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The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon: Baby is Three v.6: Baby Is Three Vol 6 Hardcover – 31 Dec 1999


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d1227e0) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c44d6d8) out of 5 stars Psychologically Savvy Sturgeon's Success in Sixth 14 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Baby Is Three is the wonderful sixth volume in the Sturgeon collection. The collection is organized chronologically by story creation date. Having read and enjoyed the first five volumes, it was hard for me to imagine that I could possibly like Baby Is Three even better. But I did! Sturgeon's writing shows an impressive maturity of idea and flow in this volume, and Paul Williams' story notes kept me flipping to the back of the book to read about what was happening in Sturgeon's life at the time he penned each story. As a psychologist who is also a science-fiction fan, I enjoyed the intra- and interpersonal dynamics within each story, as well as the opportunity to understand and deconstruct the context in which Sturgeon wrote the stories, as offered by Williams' story notes. A bonus: two of Sturgeon's own short, autobiographical pieces are included at the end. For those who love science fiction that is thoughtful, playful, and psychologically based, Baby Is Three is a must-read. And for those who have read Sturgeon's well-known More Than Human, Baby Is Three will add to your understanding and appreciation of that tale, as well.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c850d44) out of 5 stars He was a giant 29 Mar. 2000
By Wizard's Apprentice - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ted Sturgeon was a nudist, a wild man, a tortured soul who reinvented himself and turned around to help the rest of us reinvent ourselves. It's a pleasure to watch his mind work, and a pleasure to see his stories still running wild and free without him. But his stories may upset you and make you wonder about things you've always taken for granted. His were the real dangerous visions, and his tears are mixed into his work. Reading Sturgeon is like grabbing a live wire, except being shocked never made me bellow with laughter.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c8780d8) out of 5 stars Classic '50s Sci-Fi 3 Oct. 2007
By W. Handy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Volume VI of Sturgeon's short stories. Most of these are close to novella length. Sturgeon was one of the great, classic writers of mid-century science fiction, and these are fine examples of his craft. In these stories, he chews over his ideas of what humans might be capable of in terms of interpersonal relationships. What if we formed triads instead of couples? What if several individuals, each with unique abilities, were joined together into one vast meta-being, coordinated by a central mind? The tone may seem dated at times - often resembling the hard-bitten prose of tough-guy detective stories of the same era. (Indeed, one of the tales in this book is both science fiction and detective story.) Interesting ideas, presented in a time when ideas weren't supposed to be interesting (the Fifties were a tough time for imagination). Give them a read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d2b14d4) out of 5 stars Psychologically Savvy Sturgeon's Success in Sixth 14 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Baby Is Three is the wonderful sixth volume in the Sturgeon collection. The collection is organized chronologically by story creation date. Having read and enjoyed the first five volumes, it was hard for me to imagine that I could possibly like Baby Is Three even better. But I did! Sturgeon's writing shows an impressive maturity of idea and flow in this volume, and Paul Williams' story notes kept me flipping to the back of the book to read about what was happening in Sturgeon's life at the time he penned each story. As a psychologist who is also a science-fiction fan, I enjoyed the intra- and interpersonal dynamics within each story, as well as the opportunity to understand and deconstruct the context in which Sturgeon wrote the stories, as offered by Williams' story notes. A bonus: two of Sturgeon's own short, autobiographical pieces are included at the end. For those who love science fiction that is thoughtful, playful, and psychologically based, Baby Is Three is a must-read. And for those who have read Sturgeon's well-known More Than Human, Baby Is Three will add to your understanding and appreciation of that tale, as well.
HASH(0x9debb558) out of 5 stars A tale about learning how two is a start and three can be both company and crowd, and other stories that are about that too 27 May 2016
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the interests of making myself feel old, I went back and looked up when I wrote a review of the previous volume of this series and discovered much to my dismay my poorly written single paragraph from the practically bygone year of 1999. Which is probably about the point I went from being a poor college student to a extremely busy poor college student mostly focused on plowing through the next what would turn out to be four years, apparently leaving myself little time to read the next volumes of this series as they came out. When the dust did settle, it seems I kept getting them at least (it looks like I bought this one in 2004, which also feels like a very long time ago) but I guess other books kept getting in the way. So now we're back and I really hope there wasn't one person reading that review from fifteen years ago waiting with baited breath to see what insights I'd have about this one. To that person, if they exist: sorry. I'll try to make up for it here.

