Flowers for Algernon


This is the sort of work that rarely seems to be written these days, and which would probably have been classed as literary fiction (maybe they are written and I just don’t read them).

It’s considered a classic, and the edition I read was released as part of the SF Masterworks series.¬†Although originally released in 1966, if anything it’s more relevant today, in light of more recent advances in medicine, especially gene therapy.

The story is told through progress reports submitted by Charlie Gordon, a patient taking part in an experiment to increase human intelligence, not to reach superhuman levels, but purely to help those with especially low IQs to become ‘normal’ people.

The progress reports, and the story in general, read like a condensed human lifetime. They start with Charlie almost child-like in both knowledge and naivete, rise through the peak of his intellect, and then chart his eventual decline back to a sort of senility.

While technically Science Fiction, it’s a story that focuses so much on the human at its core that it would have wide appeal, yet many people won’t read it purely because of the genre it’s been given.

An interesting and through-provoking read that comes with a warning for the future we’re already starting to meddle in (not that I think we should stop).

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This was a copy of the book

Reviewed: 2nd March 2014