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The idea for this book is brilliant but I don't really feel that Poul Anderson did the idea justice, the story seemed to skip along the surface of some really intriguing ideas without ever really delving into them. I'd love to see what someone like Peter Hamilton could do with this idea, it just didn't seem very well explored.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Written in 1954 this book is very dated. Everyone, human and animal gets smarter. One poor housewife who was pretty but stupid, gets smarter, but the poor thing just was not built to be smart and she goes crazy. A guy who is almost a Moron, gets smarter and he becomes a great leader. There is one woman who has a job, she is handsome not pretty and she is an office manager, certainly not a scientist. PA tries to speak out against the atrocities against black, but in so doing, kind of admits that he thinks blacks are not as smart as whites.
PA also believes that when people get smart they leave the cities. There is the usual 50's bitch about using atomic bombs. People who drive trucks, work on assembly lines or do manual labor are stupid and when they get smarter they rather starve to death then do these jobs.
They story does move along very quick and there is some interesting talk about intelligence and what is it really. A like all the farm scenes and how the animals reacted to be smarter. An updated version by Robert Sawyer would be good.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
This is an interesting speculative work about "what if...humans suddenly became much, much smarter all at once?" It takes us some pretty interesting places, although I'm not sure I agree with all of the author's conclusions.
The plot is pretty simple: One day, something happens to the laws of physics and nerve cells suddenly become more efficient. Humans (and, as we see, other animals as well) become much more quick-witted and intelligent. What happens to society? There are several parallel threads, the main ones being the story of Dr. Peter Corinth, physicist and that of Archie Brock, farm-hand.
It was written in the 1950's and there are some attitudes about the role of women in society (especially Peter Corinth's wife) and how some of our society is based around the idea that very smart people are unwilling to do some menial and tedious (but essential) jobs. (This concept is also explored in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.) It also examines what it means to be "human" and what happens when not only the people but the animals become brainier.
Bottom line, and interesting thought piece.
Oh, and I like Tom Weiner's narration....he does a good job with this.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful