Friday, February 18, 2005

Alfred Bester's work The Demolished Man won the first Hugo Award. For those of you who don't follow Sci-Fi, The Hugo is the biggest award that can be won in that genre, with the possible exception of the Nebula. Whichever, Mr. Bester created a masterpiece, one that truly deserves the attention of thoughtful people everywhere...

It isn't a spoiler to mention that the book is a tragedy, Hamlet is a tragedy, that doesn't stop people from seeing it. Hell, the new Testament is a tragedy! And Mr. Bester's title is certainly indicative that this story is not about happy people...

At its most basic level, this story functions as a crime drama: How do you get away with murder when Telepaths are scanning everyone all the time? Hell! How do you get down the street with murder on your mind, without a telepath spotting the murder and reporting it to the police? Ben Reich has a way. His motives aren't what we might call honorable, but his ability was undeniable...

In my last review, I mentioned that it is a rare author who can show a character being clever. The way Mr. Bester shows his protagonist giving himself the tools is simply astounding (being more specific would constitute a spoiler)...

What is most compelling about Mr. Bester's work is how much he seems to just like people. He postulates telepaths, people able to peak into the thoughts of another, and also postulates that the vast majority would not use their power for ill purpose. Indeed, Mr. Bester's Telepaths are not interested in a "normal" Vs. Telepath war (Babylon 5 fans might be amused by that). What they are interested in is improving the society they see around them. And the rest of Human society seems to accept them (and their scary powers) without fear or prejudice. All of this serves to make the sad, lonely existence of Ben Reich even more poignant...

Ultimately, the book is a deeply psychological tale of murder and hope. It stands at the very pinnacle of what Science Fiction is capable of. It ought to be mandatory reading for students everywhere...

Rating: 5 non-demolished men out of 5 Chronicles of Amber. Really, just go read the book already!

Hell! I couldn't do a review of this book without quoting this lick:

Eight, sir; Seven, Sir;
Six, Sir; Five, Sir;
Four, Sir; Three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor
Tenser, said the Tensor
Tension, apprehension,
And Dissension have begun.

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[Dean's World]

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