I remember reading a story about a man, maybe a scientist, whose remarkable intellectual achievements earned him an invitation to join the Council of Intellects, which was considered to be a great honor. When he had a chance to enter the hall of the Council, however, he was shocked to find it consisted of brains in jars connected to each other by wires, realizing this would be his fate as well. So in the end he decided to just run away. Anyone recall the title of the story? I may have read it in the early 1980s when I was in junior high school. It may have been in a publication for young readers such as from Scholastic.


This is "All the Colors of the Vacuum" by Charles Sheffield. "The Compleat McAndrew" contains the story. It's been published a few times since its original appearance in Analog in 1981.

But the Council of Intellects was well-named. After someone has been pared down, flesh, bone and organs, to a brain and a spinal column, intellect is all that can remain. Perhaps the thing that upset me more than anything in that inner room was their decision to leave the eyes intact. They were there, attached to each brain by the protruding stalks of their optic nerves. They looked like the horns of a snail, blue, grey or brown balls projecting from the frontal lobes. Since there were no muscles left to change the focal length of the eye lenses, they were directed to display screens set at fixed distances from the tanks.

  • @Jenayah I tossed up whether or not to include the (probably illegal) link to the story. Happy for you to have taken it out. – Moriarty Feb 28 '19 at 21:22
  • No worries, if anyone wants to look it up they're free to Google the exact quotes on their own ;) – Jenayah Mar 1 '19 at 7:04
  • Thanks. This helps me locate the story so I can read it again. – moebius Mar 2 '19 at 22:00
  • @moebius glad to help. Please tick the answer as correct so anyone else looking for the story can be certain it's it. – Moriarty Mar 3 '19 at 5:25
  • I think I’d like to read the story first to make sure it’s the right one. – moebius Mar 4 '19 at 3:56

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