Monday, June 20, 2022

Five top extremely pessimistic SF classics

At James Davis Nicoll tagged "five intensely depressing SF novels from the long, long ago," including:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)

Told in a series of diary entries, Flowers depicts Charlie Gordon’s intellectual journey. Born intellectually disabled, Charlie is subjected to innovative medical treatments that raise his IQ of 68. He meticulously documents his experiences as his enhanced cognitive functions reach the average, then soar far beyond. Once pitied and mocked by those around him, now Charlie is a respected genius.

The downside to all this? Many downsides. For example, until his intelligence was amplified, Charlie had no idea how much those around him had been making fun of him. Were that not bad enough, he discovers that exceptional intelligence can be as socially isolating as a lower IQ score. Worst of all, the uplift process proves temporary and ultimately fatal. His cognitive decline is swift and brutal. Thanks to the diary, the suffering reader must follow Charlie’s every step towards oblivion.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue