The Guardian books blog has a fantastic short piece on fictional mind-bending drugs from literature, stretching from the nightmare-inducing hallucinogens of William Burroughs to Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.
The most famous invented drug is probably soma in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It was an integral part of the story because it was an integral part of the authorities’ control mechanism ‚Äì they were literally keeping the people doped up and happy. Sounds alright to me: a permanent state of blissed-out semi-catatonia. In fact, given my choice of fictional narcotics, soma would probably be first.
Nor would I mind sampling some melange/spice from Frank Herbert’s Dune (long life, heightened awareness and possible extrasensory properties, cool blue eyeballs); septus from Iain Banks’s Transition (the ability to flit between parallel worlds and inhabit others’ bodies); Dylar from Don DeLillo’s White Noise (no more fear of death); the various hallucinogens drunk with the old moloko in A Clockwork Orange (a nice quiet horrorshow starring Bog and all his angels); Can-D in Philip K Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (allows you to participate in a group hallucination). I also quite like the sound of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, described as “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick”. Well, it beats aspirin and sniffing exhaust pipes.
However, it misses out one of the most wonderful examples: the feathers from Jeff Noon’s Vurt and Pollen novels that produce shared hallucinations that are a cross between Jung’s collective unconscious and the internet.
Link to ‘Literature’s most mind-blowing drugs’.