Flowers for Algernon Paperback
by Daniel Keyes
Part of the S.F. Masterworks series
The classic novel about a daring experiment in human intelligence Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper and the gentle butt of everyone's jokes - until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental tranformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 13/01/2000
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9781857989380
Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.
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Review by theboylatham
Eight out of ten.
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone's jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental transformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.
Review by pauliharman
Brilliant, inspiring and moving tale of a simpleton undergoing brain-enhancement surgery and training.
Review by salimbol
This moving tale of a man with a very low IQ who undergoes an experimental procedure that dramatically increases his intellect is one of the best of the SF Masterworks series that I've read so far. The narrative is quietly gripping, as we follow Charlie's intellectual and emotional growth, and then - wrenchingly - his ultimately inevitable reversion. It ponders the social constructions of disability and intelligence, thankfully mostly eschewing sentimentality, and insists at all times on the personhood of the protagonist, regardless of which stage in his development he's at. Interestingly, it was more frank about sexuality than I would have expected (given it was written in the late 50s to mid 60s), and it had numerous female characters with distinct personalities and agency - another plus for me. Recommended.
Review by AHS-Wolfy
Charlie Gordon has an abnormally low IQ but has a drive to better himself that was instilled by his mother when he was a child. He voluntarily attends an adult learning centre so that he can learn to read and write. Seeing his devotion, his teacher recommends him as the first test subject for a radical new procedure that will increase intelligence by up to 3 times its current level. The experiment has been thoroughly tested on animals and the latest subject, a mouse named Algernon, is showing great signs that the change is permanent.Told in the form of progress reports written by Charlie, the reader gets to see and feel the emotions and change of character as the experiment takes hold and Charlie's intelligence increases to that of genius level. How is he affected when he realises those he thought of as friends who were always laughing around him were actually laughing <i>at</i> him and not <i>with</i> him. We get to learn of his childhood as long buried memories rise to the surface and we get to follow along as he builds up new relationships with those around him. How will Charlie cope when Algernon shows signs that the experiment might not be quite so lasting after all and that the same fate may await him?Not a hard science fiction book but one that examines society's actions to some of its less fortunate members and the psychological effects on the test subject himself. This is a well-crafted story that tugs at the emotional heart-strings and if you don't want to be seen blubbering in public then make sure you read the end while you are safely ensconced in a private place.
Review by CookieDemon
I have to say first off that I'm not a massive sci-fi fan, but that this is one of the best novels I have read in recent times. It had me engrossed all the way through and I can see why it is deservedly known as a classic. At times bittersweet, at other times dark, it is incredibly well-written and able to illicit all kinds of emotions from the reader. I think this is a book everyone should give a go at least once.The story follows Charlie Gordon, a floor sweeper with an IQ of 68 who agrees to a scientific procedure that may enhance his brain power. Once the unknowing butt of everyone's jokes, Charlie gradually becomes a genius, even successfully triumphing over Algernon, the lab mouse who previously beat him in experiments. It is only when he sees the suffering that Algernon eventually undergoes, that Charlie realises that the same fate may possibly befall him.The characters are so well crafted that I really felt that I knew Charlie and that he was a real person. I felt for his predicament and was moved by his trials and tribulations. Told through `progress reports' you really get a sense of how Charlie's brain power is developing through the spelling (or lack thereof) and grammar following the procedure. You feel his sense of isolation and longing to belong as well as his confusion. I felt so bad for him when he finally understood that people who he thought were his friends just saw him as a person to laugh it. It really does reflect on society's attitudes and how people are treated by others. The ending nearly had me in tears too- not overly sentimental but just fitting.As I've said, if this novel can appeal to me, a real non-sci fi fan, then I think it could convert anyone to the genre! I will be passing this on to my boyfriend to read and then seeing who else hasn't tried it and will be reading more SF Masterworks books soon. *This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk*
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