I read a lot. Books and the data/stories contained within them are my oldest friends. Working at the University of Houston allows me to use the M.D. Anderson Library. Awesome! My wife mentioned that I should write up short summaries/observations on the books I've been reading, since people might be interested in reading them, so I did. Comments are welcome.
Finding a writer I never read before is like connecting to a mind across the decades!
Demolished Man – Alfred Bester (1953)
Every once in a while a name will
pop out of the daily skronk that enters my ears and remain as something to be
explored. That is what happened one day,
years and years ago, when I happened to be watching a Simpsons episode. In the episode, a nerdy character named
Martin was speaking in front of the school in a bid for Class President (if
memory serves) and shouted out, “As your president, I would demand a
science-fiction library, featuring an ABC of the overlords of the genre:
Asimov, Bester, Clarke! “
Another of the nerdy kids then asked, “What
about Ray Bradbury?” and Martin replied condescendingly,
“I am aware of his work.”
laughed and laughed because I find Ray Bradbury’s writing interminably dull,
and I have never seen fit to include him in any discussion of science fiction
writers to admire. Isaac Asimov and
Arthur C. Clarke are all-time idols of mine.
However, in all the years I had read science fiction I never came across
the name Alfred Bester. I had to remedy
After doing a little research online
I found that one of Mr. Bester’s most highly regarded works is the book The
Demolished Man, which I proceeded to request through the Inter-Library Loan
System that the Library I work at has in place.
There are a great many older sci-fi stories that entertain, but few that
seem truly timeless, and this book is exactly that! I found it hard to tell whether I was reading
a 60+ year old book, or a cyberpunk novel!
This image would fit either!
The Demolished Man is structured as
a murder/murder investigation in a future world where some people have psychic abilities,
and are trained and hired for them. The
writing is so fast-paced, and whip-smart, reminiscent of Phillip K. Dick at his
most ADD. The typesetting is utilized to
full effect as Bester shows us the mental conversations between “Espers,” the
term used for those with psychic skills.
I got completely lost in this book and it was over far too quickly! I will have to dig up more of Mr. Bester’s
work. Finding a quality science fiction
writer that I had not yet read is like finding GOLD Jerry, gold. It has been a while since I sunk my mental
teeth into a work of fiction, and it felt great to be transported to another
world. I will have to dig up Bester’s
novel The Stars My Destination next! (This book can be read online here: http://ebooksbeus.weebly.com/uploads/6/3/0/8/6308108/the_demolished_man_-_alfred_bester.pdf )