Best More Than Human –

There S Lone, The Simpleton Who Can Hear Other People S Thoughts And Make A Man Blow His Brains Out Just By Looking At Him There S Janie, Who Moves Things Without Touching Them, And There Are The Teleporting Twins, Who Can Travel Ten Feet Or Ten Miles There S Baby, Who Invented An Antigravity Engine While Still In The Cradle, And Gerry, Who Has Everything It Takes To Run The World Except For A Conscience Separately, They Are Talented Freaks Together, They Compose A Single Organism That May Represent The Next Step In Evolution, And The Final Chapter In The History Of The Human RaceIn This Genre Bending Novel Among The First To Have Launched Scifi Into The Arena Of Literature One Of The Great Imaginers Of The Twentieth Century Tells A Story As Mind Blowing As Any Controlled Substance And As Affecting As A Glimpse Into A Stranger S Soul For As The Protagonists Of More Than Human Struggle To Find Who They Are And Whether They Are Meant To Help Humanity Or Destroy It Theodore Sturgeon Explores Questions Of Power And Morality, Individuality And Belonging, With Suspense, Pathos, And A Lyricism Rarely Seen In Science Fiction 4.0 stars Ground breaking science fiction novel that first explored the concept of the gestalt consciousness while dealing with emotional issues of identity and fitting in to society This is on my list to re read as it has been some time since I read this Nominee Hugo Retro Award for Best Science Fiction Novel If you have ever been lonely and longed for completion, you will be drawn to this book But if you are one of those rare souls who sense that completion demands than a wife or a husband, who yearn to find a small group of friends like yourself but different who can believe and will the same thing and yet still manage to preserve their distinctive humanity, then this book is the thing for you More Than Human is about six people each with a distinct and extraordinary power who wander lost and damaged until they discover one another When they do, they begin to realize that together they constitute a new form of life homo gestalt, they call themselves which might just be the next step in human evolution.This is an extraordinary, resonant book Stylistically and structurally, it s The Sound and the Fury of science fiction novels the tale of an idiot not an quite idiot, whose tale not as simple as it seems is bound up with the narratives and lives of others which give his story its meaning It has passages of loneliness as fierce as anything you will find in Job, Robinson Crusoe, Hunger, or Native Son, and yet everything in it points toward love, despite the bleakest of conditions Best of all, it ends with a surprising revelation that leaves the reader with the conviction that there is indeed hope for the future without in any way diminishing the challenges and the loneliness of the individual human life.Sturgeon was always an accomplished writer, but in this book he outdid himself This is one of the science fiction books that even now, than fifty years later needs to be read. You pick up the book, turn to the back cover and are confronted with the man So this was Kurt Vonnegut s model for Kilgore Trout Staring back at you is a gaunt image a scraggly, bearded man who but for the pipe and the contented look might offer the same aspect from a homeless person or from a Jethro Tull album jacket.Turn to the first page and read The idiot lived in a black and grey world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear His clothes were old and many windowed Here peeped a shinbone, sharp as a cold chisel, and there in the torn coat were ribs like the fingers of a fist He was tall and flat His eyes were calm and his face was dead Damn And you re hooked Sturgeon has lured you into his most renowned work and you are held by this quiet, out of the way brilliance that compelled you siren like from the bottom shelf of the used bookstore Bradburyian in its poetic beauty, akin to Philip K Dick in its unabashed inimitability, More Than Human evokes a standard whereby science fiction ceases to be a genre, defies label and containment, and becomes simply a very good story Lacking the epic quality of Arthur C Clarke or the brash, but approachable engineering sensibility of Robert A Heinlein, Sturgeon has crafted a story unique in its time and place and yet one that heralds a greater creation Sturgeon quietly, but confidently ushers in a new age of speculative fiction This is not altogether hard science fiction but well rounded, introspective and psychologically challenging, the kind that Philip K Dick or Ursula K LeGuin would write this reminded me very much of Dick s Dr Bloodmoney and there are also elements of horror that would have made proud King, Matheson, or even Lovecraft First published in 1953 and winner of the International Fantasy Award and nominated for the 1954 Hugo, a nominee along with Arthur C Clarke s Childhood s End of which More Than Human bears a thematic resemblance , missing the mark only to Ray Bradbury s epochal Fahrenheit 451 More Than Human is just a very well written book and defies an easy categorization. We re not a group of freaks We re Homo Gestalt, you understand We re a single entity, a new kind of human being We weren t invented We evolved We re the next step up We re alone there are no like us We don t live in the kind of world you do, with systems of morals and codes of ethics to guide us We re living on a desert island with a herd of goatsMore Than Human is all about Homo Gestalt a group of humans with different psi abilities living together as one unit It is not about a hive mind like the creepy kids in The Midwich Cuckoo It is closer to the X Men with specialized individual abilities, but still not quite the same thing as the emphasis here is on their symbiosis not to mention the themes that Sturgeon explores throughout the book This is my third reading of More Than Human, a book I loved as a teenager, I read it again in 2011 and reviewed it briefly here, now