Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain by Isaac Asimov

Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain by Isaac Asimov
Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain by Isaac Asimov

The novel “Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain” by Isaac Asimov was published for the first time in 1987.

Albert Morrison is a neurophysicist who is developing theories considered decidedly unorthodox by his colleagues, and that’s at the best of times. When Natalya Boranova, a Soviet scientist, approaches him at a conference to propose that he participate in a miniaturization experiment that requires his skills, he declines her invitation.

To his surprise, Morrison is approached by an American secret agent who suggests he accept Boranova’s invitation to find out if the Soviets have truly developed miniaturization technology. He refuses but is kidnapped by Soviet agents and transported to the USSR, where he’s pressured to participate in an experiment aimed at entering the brain of Pyotr Leonovich Shapirov, a scientist in a coma, to literally try to read his thoughts.

Isaac Asimov was never satisfied with the novelization of “Fantastic Voyage” because he never really felt it as his own having written a version of someone else’s screenplay. Twenty years later, he put together scientific ideas that he thought were consistent enough to write a new story of this kind.

The title of this new novel is “Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain” but it would be more suitable if the title was “Fantastic Voyage 2.0”. That’s because Isaac Asimov’s aim was to write a new version of the story that was above all improved from a scientific point of view.

“Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain” is set in an unspecified future although a reference to Stephen Hawking as a scientist from a century earlier offers a certain timeframe. USA and USSR are on fairly cordial terms but continue to spy on each other. Albert Morrison ends up in the middle of an intrigue that also has espionage implications centered on a journey into the brain of a Soviet scientist.

From the beginning, you can see that “Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain” is a novel by Isaac Asimov because the scientific element is central to the plot developments. It offers a lot of information on the processes taking place in the brain, also at a biochemical level, and explanations on miniaturization and the phenomena related to it based on real knowledge of physics.

Isaac Asimov wrote this novel from the scientist’s point of view also with the inclusion of the theme of the integrity that a researcher must have in carrying out scientific research and communicating its results. He also did so by exploring the possible contrast with the secrecy demanded by those who put ideological and nationalistic interests before everything.

Albert Morrison is very far from the stereotypes of the spy story hero. He ends up in a situation that is far out of his league and he’s scared because the Cold War belongs to the past but even in an era of more civilized international relationships he still has no certainty of making it out alive.

All this forms a novel that mixes action and scientific speculation. The protagonists face various dangers on their journey into Pyotr Shapirov’s brain and at the same time carry out scientific exploration. Albert Morrison’s neurophysical theories are put to the test and there are observations of phenomena decidedly out of common experience.

The attention to scientific elements makes “Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain” an intriguing novel for readers who appreciate speculations that have a certain likelihood, as expected from a work by Isaac Asimov. Action and twists help maintain a fairly fast pace but I recommend this novel especially to readers interested in a journey to the frontier of various sciences. It’s available on Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

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