(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Brain Rose is a novel of characters and ideas. The three main characters carry the plot, but secondary characters highlight their conflicts and offer interpretations of events. For example, Father Patrick Shahid leaves the Jesuits and defies the Catholic church to have PLAS because he believes that the coming memory evolution is the work of God. Colin Cadavy, Caroline’s brilliant actor father, lives by his wits and charm as Robbie has done, less successfully, in most of his past lives.

Joe McLaren shows the greatest character development. A man of good intentions but rigid behavior and beliefs, his involvement with Robbie and the memory crises leads him to reevaluate his life. He quits his law practice to work toward environmental cleanup and to give Robin and Angel the help he previously refused them. He still doubts the theory of the overmemory’s evolution and that he has any continuing role to play in it, but he is poised for further growth.

Robbie Brekke regresses, by normal standards. He becomes an excellent actor but has no ordinary memory left. Caroline’s primary change is in self-acceptance. Having seen better and worse lives in her own memories, she comes to value her present, imperfect life more.

The novel invents a near-future world affected by several concerns of the late twentieth century: epidemics, environmentalism and its backlash, new religious paradigms, and reincarnation. They make a heady mix, but...

(The entire section is 414 words.)