Also the fictional mood altering drug in Jonathan Franzen's
book The Corrections. Aslan first appears in the book under the
street name of Mexican A when serial loser Chip's far-too-young
girlfriend Melissa buys a supply before they head off for a
weekend's worth of 'fucking'. When asked about the effects Melissa
describes it as doing 'Nothing and everything'. The drug removes
every trace of inhibition from Chip and a few hours after taking the
first golden pill, while driving, Chip states 'We have to stop
immediately and fuck.'
Aslan re-appears later in the book when Chip's mom, Enid visits
the ship doctor on a cruise when she finds herself feeling 'confused'
and unable to sleep. The doctor, a patronising youngster named Dr.
Hibbard, offers her a flavour of the drug officially known as ASLAN®
CruiserTM. When Enid asks what it does Hibbard replies
'Absolutely nothing, if you are in perfect mental health. However,
let's face it, who is?' He goes on to explain that 'Alsan provides a
state-of-the-art factor regulation. The best medications now
approved for American use are like two Marlboros and a
rum-and-Coke, by comparison.' When Enid asks if it is an
antidepressant he replies 'Crude term. “Personality optimizer”
is the phrase preferred.'
Manufactured by a company named Farmacopea, Aslan is
available in numerous varieties, each optimised for a particular
activity or mental state. Besides Aslan 'Basic' there is Aslan
'Ski', Aslan 'Hacker', Aslan 'Performance Ultra', Aslan
'Teen', Aslan 'Club Med', Aslan 'Golden Years' and Aslan
'California'. The company also plans to bring several other blends
to market, namely Aslan 'Exam Buster', Aslan 'Courtship', Aslan
'White Nights', Aslan 'Reader's Challenge', Aslan
'Connoisseur Class' and several others. The drug is not available
in America. When Enid asks if she can get in her hometown of St.
Jude he advises her to get her Aslan from Mexico.
He gives her two week supply in exchange for the $150 which she
won gambling the previous night.
For Enid Aslan is miraculous. 'Golden sunlight fell across the
blankets in her windowless room.' Suddenly she is not nervous
anymore, she does not worry about what the other people on the
luxury ship might think about her and her husband's cabin on the
cheap lower deck. She is confident and comfortable. Even when her
husband falls eight stories into the freezing water when he leans
over a railing to peek at the nudist sun deck she is unconcerned
with the intense gazes of strangers at her and her soaked husband.
The only thing that does concern her, that clouds her optimised mood
is the niggling question of how she might be able to secure more
Aslan once her current supply runs out.
When her supply does run out she is outwardly unchanged, but
collapses on the inside.
The drug makes its final appearance toward the end of the book
when Enid, having asked a friend going on holiday to Europe to ask
her doctor son-in-law to write Enid a prescription for more of the
golden pills, waits anxiously for her package. Unfortunately when it
is delivered to her door it is intercepted by Enid's eldest son,
Gary, who deigns not to let his mother have it and hides it from
her. Enid's daughter Denise knows about the Aslan (which she
instantly identifies as Mexican A 'Club drug. Very young person.')
and steals it from Gary's coat pocket while he is asleep to give to her mother in the form of a secret little Christmas
present hidden in an Advent calendar.
After several more minor and major catastrophe's in the family's
doomed 'last Christmas with everyone together' Denise's destructive
need for relief from her surroundings sends her to her mother with
the words 'I think there's something in the Advent calendar for you.'
Enid returns from the calendar with the pills wrapped in a tissue.
'I'm sure whoever put these there meant well, but I don't want them
in my house. I want the real thing or I don't want anything.'
The pills end up in the garbage grinder and disappear down the
drain forever leaving the Lamberts to fend for themselves in the
real world where their demented and crippled (from
Parkinson's disease) father is on an irreversible slide into
nursing home oblivion.