Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

This was the first book of my holiday reading, where I was going for the category of 'classic sci-fi'. Copyrighted in '66, the book feels of the period, without being too heavily dated. It relies very little on scientific jargon or devices (and where it does is where it's weakest), which rather helps. It's basically the story of a moron, Charlie, who is given treatment to make him into a genius, as seen from his point of view. The way he reinterprets the world, and effectively discovers the meaning of his childhood is rather effective. It also emphasises how extremely high and low intelligence are both alienating. And then Charlie discovers that the treatment may not be all that it's cracked up to be....

It's not great, flowery literature. It's not super-heavy sci-fi (the main plotline could be magically replaced by a miracle without massively affecting the impact). What it is, however, is a fairly thoughtful piece on human intelligence and behaviour. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it stands the test of time.

Posted 2007-01-21.