Mar 27, 2012

Poul Anderson - Brain Wave (1954)

At dawn, the rabbit pulled his nose to the bars of the trap, pushed them up... and was released. From now on, humanity's dominion over the animal world has ended.

Before breakfast, a ten years old boy tinkered with some mathematical signs on his own... and re-discovered calculus.

The national education system has become obsolete overnight. By midafternoon, Peter Corinth's office at the Institute for Advanced Studies was buzzing with excitement. The first reports arrived raging and Corinth was thinking of the consequences. It was too early for the world to understand what was happening.

Prepared or not, humanity was heading for a great exaltation of mind. A new era was beginning, more exciting and more intense and nothing would be again as it was.

Plot Summary (Wikipedia)

At the end of the Cretaceous period the Earth moved into an energy dampening field in space. As long as Earth was in this field all conductors became more insulating. As a result almost all of the life on Earth with neurons died off, causing the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. The ones that survived passed on their genes for sufficiently capable neurons to deal with the new circumstance. Now in modern times the Earth suddenly moves out of the field. Within weeks all animal life on earth becomes about 5 times as intelligent. The novel goes through the triumphs and tribulations of various people and non-human animals and groups on earth after this event.

Poul and Karen Anderson by Greg Bear, their son-in-law

The premise is fascinating in this thought-provoking novel. Worth reading although a little sad. 

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