Thursday, 28 August 2014

Characters In Brain Wave

Poul Anderson, Brain Wave (London, 1977).

Mr Rossman owns the farm that employs Archie Brock and that becomes a post-change community led by Brock and also the Institute for Advanced Study that employs Peter Corinth, his assistants, Johansson and Grunewald, and his colleague, Nat Lewis, all of whom who study the change. Peter is the husband of Sheila, who cannot cope with the change, and a neighbor of Felix Mandelbaum, who becomes a post-change administrator. Thus, Rossman and Corinth are two unifying characters.

The change gives Brock, formerly a moron, an average IQ. Sheila, unable to cope with enhanced intelligence, restores her former normal IQ with electric shocks to the brain. Thus, Brock and Sheila are able to come together at the end of the novel.

Brock's community includes:

an imbecile, who does not seem to have been affected by the change;
a dog that understands English and can nod in agreement;
two talking chimpanzees, one of whom can play a guitar;
an enhanced elephant;
two ineffectual intellectuals, who ought to be ashamed of themselves - even if they lack all practical skills, can they not contribute to a theoretical understanding of the change and its consequences?

Enhanced human beings (literally) leave Earth in charge of people like Brock. A quiet, graceful airship with no visible means of propulsion lands vertically and Nat Lewis emerges through its shimmering hull. Corinth theorizes that engineering will soon reach a limit imposed by natural laws. Lewis skillfully and sensitively addresses Brock without patronizing him. People have learned a lot more than engineering. With both sanity and technology, there is, for the first time in history, no longer any need for a government or laws. Instead, there is an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

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