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The Divide Hardcover – Dec 1 1989


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From Publishers Weekly

Wilson ( Gypsies ) perceptively imagines a biological monstrosity: John Shaw, an ordinary human with a souped-up intellect courtesy of hush-hush CIA experiments with intrauterine hormone injections. As John's hypertrophic cortical tissue succumbs to its faulty genetic structure and begins to die, his personality yields to an alter ego named Benjamin. His condition touches Susan and Amelie, two strangers who share John's sense of orphaned isolation and profound betrayal. The women upend their lives to form a fragile family and see John through to the outcome of his unwilling transformation. Wilson's skills afford credibility and even pathos to his fashionings of John and Benjamin, and of the women who love these sentient, doomed fragments of a being both alien and human. A taut ending fittingly closes this indelible portrait.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Genetically designed to be a prototype for the next stage of human evolution, John Shaw faces the flaw in his artificial personality as he begins to devolve into two separate individuals, each facing enemies that threaten the people vital to his/their continued sanity. Combining psychological suspense with political intrigue, the latest novel by the author of Gypsies deftly explores the fragile constructs of human consciousness. For large sf collections.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Pleasant, but not particularly sci-fi Aug. 22 2005
By M. L. Leavitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After reading Robert Charles Wilson's _Spin_, I thought I'd give this earlier book a "spin." Unfortunately, unlike the 2005 _Spin_, this 1989 novel is more of a disappointment. Though I enjoyed it, and I wouldn't say that it was a complete waste of time reading it, I certainly have read more interesting books, and certainly this particular novel didn't have much in the way of scientific discussion. In fact, it is just barely a science fiction novel.

The story follows two women who are in love with the same man, John Shaw -- though with different personalities within him. No, he doesn't have schizophrenia. Rather, he is a modified human (cortically stimulated in utero) who has created a second "normal" personality able to deal with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, his brain is detiorating, and his old mentor/creator needs to find a way to save his life.

Now this sounds like it could be quite a good book, but very little of the book is scientific, there are very little differences between the two faces of John Shaw (the alternate personality's dialog, what little there is, isn't very different), and there really isn't any solution offered for the main problem of saving his life. In fact, other than the love story -- which is weak at best -- there really isn't much to this tale. Very little is resolved among any of the characters, little is postulated about the harms/benefits of creating a super-man, and the book ends with only about 1% science and 99% fiction.

I suppose what I'm saying is that if you are reading all of Robert Charles Wilson's work, this is one you will want to read, as it is an early example of his work. But just don't expect a heck of a lot from it.

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