Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Than Human

    The fifth book that I read in last month's What Should Kester Read? was John Crowley's Little, Big and ended up being the best of the bunch as well as one of the best works of fantasy fiction that I have ever read. By happy coincidence, the fifth and final book that I read in this month's What Should Kester Read? was Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human and ended up being the best of this bunch as well as one of the best works of science fiction that I have ever read.
    Sturgeon's novel is about six extraordinary people with strange powers who are able to "blesh" together into a gestalt consciousness, called homo gestalt, the next step in human evolution. Lone, a telepath, is their leader. 8-year-old Janie is a telekinetic. Twins Bonnie and Beanie can teleport. Baby (a baby) is a genius and Gerry, also a telepath, will eventually replace Lone as the head of the group. This is the story of how they find one another and the blessing and curse that it is for them to be the head, heart, arms and feet of one body. Theodore Sturgeon writes about what it is to be human, by telling a tale of those More Than Human. 
    The tone of the book reminded me of many of the classic American writers of the same period, especially John Steinbeck. If Steinbeck wrote science fiction, this is what it would be like. When the book was released in 1953, the New York Times placed the novel among its year's, praising it for "a poetic, moving prose and a deeply examined raison d'etre." Reviewer R.W. Wallace praised "its psychological wisdom and its deep humanity this novel is one of the finest achievements of science fiction." It winds up on many a "best of" science fiction list, and deservedly so. It is incredibly literary and intensely readable. A truly fantastic book.
*Nerdy sidenote: Sturgeon wrote episodes for the original Star Trek series, including the first to feature a visit to Spock's home planet. Sturgeon was responsible for creating the phrase "Live long and prosper" as well as the Vulcan hand symbol. He also introduced the Prime Directive. Sturgeon is a sci-fi legend. It's bizarre that I am just now discovering him at age 35 and that most of his writing is out of print.

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