Brain Plague by Joan Slonczewski
Hardcover, 384 pages
Elysium Cycle Series, 4th book
An intelligent microbe race that can live symbiotically in other intelligent beings is colonizing the human race throughout the civilized universe. And each colony of microbes has its own personality, good or bad. In some people, carriers, they are brain enhancers, and in others a fatal brain plague, a living addiction. This is the story of one woman's psychological and moral struggle to adjust to having an ambitious colony of microbes living permanently in her own head. This novel is one of the most powerful and involving SF novels of the year.
"Lord of Light."
"I see you, Green. why have you come.?"
“We pray you, give us our Promised World.”
“Every day you come to my eyes to demand a new world. Is it not enough that I saved you from death and sheltered you for seven generations?”
Green remembered that a generation of children grew old in a god’s day. Seven generations in exile; a mere seven days, for the Lord of Light. But in each generation, Green asked again. “The Blind God promised us a New World. Let my people go.” opening
Chrys knew real lava well enough, the heat rising like a blast of hell from Mount Dolomoth, where she was born. But Lava Butterflies was on display in Iridis, the planet Valedon’s fabulous capital. Never mind the brain plague, and the cancers crawling up from the Underworld; an artist made it in Iridis, or died trying. pg. 12
“There are ways to raise credit.”
Chrys eyed him coolly. “Like, I should join the slaves and rob a ship?” The “mind slaves,” their brains controlled by the plague, terrorized deep space.
Topaz frowned. “That’s no joke. The slaves took a friend of mine—nobody knows how they knew his flight plan.” The brain-plagued hijackers shipped their captives to the hidden Slave World, where they were building an armed fortress for their mysterious Enlightened Leader. The Valan Protector always pledged to find that Slave World and nuke it. But he hadn’t yet.
“Anybody could be a slave,” warned Pearl. “Anyone you know. At first you can’t tell, but they end up vampires.” “Vampires,” late-stage slaves with jaundiced eyes and broken veins, stalked the Underworld for a neck to bite before they died. pg. 14-15
Pearl shook her head. “Brain enhancers come from the mind slaves.”
“No,” said Chrys. “Brain enhancers are cultured cells. They boost brainpower—like mental mitochondria.”
Zircon repeated, “I don’t know.” His eyes widened. “What if they turned out smarter than me?”pg. 18
A mass of something was oozing heavily up along her foot. Cancerplast; a piece of a building root that had gone wrong, like a cancer that metastasized, its cells creeping blindly in search of a power supply. Usually plast metastasized only down in the Underworld, where inspectors never came. But here was a blob of cancer right up in her neighborhood, within two blocks of her own apartment. And nearby lurked a vampire. pg. 19-20
If brain enhancers could do all that, what might they do for her studio? Chrys had waited long enough for saints and angels. She blinked to close her window for the night, then set the volcano above her bed to explode at seven in the morning.pg. 23
“Green and Unseen.” The blue angel flashed its message from the Lord of Light. “The gods have found your New World.”
“Our New World!” flashed Green. “As the Blind God promised.” After seven lonely generations.
“A world of our own,” added Unseen, “behind the brilliant eyes of a new deity.”
“A new Eleutheria.” pg. 24
“They require human hosts; they can no longer live anywhere else. They are extremely intelligent, and extremely dangerous.”
“The brain plague, you mean.”
“Brain plague or brain enhancers. They’re genetically the same.” pg. 28
“Well, sure.” Intelligent buildings, intelligent medical machines—everything was “intelligent” these days.
“Intelligent people.”pg. 30
The doctor added, “You can meet the micros yourself and ask them your questions.”
“‘Meet them?’ Where?”
“Micros can’t live outside a human host,” the doctor said. “They live just beneath the skull, in the arachnoid, a web of tissue between the outer linings of the brain.” pg. 31-32