by Joseph McElroy

Imp Plus, a brain removed from an individual with a wife and child, begins to develop self-awareness as it orbits the earth in a space capsule.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.98
  • Pages: 216
  • Publish Date: July 16th 1988 by Carroll & Graf Publishers
  • Isbn10: 0881842893
  • Isbn13: 9780881842890

What People Think about "Plus"

Consciousness is a mysticism that works in one direction of time. It is right and holy and a protection that we don't remember learning the word Mother. So in penning a work that brings the Reader through that process where our wetwork receives the divine spark, McElroy shines the light.

Hesiods Theogony. cogito ergo sum --> science. What is it like to be a bat?

To give one example a brain, of course, has no eyes and no nerve endings, so cannot "feel" or "see" in the way we use those words. My advice would just be to let it all flow and see how you feel at the endpersonally I enjoyed the whole thing, and found the end rather movingbut you may think differently, of course. ********************* Joe writes in the same way a 3d Printer creates an object. Completion, and by completion in this metaphor I mean "understanding" or the state of "having-read" (synonyms in an ideal world, but often not in reality, of course), is only possible once all the layers have been laid. While we wait for meaning to emerge, we can just listen: "Imp Plus found in all the folds whose fibers gripped each lens of those eyes he had held with his own lost eyes a sweet humor of sugar and blood which unfolding flowed over him.

I mean part of the book is about a language beyond language, a journey beyond the frail scope of human existence and into the very fabric of definition and meaning, the foundations of the self the first real transhumanist novel? As Imp Plus constructs his Self were invited to deconstruct ourselves. The sliver Imp Plus popped out sailed on. Much of the book revolves around Imp Plus attempting to see without eyes and the descriptions of what he sees. The memories often take the form of his wife and kid: Imp Plus looked beyond the strange slivers, looked for the shore, found it grain by grain hacked into by an ax of flesh. Imp Plus looked for the seashore and saw four long fingers softened by water, saw teethlike digits he knew were toes paddling by the fingers that were bigger in the water. (56-57) Imp Pluss reflections on the past are more than simple nostalgia, in the past he sees not only what he was but what he can become, memory is a key element in self development and definition and in McElroys fiction there does seem a preoccupation with the power of memory, notably in how it can aid what we can become. And this not distant past the earlier tendings and extendings, the dark red or pale green ripples more gradient than motion, the turning of nets of micro-orbits of surface into silk films to see the Sun, yet cloudy silks to slow it Imp Plus must incline away from the moment of those near memories; for they offered to slide him right down the axis of distance into all the shapes of Earth that could not be his now and would choke him in the words they threw up to him, shadows of what he saw and was and what he meant now instead to see and be, here in himself that is, apart from Earth. (143-144) As we can see in the paragraph above, Imp Plus is shedding the idea of his old self or at least the need of it Imp Plus must incline away from the moment of those near memories, admitting the disastrousness of his memories and how they threaten to slide him right down into his old Earth form and the words of that era of him, how his new self is apart from Earth.

Recipe: Take one part conventional Science Fiction story Add two parts 'peppy' dialogue, 1 part vague 'techno' lingo Slowly pour in love interest Add 3/4 cup of 'saving the world' histrionics Simmer on low for 45 minutes Serve on decorative plate, garnished with edible flowers Set entire plate on fire, beat it with the blunted side of an axe, and throw it out the window Put head in blender Enjoy! McElroy dazzles as his prose gains complexity concomitant with Imp Plus' own. (And the occasional glimpse of humor: "he always had a head for numbers.") As McEloy says, Imp Plus is, in many ways, about "a brain becoming information." If that sounds like something that might interest you, I recommend it whole-heartedly.

"Seeing that the strange words radii of color were true, he could not stop to know why." The end of the novel I found oddly moving, and I have revisited those final pages a number of times since I first read them. It's idiocy to point out that the entirety of this novel will stand up to infinite readings. I fear that reading it, I'll be struck and killed while bicycling to work and they'll discover on my corpse, in my backpack, my copy of that book with a bookmark 30 pages in, and my wife will observe in her eulogy I spent the final six months of my life turning those 30 pages, and that each night I tossed and turned uncharacteristically.

This is one hell of a book, it's just considerably more slight than the other two I've read by McElroy, and yet it is still in its own way just as accomplished.

He received his B.A. from Williams College in 1951 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. As an English instructor at the University of New Hampshire, his short fiction was first published in anthologies.