What If?

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Two “what if” stories

Poul Anderson – Brain Wave

“What if?”
What if the current limits of the human brain, as shaped up by its evolution, were kept under an inhibitor field? What if this field would be lifted, and the neural connections would speed up at rates unknown to mankind yet, leading to an IQ greatly exceeding what we consider today a genius? For everyone, for the entire human race.

Poul Anderson’s answer is this novel, nicely written, which focuses on psychological and sociological aspects, characters trying and succeeding or failing to cope with the situation, all in a setting based on plausible scientific hints.

 

John Brunner – The Webs of Everywhere

When I picked up this book, I had no idea it will be another kind of “what if”… A very powerfully written “what if”.
What if we do invent instant travel? You know, a cheap device, something the average person can afford to buy, and to place in their house, public parks, anything, anywhere; get in, get out on the other side of the world.
Come on, we all heard, or imagined, or read, (or have hopes!), about instant travel, so hey, what if?

I have read this novel a day after finishing Poul Anderson’s Brain Wave, the other “what if” on a different “wish” of humanity. But while Poul Anderson takes the reader step by step to follow the way humanity adapts to it, John Brunner throws them right in the middle of the life of people using it already as a matter of daily fact. What’s more, he uses the main character (you know, the character we readers typically expect to identify with) to directly push us in the mind of one who copes with it… in some way.

I don’t want to spoil the reading. I’ll just say that for me, he did so with complete success. The novel just <i>convinces</i>, without giving many explanations, and it’s one of those that stays in one’s mind.

Strangely, I understand from random internet searches that it’s one of the “less known” novels of John Brunner. That’s too bad, because it’s well worth reading.

 

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