What if one pill gave you the ability to read four books in a single evening and remember every word? What if you could learn a language in an afternoon, or write a book in a week? Could you walk away from a drug that would basically give you superpowers? While some of us might ask ourselves these questions to make a traffic snarl less agonizing, in The Dark Fields, Alan Glynn constructs a captivating scenario in which they are anything but abstract.
Before his chemical reinvention, Eddie Spinola was a fallen man. After limping through a life characterized by failure and disappointment, Eddie settled into a slovenly, lackluster pattern. Instead of becoming a successful writer, he struggles as a freelance copy editor and perpetually blocked writer in New York City.
Due to a chance encounter with his ex-brother-in-law, however, Eddie has the possibility to become an entirely new person--to become the man he has always wanted to be. All he has to do is take a pill and wait for MDT-48 to re-wire his brain. The drug that transforms Eddie’s life is an illegal substance with mysterious origins. But none of that seems to matter to Eddie once MDT offers him a glimpse of an irresistible, glittering future. Functioning as a “steroid for the intellect,” MDT unleashes the full effect of Eddie’s latent potential. Suddenly, he can focus on and absorb information with superhuman intensity. He can access all the knowledge he has passively acquired, recalling minute details with minimal effort. The drug also gives him boundless energy and a generous amount of charisma.
Unfortunately, MDT-48 turns out to be a mercurial genie. What at first seems like a miracle drug contains a Faustian bargain. Eddie can enjoy a meteoric rise to success and notoriety, but it might cost him his sanity, his freedom, and his life.
Eddie’s growing dependence on the drug eventually leads to prolonged blackouts and increasingly reckless behavior. But MDT isn’t something you can just walk away from without losing everything. As Eddie’s life begins to disintegrate, he must confront the potentially lethal side effects of the drug, while also avoiding a murder charge and trying to stay one step ahead of a crazed Russian gangster.
As the novel progresses, the suspense only intensifies. The Dark Fields
was also the basis for the movie Limitless
. The adaptation from page to film was very well done, but Glynn’s novel has a gritty quality that isn’t fully explored in Limitless.