When any kind of reading gap like that occurs, you wonder if your changing perspectives as the years go on will alter how you feel about a certain author. I like a lot of the stuff now that I liked when I was twenty and perhaps even more these days (according to my wife, too much), but there's a whole host of things that don't interest me anymore from those years and a segment of authors or works that you have mixed feelings about, where the glow of nostalgia paints a rosy picture but you find that time has made your views on it more complex and not as easily reconciled with both the person you are now and the world as it was back then.

But enough about my feelings on "Knight Rider". As it turns out, Sturgeon is just as good to my eyes in this century as he was in the last.

This volume covers the years 1950 to 1953, a period where Sturgeon was pretty decently prolific (at least by his standards, since there's only eleven stories here, but a couple of them are longish . . . but this may have been around the time he was emerging from a period of writer's block) and definitely hitting his stride as a writer, putting together a mix of tales that used SF as a backdrop to explore issues of sexuality and gender in a way that made them really only work as SF tales but he doesn't let the aliens and the occasional spaceship get in the way of what he's trying to say. What really comes across here, and may be the one thing that wouldn't have been as obvious to me reading these books fifteen years ago, is the urgency of his need to convey to us a universe where even if love isn't always the answer, its definitely one of the better options and can't be tied down to any one specific form or kind.

In fact, the big theme around these stories seems to be the fluidity of gender and the idea of people coming together to create something greater, with different combinations being tried. Reading these in order, you can see him teasing out the idea of the gesalt that would arrive with "Baby is Three" (and later "More Than Human") and what's interesting is how they don't feel like rough drafts. Only in context with his entire work do they feel like him teasing the issue out at different angles, trying to figure out how to best to approach and conquer it. Stuff like "Rule of Three" is good, especially in how sincere it feels, even if the involvement of aliens makes it feel like he's holding back. "Make Room For Me" mines similar territory and again the aliens makes the story feel of its time (every time they mention Titan you're waiting for Kurt Vonnegut to show up). It's only when he gets to "The Sex Opposite" that the alien elements start to hit home, contrasting not only a completely alien sexuality with a frankly charming friendship between a coroner and a reporter but more importantly it depicts the sense of loss when a link is disrupted and can't be regained, when something is lost that can't be described in human terms, except the feeling of total absence. Like most of his stories, it comes across as breezy, until it strikes hard.

But even with all those examples, its quite possible nothing will really prepare you for reading "Baby is Three" for the first time, unless you've read "More Than Human" already (a slightly reworked version is a third of that novel). For me, its been long enough since I've read the novel form that I can almost see it new. And he hits a new peak here, the prose alone marks a focused intensity that the rest of the stories, good as they are, simply don't have, as a young boy describes to a psychiatrist what his life has become since he fell in with a strange group of people who seem to serve as different parts of the same organism and only find fulfillment in being together. Subtracting the space elements and using evolution as the medium pushes the story closer to something we can understand, and what still impresses is how he shows the possible next stage of humanity but doesn't go all "Midwich Cuckoos" with it, leaving aside fear and mistrust for one person attempting to help another work through a problem they have the tools to process but aren't quite sure how to use those tools yet. He breaks open the psychology of the characters and at the same time points the story at us as if to say, we could be like this too, if we worked at it, if we stopped getting in each other's way and started working together.

Masterpiece and its thematic affiliates aside, the rest turn out to be above average SF stories. With stuff like "The Stars Are the Styx" he proposes fictional futures that feel right emotionally in their mix of hope and peril, a future where wonder means we haven't learned everything there is to learn yet. Not all of them are amazing but all have some their moments. "Excalibur and the Atom" feels like a 50s version of what Matt Wagner's "Mage" would become. The line in "The Traveling Crag" about the potential of humanity and our terrible expression of it that seems to encapsulate his entire philosophy. The weird world of "The Incubi of Parallel X" before it heads into B-movie territory. Sturgeon used his stories to express love and he used his stories to make a living and he used his stories to make a mark on the world and when he found the right mix of those elements (and he did more often than not) it was only his voice you heard, and it stuck deeply in the mind.
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