With his phenominal bestseller Fantastic Voyage, Isaac Asimov took the world on its first amazing journey into the human body. Now he gives us the story he has been thinking about since then, one he has always wanted to write—a spectacular all-new thriller that takes you to the far reaches of inner space…the last frontier left to man: the human brain. Told with the remarkable realism and electrifying suspense that have made Asimov today’s best-loved master of science fiction, FANTASTIC VOYAGE II: DESTINATION BRAIN is sure to become the newest classic of the genre.
It is the twenty-first century and the two superpowers now enjoy peaceful coexistence. It comes as a surprise, then, when American scientist Albert Jonas Morrison is suddenly kidnapped and flown to the U.S.S.R. But once inside the Soviet Union, Dr. Morrison discovers the chilling reason for his abduction. World-renowned Russian scientist Pyotor Shapirov, the mastermind behind the top-secret Soviet Miniaturization Project, lies in a deep coma, the victim of a miniaturization accident. Locked within his brain rests the key to the greatest scientific advance ever in the world’s history. The American’s mission, along with a team of four Soviet scientists, is to be miniaturized to molecular size, travel in a specially designed submarine to the dying Shapirov’s brain, and tap the secrets held there. With only twelve hours to accomplish their task, Morrison and his companions—the first people ever to journey inside a human body—must struggle against unknown terrors in a desperate search for the origins of thought itself…as their lives hang precariously in the balance.
With its harrowing adventures—and startling surprise finale—this is a novel that promises to hold you in its grip to the very last page.
This is not a sequel to the earlier Fantastic Voyage, but an attempt on Asimov’s part to write the actual novel he would have written around the earlier scenario if he had not been forced to simply novelize somebody else’s screenplay.
The result is not entirely a happy one, and I am forced to admit that I actually prefer the original novel. In part, of course, this is “golden age syndrome,” and in part its my overall feeling that Asimov’s peak for fiction writing was well before the 1980’s—but I really do think this is a weaker novel.
The basic story combines elements of Hitchcock, an unfortunate failure to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the overall feel of a spy thriller. An American scientist is coerced into participating in a dangerous experiment in miniaturization in the USSR and has various adventures as he travels through the body of a dying man.
I’m sorry, but I found the basic situation slightly overblown—particularly the chase at the end. The characters were unusually shallow and uninteresting, and the science unusually shallow. Granted, the handling of miniaturization itself was much better than in the first book, but Asimov turns here once more to mental powers such as periodically surface in his books (and which I do not usually care for as plot elements) and shows yet again a fair amount of ignorance of how real 20th century computers work. There is really little to commend in this book.
This, I’m afraid, is rather towards the bottom of the list so far as Asimov’s novels go.