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Flowers for Algernon

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.

Flowers for Algernon is a very moving science fiction story written by Daniel Keyes[?]. It was originally written as a novella, winning a Hugo award for Best Short Fiction[?] in 1960 and it was later extended into a full-length novel by the same name. It has also been filmed as Charly and even made into a musical. But to many people, the most moving and successful version of the story is the original novella.

The story is about a young mentally retarded janitor named Charlie who volunteers to take part in an experimental intelligence-enhancing treatment. Algernon is a rat who is also 'enhanced'. The story is told from his point of view (Charlie, not the rat) and written as a journal which he was asked to keep as part of the experiment. Succeeding entries trace Charlie's ever-increasing comprehension and intelligence as the treatments continue, until he reaches super-genius level. All seems to be proceeding according to plan, with results light-years better than what had been anticipated, until a fatal flaw is discovered. The neural enhancement cannot be sustained, and the young man is doomed to return to his original self, with his decay recorded in the journal.

In Canada in January 1970, the Cranbrook School Board banned this grade nine text from the curriculum and the school library, after a parent complained that it was "filthy and immoral". The president of the BC Teachers' Federation criticized the action. This book was part of the BC Department of Education list of approved books for grade nine and was recommended by the BC Secondary Association of Teachers of English. A month later the board reconsidered, and returned the book to the library; they did not, however, lift its ban from the curriculum. [Mind War: Book Censorship in English Canada, p. 37; Not in Our Schools! p. 9]



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