More than Human

Okay, the Hothouse posts turned out to be a bit more tedious than I had anticipated, so I won’t be covering books in that much detail very often…

I’ve just finished More than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon. The story is told in three parts. In the first part we’re introduced to a collection of misfits with different special abilities who manage to find each other and form a small “family.” Actually, it’s more than just a family, as there’s sort of a psychic bond between them as well. They eventually come to think of themselves as a single entity, which in later parts they refer to as Homo Gestalt. The humans that make up this entity think of themselves by analogy with body parts. One person is the hands, one is the tongue, one the head, and so on.

The second and third parts of the story are told in a rather unusual manner, as in both cases they are told through the eyes of a character with memory loss, and the plot unfolds as their recollection of events expands. In the third part, we find that the group has broken up. Eventually they get back together again, with a new member. This new member, in the body part analogy, serves as the conscience of the group, as the earlier breakup was largely due to the lack of a conscience.

Spoiler alert (although one can argue over whether this is necessary in a work that’s over 50 years old):

think I get the ending, but I’m not quite sure. What I think happens is, once our little band reassembles, this time with a conscience, they are deemed ready to join the rest of the Gestalt community, and they find themselves in psychic contact with other similar entities. These other entities were aware of our protagonists, but avoided contact until the group had progressed enough. This happened when it acquired a conscience.

Overall, this is a decent book, but it didn’t really stand out for me. One of the problems with reading old scifi is that what was new and radical in the 50s is not particularly new or radical today. I suppose it’s better to read things in their own time if you want the full impact.

Anyway, that’s all for  that one. Not sure what I’m reading next. While I decide, I’m reading a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories. You can’t go wrong with those.

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