Monday, September 17, 2007

Brian Stableford's "The Trial": A drug trial is more successful than expected!

This is a very good story - in spite of slow start, implausible ending, & too much drama. Story concerns early field trials of a new drug.

I am no judge of how realistic the trial procedure described is, though it sounded plausible. Description of Alzheimer's patient behavior is generally realistic; I have seen it first hand in a dear one who eventually died of it.

Story summary.
Dr Thomas Wharton is a medic in some hospital in England, conducting field trials of a drug for Alzheimer's patients on behalf of a German company. William Asherson is the eleventh patient enrolled in the trial program, & is the focus of the story.

While the drug has had some effect on other 10 patients, effect is dramatic on him. The drug not only appears to get his sanity back, but it also improves his memory.

In a scene that is way too dramatic, the patient forces doctor to give him an additional dose by holding the nurse on duty hostage & threatening to kill her if denied demand.

The additional dose makes his memory way too sharp. Fine. But it does it immediately on taking the dose! Now that is uncalled for drama.

There is even more drama as William faces the ghosts time & his memory had hidden.

See also.

  1. Ted Chiang's "Understand": Another story of a drug trial that improves capability of the brain, but with far more drastic repercussions.
  2. Verner Vinge's "Rainbows End": A small subplot in this Hugo 2007 winning novel deals with Alzheimer's cure, & with as dramatic cure. I find Brian's version far more interesting.
Fact sheet.
The Trial, short story, review
First published: Asimov's Science Fiction, July 2007.
Rating: A
Added to my best of the year 2007 picks.