“progris riport 1 martch 3: Dr Strauss says I should rite down what I think and remember and every thing that happins to me from now on. I dont no why but he says its importint so they will see if they can use me. I hope they use me becaus Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart.”
When was the last time you read SF that made you cry your heart out? Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon as a novella in 1959. Since then generations of readers have followed Charlie Gordon’s journey from floor sweeper with an IQ of 68 to intellectual genius and back again, and wept into their hankies as they went.
It’s even more unsettling reading Flowers for Algernon today than in the 1960s, when neurologists are mapping the brain and discovering how much of what we think of as the self or as personality is dependent on what’s actually encoded in those little grey cells. Keyes was prescient, not just about the science, but in his recognition of how fluid our sense of our selves really is, and how tragic it would be to create a brand-new shining you, only to lose it all over again.