Along the lines of the movies "Limitless", or Scarlett Johansson's new movie "Lucy". Basic premise of the story is: Man escapes from US government facility after the treatments, his brain continuing to evolve. Teaches himself to manipulate the usual systems: financial markets, the internet etc. while evading the government.

Then he becomes aware that there's someone else out there like him. An earlier test subject, further along on the brain evolutionary path.

They face off at the end, battling with a slightly vague form of mental combat...

Our protagonist loses, due to his opponent triggering some sleeper logic bomb implanted in his subconscious some weeks earlier via some abstract visual pattern.

I found this on the internet a few years ago. Any suggestions?

  • 4
    An earlier work with a similar theme and a classic sci-fi story is Flowers for Algernon, which was also made into a movie. Worth reading. He is selected to undergo an experimental surgical technique to increase his intelligence. The technique had already been successfully tested on Algernon, a laboratory mouse. The surgery on Charlie is also a success, and his IQ triples. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_for_Algernon
    – Lyn
    Jun 2, 2017 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


The short story is "Understand" by Ted Chiang. From Wikipedia:

The story follows a man who is given an experimental drug to heal brain damage caused by anoxia after he nearly drowns. The drug regenerates his damaged neurons and has the unintended side effect of exponentially improving his intellect and motor skills. As he gets smarter and smarter, he is pursued by several government agencies and eventually receives a message from—and then enters into conflict with—another super-intelligent test subject.

I highly recommend Chiang's first short story collection which contains this story and other brilliant work, including the short story that the 2016 feature film Arrival is based on.

  • Yes, that's the one! Thanks very much Will try and get the book as well
    – user25631
    Apr 28, 2014 at 13:50

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