Monday, September 28, 2009

Daniel Keyes - A New Novel?

I made an interesting discovery last night while I was cruising the Internet. Daniel Keyes—the guy who wrote the classic science fiction story “Flowers for Algernon”—has a new novel titled The Asylum Prophecies. It is currently available at the online retailers and is likely in stock, or will be shortly, at most bookstores.

My only experience with the work of Daniel Keyes is “Algernon.” A story I read as a teenager, and a story that resulted in two heavy feelings: 1) awe at its simplicity and success; and 2) angst at the unfairness of everything.

A little about “Flowers for Algernon.” It was originally written as a novella length story in 1959—it won the Hugo Award that same year. It was then expanded to novel length—a short novel to be sure—in 1966 for which it won the Nebula Award. It is a truly wonderful story / novel.

It—“Flowers for Algernon”—is the only Daniel Keyes I have ever seen at a bookstore or library, and when I realized the Daniel Keyes on the cover of a new Leisure Book was the Daniel Keyes I had a moment of: This guy is still alive? He is still writing? On further investigation I discovered that, while he isn’t prolific, he has published other fiction and non-fiction. I just haven’t noticed it before now.

The new Keyes’ novel has an interesting concept, albeit a little strange. The description over at Leisure’s website reads:

Raven began the day in an asylum, a disturbed young woman with multiple personalities recovering from another suicide attempt. But now she holds a secret that could save thousands of innocent lives. Buried deep in her splintered subconscious are details of an impending terrorist attack against the United States—details that her kidnappers cannot let her reveal. As Raven summons all her strength to fight her captors, an American agent races across the globe to rescue her and find the key that will unlock her trapped memories before it’s too late.”

I don’t know if it is any good, but I do think it is worth a try; if for no other reason than “Flowers for Algernon” was so good. It is the Daniel Keyes; the guy who wrote “Flowers for Algernon” and literally blew my fifteen-year-old mind.

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