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I read this book in the late 60s or early 70s, but don't know how much earlier than that it may have been published. If anyone can identify the book and/or author, I will be most appreciative.

The story was set in a future in which all the needs of society are met by giant automated factories. These factories are controlled and operated by disembodied brains which have been removed from deceased individuals and "wiped" to erase vestiges of personality, or so it is believed. There is a young couple who work for the corporation that owns the factories and somehow they both get killed and their brains are put to work in the factories. They "awaken" and eventually realize with horror that all the brains running the factories are, in fact, still the people they once were, though in most cases driven insane by the knowledge of their situation.

Somehow, the two lovers avoid this fate and find a way to communicate with each other. They hatch a plan and find an out-of-the-way part of a factory in which to conduct experiments remotely. An early experiment results in an autonomous biotechnological "toad" they can control and one scene has the toad hopping around the factory floor, or outside, or somewhere. The experiments evolve in complexity until they are able to reproduce, more or less, their original human physical bodies, with adjustments that allow them to control the bodies remotely. They then use these bodies to sabotage the factories, release the imprisoned brains from their nightmares, and basically end "civilization" as it was then known. The book closes with them (their avatar bodies) sitting on a knoll in the rain watching the factories explode and burn in the distance, and then keeling over as the destruction consumes their own brains.

  • 2
    Don't know the book, but definitely sounds like a very good one. Looking forward to seeing if someone can post an answer. – beichst Nov 30 '13 at 0:42
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Is it The Cybernetic Brains (1969) by Raymond F. Jones?
The story sounds similar to yours but when I noticed the toad on the cover of the book I figured this was it.

Book Cover with Toad

It was a supercivilization, a Utopia. At its core were the Cybernetic Brains, brains taken from geniuses who were promised they would live forever.

Then engineer Al Demming discovers the truth accidentally, the terrible truth transmitted to him by one of the brains. The brains are in reality slaves and in terrible torment. It was now up to Demming to stop the inhuman practice.

Just when he planned to make the announcement to the Governing Board, Demming learned that the Board knew about the hideous living death. What was the real reason behind the facade? How could he convince the Board to suspend the system before the Brains revolted and destroyed the world?

  • A deleted post whose author claims to be OP says this is the correct answer. – Kevin Jan 1 at 18:33

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