The Experimental Fiction group (XFX) is currently reading Plus by Joseph McElroy. For those that are familiar with McElroy, Plus is uncharacteristically a very short book but full of the complexity that McElroy brings to his fiction. I first read Plus many years ago and have intended to reread it for years since I felt I had missed too much in my first reading. Now I get to do just that.
Plus is often described as “intellectual science fiction.” The story involves space exploration combined with the vast resources of the human mind … literally. Here is what the publisher wrote:
An engineer suffering from radiation agrees to have his brain removed and used as an IMP—interplanetary monitoring platform. Orbiting the earth in a satellite, the brain’s function is to monitor its psychological self as part of a solar energy project. When the brain begins to go beyond simple monitoring and reflect upon itself, it becomes more that an IMP. It becomes an IMP PLUS which grows and develops an imagination that releases images and fragments of memories from its terrestrial life and other rich and fascinating data. Eventually it develops an autonomous intellect and affective life and cuts itself off from ground control.
In the unraveling drama and fate of IMP PLUS, the reader senses an unsettling and disquieting allegory to the postmodern condition.
Although barely two-hundred pages, Plus is a novel that will engage readers of all types and ages. All it takes is a willingness to accept the possibility of the strength of the human mind, including our own. So burn your Stephen King and read something imaginative, profound, and quite well written: Read Joseph McElroy’s Plus.
Those looking for more books by Joseph McElroy to further challenge their minds should look for these titles:
- A Smuggler’s Bible 1966.
- Hind’s Kidnap: A Pastoral on Familiar Airs 1969.
- Ancient History: A Paraphase 1971.
- Lookout Cartridge 1974.
- Plus 1977.
- Women and Men 1987.
- The Letter Left to Me 1988.
- Actress in the House 2003.
- Cannonball 2013.