When I was in junior high school back in Ohio, Flowers for Algernon was one of the set texts for English class. I have a very strong memory of being very saddened by the novel, and in my head I still get it mixed up with Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, probably because they had similar protagonists and I had to read it at around the same time.
But I never thought about the science in the novel, as it would be many more years before I started being obsessed by its presence – or lack thereof – in fiction. But our deputy editor borrowed it from a work colleague recently and thought it might just qualify as lab lit. Today, he’s published a brief review on the site. Of course it is considered a classic of the science fiction genre, but the conceit of enhancing intelligence (the precise mechanism of which is glossed over a bit in the novel) is the only extraordinary aspect to the tale. And meanwhile, readers do get a glimpse of the scientific life of several characters plying their trade.
If you’ve read the book, we’d love to hear what you think about this issue. Could it be lab lit?