Home > Sci-Fi > My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #2 – Flowers For Algernon

My Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novels: #2 – Flowers For Algernon

#2 – Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (1966)


This is the only book I’ve ever read that has actually made me cry.

Yup, this 200 pound dude has actually starting shedding tears while sitting and reading a book. This  book.

Algernon is a laboratory mouse which has undergone a procedure to increase its intelligence. When the procedure works, the scientists decide to try the procedure on a mentally challenged person named Charlie.

The book is written in the first-person from Charlie’s perspective. Charlie was asked to write progress reports before and after the experiment, and this creates a very unique reading experience.

The first few reports are before the procedure. Charlie has poor grammar, spelling mistakes and finds it difficult to write very much. But you gain a sense of connection with Charlie, especially when he discusses how he is treated by his family and co-workers.

As the procedure begins to take effect, Charlie’s writing becomes more lucid and he actually starts to do his own scientific research. He falls in love. Basically, he begins to live a normal life.

Then, Algernon begins to deteriorate, and Charlie wonders if the same will happen to him.

Despite being published 45 years ago, the themes of ethical scientific research and treatment of the disabled are still very much relevant.

It’s an incredible book that shared the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

“all my life I wantid to be smart and not dumb and my mom always tolld me to try and lern just like Miss Kinnian tells me but its very hard to be smart and even when I lern something in Miss Kinnians class at the school I ferget alot.”

- Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon

All Entries

#10 – Watership Down

#9 – The Harry Potter Series

#8 – The Wheel of Time Series

#7 – The Stars My Destination

#6 – To Say Nothing of the Dog

#5 – Doomsday Book

#4 – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

#3 – The Farseer Trilogy

#2 – Flowers for Algernon

#1 – The Martian Chronicles

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  1. August 13, 2011 at 10:21 am | #1

    If you consider that WWII left us 1984, Brave New World, it is not surprising that Flowers for Algernon can be read on a much deeper level than simply care of the disabled.

    Consider: our current understanding of the solar system includes the magnetic cloud Fluff that has periodically incurred all the way to the sun, compressing all in front of the wave and disassociating all matter behind it. The ISS depends on compressed ammonia and oxygen;
    right now the magnetic cloud is compressing the gases in front and myth says the compression won’t stop until 2013, so what will be the effect of the compression?

    Since compression is part of our genetic history, we may assume that various aspect of our environment will appear due to the compression. Science may claim ‘new species’, ‘new discoveries’, ‘new materials’, when if fact they are the result of compression and are merely making an appearance on the stage of Earth after being away on tour.

    And as surely as they appear the effects of compression will leave in much the same way as Flowers for Algernon. Remember how desperately Charlie tried to save his mind?

    What would the smarter of us do to preserve the fantastic advantages created during compression? Would they make a floating city with the benefits of compression? Might they justify this exclusion by claiming that by preserving their intelligence, they will be able to assist the rest of us without their benefits to a better life? Not their life of course.

    Tom Cruise in Minority Report talks with the founder of PreCrime and she says that in the end all life will do anything it can do to survive, survival is the only thing that matters.

    Russian scientist: Man, the beast, will get used to anything.

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