More Than Human

by Theodore Sturgeon


This is a book that takes place mostly inside the head of one of the various characters, between which it switches back and forth so many times that there isn’t really a “protagonist” per se. It’s also a book in which all of the little action takes place in extended flashbacks, and the rest of the goings-on are related in dialogue. In other words, it’s almost completely “tell” and not “show,” by far the most of any novel I’ve ever read. . . which is to say that all in all it was pretty slow. . . one third of the story passes before it becomes remotely engaging.

It’s also a book that revolves pretty heavily around Freud/Jung-era psychology and a vague relationship between various types of otherwise-unrelated telepaths. In other words, it was probably pretty groundbreaking in 1953 when it came out but now the ideas are merely interesting, and the pace unacceptably slow. I understand that (according to the jacket) this was “among the first to have launched sci-fi into the arena of literature,” but I’m sorry to say that’s not a redeeming enough quality for a 21st century reader.

I would read it if you’re interested in the history of sci-fi and want to experience the benchmarks or milestones. It’s also good to keep in mind that this was written around the same time as The Foundation Trilogy, and the very same year as Fahrenheit 451, Clarke’s Childhood’s End, and Bester’s The Demolished Man. This is the least entertaining of the bunch but probably has more literary worth than the Bester or Clarke, more like Philip K. Dick in that respect. It also reminds me somewhat of David Lindsay’s fascinating A Voyage to Arcturus (written some 30 years before).

Original Review


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