Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Demolished Man (Book)

Murder. Nightmares. The Man with No Face. Peepers & Espers. Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun. Id & Super-ego. Motive. Demolition.

Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man won the 1953 Hugo Award, the first Hugo Award ever given out. The novel is a classic and has a tone that reminds me of the old Twilight Zone TV Series.  The book is relatively timeless; although, it does contain some of the 50’s attitudes toward women. Also, 1950’s readers probably would have been more familiar with the psychological concepts and references to extra sensory perception than current readers. Otherwise, if I had never heard of the book and someone had torn out the copyright page, I might have mistaken the book for a much more current novel.

Briefly, in a society where there have been no murders in 79 years, Ben Reich murders Craye D'Courtney. Lincoln Powell, the head of police, is a telepath—called a “peeper” or “Esper”—and knows that Reich committed the murder, but that is not enough for a conviction. Lincoln must find conventional proof. Much of the story consists of a cat and mouse game between the two. Bester also has the reader wondering. “Who is the man with no face?” “What is demolition?” “What is Reich’s motive for the murder?” “Who is trying to harm Reich?”

The Demolished Man is one of the books that helped create the foundation for current Science Fiction. I almost feel that reading it was a rite of passage for me.

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