More Than Human (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 13 Apr 2000
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Theodore Sturgeon created very human characters with real, intensely observed emotions. More Than Human (1953) is his story of a Gestalt or group mind, not a chilly super-intellect but a painfully assembled band of talented misfits. Lone is telepathic but a literal idiot; Janie, an abused runaway girl, moves things with her mind; Bonnie and Beanie, very young black twins, can teleport; Baby has a computer-like brain and also Downs syndrome.
In part one, this crippled Gestalt is movingly brought together from the wreckage of members' past lives. Part two sees Lone replaced by the psychologically damaged Gerry, a murderer at age eight: he must, agonisingly, confront his reasons for killing the benefactor who cherished them as individuals but menaced the all-important group. (The twins can't eat with the white folks; Baby should go to a home...) Part three artfully echoes the previous sections' long healing of Lone's body and Gerry's mind, with the now-grown Janie defiantly rehabilitating an unfortunate victim of Gerry's misused talents. Although the Gestalt is now tremendously powerful, there's still one important factor missing.
"Does a superman have super-hunger, Gerry? Super-loneliness?"
Sturgeon wrote beautifully, from the famous opening--"The idiot lived in a black and grey world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear."--through moments of great poignancy, and unexpected images, like a starved man seeing marmalade as stained glass. More Than Human won the International Fantasy Award and holds up well today. This is recommended. --David Langford
Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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The so called Gestalt that is the name given to the new group is anything but super intelligent and draws together a set of misfits that really all have their own agenda -- although some of the 'parts' don't really understand what is happening.
The novel was first published in the 1950s' and won awards in its day - Fifty years on the book still sends a chill down the spine and is very relevant to todays society.
This is science fiction without robots, computers or space travel, that could be set any time since the early 20th century. But as an imagining of humanity's future it is superior to most 'futuristic' SF.
It's a speculation on human evolution that manages to be philosophically intriguing on a number of levels — on one hand an inquiry into the function and origins of morality, on the other a plea for liberty and 'experiments in living' that John Stuart Mill would have been proud of. The conflicting human urges towards both independence and society are sensitively portrayed, and there are startling moments of both horror and compassion. Between the lines there is also the sad recognition that we often hamper our own development, on whatever level, because of fear and ignorance.
'More than Human' is a brief but dense read. I imagine it will well repay repeated visits and should outlast most genre fiction.
More Than Human is such a unique novel that some individuals may not consider it science fiction at all; the science wrapped into these pages is of the most abstract and philosophical sort, centering on the question of the future evolution of the human race. The novel is broken up into three very distinct sections, each division marked by a shift in both emphasis and viewpoint. Initially, it can be a little difficult to get your bearings after one of these jumps, but all of the pieces of this giant puzzle come together in the end; I would qualify this by saying that the ultimate resolution happens in the reader's mind and is not necessarily spelled out by the author on the final page. The novel features some rather surprising plot twists along the way, and sometimes the reader may think Sturgeon has wandered far off the beaten track. In a sense he has because More Than Human marks the birth of a new kind of science fiction; rest assured that Sturgeon knows exactly where he is going from page one.
The novel opens with a self-described and self-acknowledged idiot living the only life he has ever known, one of utter loneliness and nothingness. His one gift is an ability to make people do things for him by looking at them in a certain way. His encounter with a unique, incredibly over sheltered little girl in the woods leads to an early scene of great tragedy and a turning point in the young man's life. Lone, as he manages to name himself, is taken in by a farming couple and introduced to the life he had never known. Elsewhere, a young girl named Janie lives a life of unhappiness under the roof of her unfit mother. She has her own special gift, the ability to move things with her mind, and one day she comes to know a pair of black children who can disappear and reappear at will. All of these characters somehow find each other and begin to see themselves as something more than human after a mongoloid baby is added to the strange little family. Taken together, they are one person: Lone is the head, Janie and the twins are the legs and arms, and Baby is the brilliant thinker that only Janie can communicate with telepathically. What forms out of these interconnected lives is a new type of human being: Human Gestalt. Individual weakness is subsumed by group superhuman strength, but this new type of human is lonely and prone to make mistakes as it struggles to understand itself.
The three sections are all remarkably different, yet they work together in much the same fashion as the children to become something incredibly powerful. In broad terms, the first section describes the birth of Human Gestalt, the second section describes its search for a purpose in life and a reason for being, and the third and most important section addresses the ethical and moral ramifications of such a new type of superhuman. The novel is told with such subtle power and mind-numbing beauty that any description I attempt to make will not do it justice. This is thought-provoking science fiction at its best.
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I've already got a copy; ordered this one for my study.....Read more
A bit patronising. Lots of telling rather than showing.
Styles of writing change and we are less verbose today.