Daily Review: Of Half A Mind by Bruce M. Perrin
February 4, 2019
An imaginative, well-drawn book that will engage readers of suspense, mystery, sci-fi, horror, and technology.
When you talk to yourself, there’s only one voice. When you picture something, there’s but a single mind’s eye.
Recently graduated psychologist, Dr. Sam “Doc” Price and his inexperienced team had always held those principles to be true…at least, under normal circumstances. But as they studied the work of Dr. Ned Worthington, a brilliant but troubled neuroscientist, they began to wonder if he had created an electronic world that was anything but normal.
He claimed it could rewire the brain, repurpose sections of it for new uses. And the man who had used it was capable of remarkable feats.
But as their awe of what might be possible grew, so did their unease about what was implied. Just beyond what they could prove, there seemed a dark side of the technology and perhaps, a man who had succumbed to it.
Was he watching?
Was he coming for them?
And when Doc and his team finally secured the evidence they sought, only one question remained. Now that they knew, could they survive the truth?
By Robert G. Williscroft
This is an excellent hard science fiction novel by a really fine writer. Dr. Perrin has chosen to write “Of Half a Mind” in the first person, and it really works for me. This is a tale of neuroscience gone wrong in the hands of the “Experimenter,” and the efforts of Doc and his team, Nicole and Sue, to uncover the wrong and perhaps set it right.
There is a lot of real neuroscience here, skillfully blended into the dialog so that the reader hardly realizes the depth of learning taking place. The characters are real, although Doc might give some thought to accepting what Nicole is offering, and I would like to think that the “Experimenter” never will see the light of day as a living person in the real world.
I read the first version of this book (titled Half a Mind) and thoroughly enjoyed it in spite of the fact that I’m not usually a fan of techno-thrillers. It was loaded with technical descriptions of scientific research into the mind, most of which was in the first two-thirds of the book and was followed by some amazing action scenes nearer the end. Like I said, I usually wouldn’t like that type of book, but I think what drew me in was that the science it was based on had a basis in reality. And when I thought about that, it gave me the creeps.
So when I saw that Bruce Perrin had written a new version of this book, I had to give it a try. I’m glad I did. He did a fantastic job of blending the thrills with the science all through the book—not just at the end—and at no point does it bog down in too much scientific detail. He often leads the reader down a suspense-filled path that makes you sure you know what’s about to happen—and then something else does.
The basic story is the same in that the protagonist, Sam Price, works for a company that assesses research projects as the “disinterested third party.” He and his team, Sue and Nicole, are assigned to a project that started as a way to find relief from phantom limb pain in amputees but morphed into a study of how blocking brain waves in one hemisphere of the brain led to the other hemisphere compensating, which allegedly increased a person’s ability to learn.
When the scientist responsible for the study becomes violent and throws them out of his office, they become worried about their safety. The admittedly non-conclusive evidence leads them to believe he’s used the device on himself—and not to his benefit.
As I said, the basic story is the same as the earlier version, but some new characters have added more layers to the story, increasing the suspense and the chills. And there are quite a few chuckles, thanks to the character of Sue. The author has done a really good job of improving on what was already a good story, and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thriller based on scientific fact.
By Nancy Wood
Bruce Perrin has written with an imaginative, well-drawn book that will engage readers of suspense, mystery, sci-fi, horror, and technology. It provides fascinating insights into how the human brain operates.
Cognitive psychologist Sam Price, also known as Doc, along with two other scientists, Sue Jordan and Nicole Veles, is given the assignment of evaluating a device that’s up for continued government funding. It’s a standard operation: check the methodology, verify the analysis, examine the conclusions, study the physical device to validate it.
On paper, the device is promising: it allows the human brain to increase its capacity. In reality, however, the device has other uses, which come to light as the team members dig into their assignments. When one of the principal scientists working on the device dies, the intensity of the project picks up. The team recognizes they might be in danger from someone using the device for unintended ‘research,’ someone who will kill to discover its potential and keep it all to himself.
The scope of the science in this book is impressive, and I really enjoyed the pace with which the author revealed it. The details of the device and its impact on the human brain didn’t get revealed in long academic type lectures, or through one character’s expositions, which would have been easy to do. Instead, the science came through in conversation, as the scientists working on the project came to learn about the device they were tasked to evaluate.
The writing is taut, moving the story along. I found the dialogue realistic and engaging. And plenty of scenes in the book are downright chilling. The one thing that didn’t fit for me was that the police weren’t more involved in investigating the death of the scientist. But that said, I enjoyed the book and am giving it 4 stars. I noticed that this is a series; I’ll definitely be reading the next book to see what’s up with Doc.
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