The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Patrick Cory, a middle-aged doctor, is devoting his life to the study of animal brains. The novel consists of a journal of his records. He has a patient, loving wife named Janice whose private fortune enables him to live in seclusion and spend his waking hours in his laboratory.

The crash of a private airplane gives him an opportunity to experiment with a human brain. One of the victims is Warren Horace Donovan, a business tycoon notorious for his ruthless methods. Cory keeps Donovan’s brain alive in a vat, with nutrient-fortified blood pumped through the brain tissue.

Donovan’s brain not only survives but grows larger and larger, until it threatens to fill its entire vat. The brain is free of the requirements of a normal brain of regulating bodily functions and attending to everyday concerns; thus it has a superhuman ability to concentrate. Cory is able to communicate with the brain by tapping messages on the glass in Morse code. The brain develops the capability of sending messages to Cory through telepathy. Cory’s alcoholic colleague Dr. Schratt warns against the possible dangers of such inhumane and unorthodox experimentation. Cory, however, is so obsessed with his quest for scientific knowledge that he is willing to risk his soul.

Cory finds that he is falling under Donovan’s power and losing his own identity. He gains access to Donovan’s bank accounts and safe-deposit box by knowing certain aliases and being able to...

(The entire section is 457 words.)