six years later and having written hundreds of book reviews since, I believe I can be analytical in my reviews, or perhaps simply spectacularly longwinded More Than Human is divided into three parts, each part has its own conclusion and there is always a change in the narrative the point of view, and even prose style, in each part There is a feeling of a fresh start at the beginning of each part then the narrative gradually approaches and reconnects with the novel s main story arc and the central characters The book reads a little like a fix up novel, consisting of three interrelated novellas However, they do form a cohesive story by the end of the book.PART ONE The Fabulous Idiot The book begins with the story of Lone, the fabulous idiot who has no communication skills but manages to survive by somehow always getting whatever he needs from strangers just by looking at them One day he comes across a girl who immediately form a psychic link with him, things go badly with this girl thanks to her insane father Sometime later he meets a girl with telekinesis, a pair of twins with teleportation ability, and adopts a strange mongoloid baby and so the nucleus of the gestalt is formed This section of the book is mainly about being society s outcasts, loneliness and the natural imperative to find a family and a home, to belong.PART TWO Baby is Three The narrative point of view is shifted to Gerry Thompson, a young man with psi ability similar to Lone s He appears to be suffering from partial amnesia and he is consulting a psychiatrist to help dig out the buried memory His session with the shrink forms a frame story for a flashback narrative about how he is introduced to Lone and becomes integrated into the gestalt The ending of this section is unexpected and rather grim.The narrative of this section is in the first person and written in a colloquial prose style This section is a little like a sci fi horror story while exploring the themes of prejudice and misanthropy how nothing good ever stem out of them.PART THREE Morality The narrative is told in the third person again for this concluding section of the book The protagonist of this section is Hip Barrows, a young man who is a brilliant engineer, he was an up and coming lieutenant until he is mysteriously dismissed from the military Like Gerry in the previous part, he has lost his memory, though his case is extreme as he can barely remember who he is At the beginning of this section, Hip is in prison for attacking a man, and he has no memory of what made him do it Fortunately, he is rescued from prison by a mysterious girl who helps to nurse him physically and mentally back to health The girl is linked to the gestalt and Hip slowly learns his own backstory through a process called reverse abreaction The theme of moral and ethical responsibilities is the focus of this last section, with lots of cool psychic battles to keep the narrative lively.Every time I read this book years apart I find something new to appreciate This time I particularly like the mix of lyrical prose and the occasional whimsy, the prose style reminds me a lot of Bradbury Like Bradbury, Sturgeon goes in and out of the lyrical mode as the story requires However, sometimes I feel Sturgeon overdoes it, and at unsuitable points in the narrative, to the detriment of the narrative s pacing this is just a minor flaw, though By the end of the book, I realized what thematic idea Sturgeon is trying to convey in this book Power corrupts, and you know what they say about absolute power, but what if there is another step above absolute power Is ethos this next step In spite of its title, More Than Human is about humanity, it is a very humane and compassionate book.On the sci fi side, More Than Human is clearly soft sci fi, there is practically no real science behind all the psychic goings on There is an anti gravity device which plays a surprisingly significant part in the plotline While the narrative has a linear timeline it is oddly constructed, probably for some poetic effect The shift in narrative style in each part is a little disorienting, but Sturgeon always gets back on track before any real confusion sets in, the book is less than 200 pages long after all More Than Human is a classic sci fi book that has not been out of print since the 50s You may have heard of Sturgeon s law that reads ninety percent of everything is crap This book is definitely in the 10% non crap segment What amazes me is why Theodore Sturgeon is not popular or well known today, most of his books are out of print A single paragraph from this book is worth than the entire Twilight saga put together Notes There are some violence and nastiness in the book One poor lad is afflicted with acne rosacea for crossing the wrong mutant There are also several murders which are referred to but not depicted Kurt Vonnegut fans may already know this, Kilgore Trout is based on Theodore Sturgeon, who was a good friend of his QuotesLike a stone in a peach, a yolk in an egg, he carried another thing It was passive, it was receptive, it was awake and alive If it was connected in any way to the animal integument, it ignored the connexions It drew its substance from the idiot and was otherwise unaware of him Softly, she sang It was strange to hear for she did not know music she did not read and had never been told of music But there were birds, there was the bassoon of wind in the eaves sometimes there were the calls and cooings of small creatures in that part of the wood which was hers and, distantly, from the part which was not Her singing was made of these things, with strange and effortless fluctuations in pitch from an instrument unbound by the diatonic scale, freely phrased The night he cried, he discovered consciously that if he wished, he could absorb a message, a meaning, from those about him It had happened before, but it happened as the wind happened to blow on him, as reflexively as a sneeze or a shiverAn audio book in vinyl format, read by Sturgeon.