martes, 21 de diciembre de 2010

Brain plague

Brain Plague

Brain Plague by Joan Slonczewski
Tom Doherty Associates, 2000
Hardcover, 384 pages
Elysium Cycle Series, 4th book
ISBN-13: 9780312867188
highly recommended

An intelligent microbe race that can live symbiotically in other intelligent beings is colonizing the human race throughout the civilized universe. And each colony of microbes has its own personality, good or bad. In some people, carriers, they are brain enhancers, and in others a fatal brain plague, a living addiction. This is the story of one woman's psychological and moral struggle to adjust to having an ambitious colony of microbes living permanently in her own head. This novel is one of the most powerful and involving SF novels of the year.

My Thoughts:

Brain Plague by Joan Slonczewski is the forth book in the Elysium Cycle Series (the other three are A Door Into Ocean, Daughter of Elysium, and The Children Star) but it is also a stand-alone science fiction novel. In many ways Brain Plague encompasses a treatise on symbiotic relationships between individuals and societies, nanotechnology (with the microbes), artistic creativity, free will and personal responsibility, and what it means to be a god.

On the planet Valedon a struggling artist, Chrysoberyl (Chrys), agrees to be colonized by Eleutherian Micros, an race of intelligent, sentient microbes. The Micros live just beneath the skull, in the arachnoid, a web of tissue between the outer linings of the brain. They communicate with her neurally and live an accelerated life -something like an hour for us is a year to them.

Chrys accepts the Eleutherians Micros originally for better health care and a healthy bank account, as well as protection against the other, plague carrying Micros but soon they are helping her with her art, and serving as collaborators all while living a very accelerated life. Chrys' Micros can be helpful, annoying and rebellious.

While parts of the novel are very intriguing it does become bogged down as Chrys deals with her own rebellious Micros and the ever present and repeated threat of Plague-carrying slaves. Even though I liked the concept of worlds within worlds and enjoyed Brain Plague in many ways, I'm not sure it was entirely successful for me.

The biggest problem I had was the flaw I perceived in communication between humans and their Micros. Chrys and her Micros talked in real time to each other and other carriers but the Micros are supposed to be living a very accelerated life which, logically, makes that communication impossible to accept. Additionally, she would also threaten them with an eclipse (shutting her eyes for a short period of time) but that darkness would already be happening when she slept. I also became very tired of the word "plast."

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