Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Genre writers cannot write?" Well read this book and say that...

More Than HumanMore Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always amazed when I read authors from the Golden Age of science fiction. They write with economy. And tend to say more in 250 pages than many contemporary series say over a trilogy weighing in at 1,000 pages. I am thinking of masters like Bester, Le Guin, PKD, Heinlein and Clarke.

And now, I can add Theodore Sturgeon to that mix.

More that Human is a very interesting read. I really enjoyed the way Sturgeon tells the story. Especially in the last two parts, where the story is uncovered bit by bit as the characters come to terms with repressed memories. The technique is effective and poetic. In fact, there were times that the general style, which often runs towards the literate Gothic, reminds me a lot of Faulkner. Who said that genre writers cannot write?

The big idea in Human is "homo gestalt." That we are more than the sum of our parts. And that living in a connected network will help us all "blesh" into a single entity by each individual providing exactly what he or she does best. Anyone who has worked in a large organization or played on a sports team can sense the truth of this. For example, take a simple business organization. The sales guru has not the patience to crunch the numbers. So the finance guru must set limits to the deals the salesperson is making. But cannot program the order system so it will not allow prices below a certain threshold. So the IT guy is called to code it. Etc. But, off in the wings, there's the Industrial engineer worrying about inventory levels. And the finance guru trying to work with the engineer to minimize warehousing costs. Etc. Etc.

The big problem I have with the book, though, is that he makes this all a bit creepy. When he's just creating a complex, poetic "conceit" for teamwork, or Synergy. Sturgeon also seems to have the Social-Darwinian idea that Evolution is a climbing up, a bettering. When instead, Evolution tends to be random and driven by population statistics and probability. And, lastly, is the emphasis on psychic powers -- which are, to say the least, pretty non-scientific. So I class More than Human as a Scientific Fantasy, more in the lines of a Ray Bradbury, than as a Science Fiction tale proper.

Quibbles aside, a very good classic Science Fiction. I almost gave it five stars it was that good. So it is highly recommended to fans of Science Fiction & Fantasy.


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