Title: Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain
Author: Isaac Asimov
Page Count/Review Word Count: 480
Okay, so my thoughts on this one are a little weird, because I thought the first Fantastic Voyage book was a lot better. The strange thing is that the first book was a novelisation based on the film, and so Asimov himself said he enjoyed writing this one more because he got to use his own ideas instead of being tied to a story line that someone else had written. Unfortunately, the book and the movie were better.
I think that a large part of that is because Asimov spends so much time setting up the politics of the novel that only half of it is actually dedicated to the titular voyage. That felt like a bit of a cop out, a bit like reading a fantasy novel and finding that most of it was actually about tensions between the US and Chinese governments.
It probably also doesn’t help that even when the novel came out towards the end of the eighties, the whole Soviet vs US thing was no longer as relevant as it was when the original book came out, and even then it only provided the setup. That left this one feeling as though it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be.
There’s also the fact that it’s marketed as a sequel to the original Fantastic Voyage, when it’s actually just the exact same concept but given the Asimov treatment. Normally, I wouldn’t mind too much, but it was done badly as well, and I can’t help but wondering how much of that was down to the fact that Asimov was nearing the end of his life. I also wonder why he bothered to write it in the first place. For the money, I guess?
And so the result is a book that would be substandard for most sci-fi authors and that for Asimov, just feels like a waste of his potential. In fact, I only stuck with it until the end because I’m on a mission to slowly but surely read everything that he ever wrote. It very nearly became a bedtime book, which is the name I give for those that I slowly but surely chip away at in bed each evening. But it wasn’t quite that bad.
I mean, it just is what it is, a pretty underwhelming sci-fi novel that just rehashes the same ideas that were in the novelisation that he wrote which just rehashed the film. You could create the same effect by just watching the movie on 0.5 times speed, except even then, I’d rather do that than re-read this. I held out hope that it would be redeemed by the ending, but no such luck. It’s a damp squib from start to finish.