Alfred Bester: THE DEMOLISHED MAN

Published: 1953
Winner or Rec? Hugo Award winner.
Started reading: July 24th, 2014
Finished reading: July 25th, 2014

Epic Reading Project book #5

Now this is a really interesting book, and not only because it was the first-ever winner of the Hugo Award (which, fun fact, back in those days was called the Annual Science Fiction Achievement Award — your trivia for the day!).

No, this book is interesting because Bester really thought about what having a bunch of telepaths in one room together would be like. And, gods bless him, he takes the opportunity to play with it. You know that style of visual poetry where the structure of the poem is as important as the words themselves? (To use an example everyone knows, “The Mouse’s Tale” from ALICE IN WONDERLAND.) Bester does that thing! And it’s so neat! When a bunch of telepaths are talking all at once (for example, at a party), they weave their thoughts together into an attractive pattern. So there’s a passage in this book where the dialogue is printed like basketweaving — you can read a few people’s words going horizontally, and some other people’s words are going vertically, intersecting. It’s a beautiful thing! Shake off the shackles of prescribed form! The words themselves become the art! I’m tickled pink, I tell you, absolutely pink.

I don’t remember much else about the book (I’m writing this review in April, and I read the book last July, forgive me!), and I remember having a few critical quibbles with it, but not terribly many. You should read this book anyway, just cause the telepaths’ typography is so very neat.

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