens the speed of neurons in the cortex. But now the Earth has suddenly passed out of the field and immediately neurons start working faster, making everyone’s IQs (man and animal) escalate dramatically. This sounds like a good thing to me, but perhaps it’s not in Poul Anderson’s mind. In his story, human civilization changes drastically, and mostly not in positive ways.The story follows several characters: a physicist named Peter Corinth; Sheila, his timid and dull-witted housewife; a mentally-handicapped farmhand named Archie Brock; and an official named Felix Mandelbaum. Each of these characters experiences a large jump in IQ which causes a change in their circumstances. Each of them deals with this change differently as Poul Anderson... Read More:

  • Patrick Scheele
    2018-12-27 09:40

    An interesting premise: what if everyone suddenly became a lot smarter? We don't get a lot of story, though. There's a lot of whining about how hard it is to be so brilliant. How do you spend your time when all the old books and poems and music isn't good enough for you anymore? In this book, Poul Anderson imagines people will be panicking a lot, even though there's no real reason to do so.In the end, we get told that people are beginning to prepare to "leave". Only, there's nowhere for them to go! All these 500+ IQ people have shown no interest in the much less intelligent alien races and I don't buy into the premise that a high IQ means you automatically become extremely fascinated with astronomy or something. Once you've seen a couple of supernovas, you've seen 'em all.It's too bad the writer had a great idea for a story premise, but couldn't manage to write a believable, entertaining story around it.

  • Christopher Sutch
    2019-01-11 11:49

    In some ways Anderson has imagined the future he posits very well, but most of the time this book comes off as merely pretentious, bigoted, and ridiculous. It hasn't aged well, in other words. Especially irritating to my socialist sensibilities is Anderson's usual denigration of workers. Here he literally equates them with animals and suggests that they are irresponsible and unlikely to contribute to the future of the human race. This is ironic because, here as in other libertarian imaginings certain sf authors, (and to paraphrase a comment from this book), "the problem of money had yet to be solved." No kidding; if a libertarian ever had a coherent economic plan, the universe would come to an end.