Brain Wave
by Poul Anderson

The Earth has always existed inside a field that slows electromagnetic and neurological processes. This novel is about what happens when the Earth moves out of this field. All animals and humans start to think much faster. Dogs, elephants, pigs, and monkeys become as intelligent as men had been. People who had IQs of 80 now have IQs of 150. People who had IQs of 150 now have IQs of 500. Some people who were in the habit of avoiding thought do not like their new brains, and they join anti-mind religious cults or go crazy. Animals gain consciousness and moral agency. Domesticated animals start escaping and fighting for their rights. The heroís wife realizes how inferior her mind is to her husbandís and she canít cope with it. A group of geniuses who donít like the way mankind has changed conspire to develop a force field on a space satellite to return human brain power to its former level. Their plot is suppressed by other geniuses who decide to leave Earth in the hands of the former retards who now have the intellectual capacity that normal people used to have.

The first half of the book is fascinating. It drags in the middle as it gets into the psychology of the heroís psychotic wife. It makes anti-libertarian assumptions such as the need for central control of resources, rationing, script issued by the city government, and communism in the suburbs.

Year Read: 2001

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