Gray Matters

William Hjortsberg
Gray Matters Cover

Gray Matters


This story explores a dystopian future where overcrowding has led the world to turn to removing brains from bodies and storing them until such time as there is space on earth for them again.

The uncountable number of floating brains in the depository have little to do in their jars, and they have to do something, since they are fully alive, just limited now to simple thought without action.

The author explores how such imprisoned intellects can get into mischief and even engage in revolt, escape and sexual activity. Four brains are explored in depth, and life within the depository and outside are both examined for their benefits and drawbacks.

There's a lot of sexual activity in the book. Some of it is troubling, particularly where one mind, revealed as a sexually voracious teenage girl in the mutual fantasy that is mind-melding, develops a sexual fixation with another mind revealed as a man in his 50s. According to the rules the story sets, this should not even be possible, but I guess it was tittilating for the writer.

The quality of the prose is very good, and it can be seen why the author won a fellowship to Stanford's writing program.