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December 14, 2005

Flowers For Algernon - Daniel Keyes

Flowers For Algernon is about Charlie Gordon, who starts the story with an IQ of 68. Then he undergoes an experimental operation that increases his IQ to genius level.

I'd heard of this novel and bought it along with my other bulk SF masterworks purchases. With the cover proclaiming that it was the winner of a Hugo and a Nebula I had high expectations.

(The cover is slightly inaccurate, it won a Hugo as a novella, then won the Nebula as a novel).

Unfortunately the book didn't grab me. The plot was all too predictable. Admittedly the book is about much more than plot, but I found the simple story arc distracting, with little left to hook me in and pull me through the novel.

The writing is good, and clever, changing subtly with Charlie's IQ. (It's all written in first person point of view). Emotionally the book is quite full, but for some reason I can't pin down I just didn't feel affected, despite Charlie's story being quite tragic. Maybe it was because I couldn't empathise with Charlie?

So in the end the book felt to me like a clever idea dragged out into a novel, and loaded with emotion that failed to move me.


Too bad. This was one of my favorite short stories. (And one the many awesome stories in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume I anthology.) In fact, I was just telling a friend about this story earlier today.

Oh, and I'm incredibly, incredibly envious that you can go down to the local bookstore and purchase the Masterworks series in bulk. I think you know how much I love that series. Short of ordering from Amazon UK, I have to wait until they make the rounds in the local US used bookstores. :)

Even better, I got about 24 of the masterworks from a booksale at a local village hall for £1 each! The guy must have had a batch of seconds or something.

That rocks! Hmmmm...I wonder how much shipping to the states would cost...