Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Why I Read It: I felt like some classic scifi.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: It was short, and excellent. Need to feed your brain in a time crunch? This is excellent science fiction.

Narrator: Tom Weiner

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2011)

Length: 5 CDs

Brain Wave was my first Poul Anderson book, and it was quite good. Set in near-future Earth, this short novel (only 5 audio discs) opens with following a variety of people, of differing IQs, around in their daily lives. We have Archie Brock, with an IQ high enough to carry out menial chores once demonstrated, Dr. Corinth and Helga with several other scientists, and Sheila Corinth who is capable of seeing to herself and running a household.

The Earth, moving through the galaxy, and the galaxy moving through the universe, has moved outside of a dampening field. Over a period of weeks, the humans and other intelligent beings of the planet begin to change. IQs are rising. Poul Anderson did a masterful job of capturing the issues that could arise if everyone, humans and animals, all had a sudden increase in intelligence. How would governments and societies reform themselves? How would we learn to cohabitate with other intelligent species, like cows, horses, and pigs? How would we convince people to take care of menial, laborious tasks, such as garbage collection? How soon would we populate the stars? And the book ends with a sweet and hopeful scene.

Tom Weiner was our audio artist for this novel, and he raised the bar for single-person audiobook performances. His range of voices was impressive, capturing nuances of the moment. There was a plethora of accents called for in this novel, since it involved the whole planet. In addition, a few animal voices were required. I look forward to more of his performances.

What I Liked: Thought-provoking premise; Archie Brock was a moving character; the questions raised about how to treat livestock that can hold a conversation.

What I Disliked: I kind of wish Anderson had made this novel a big longer, to play with the idea a bit more.

Note: This review was originally published on on 06/30/2011 and republished, and reformatted, here with permission of Lady Darkcargo.

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