From Lipsyy : I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!
Title: The Demolished Man
Author: Alfred Bester
Publisher: Millenium SF Masterworks
First date of publication: March 1953
Source: Bought by myself
Number of pages: 250
In a world in which the police have telepathic powers, how do you get away with murder?
Ben Reichs heads a huge 24th century business empire, spanning the solar system. He is also an obsessed, driven man determined to murder a rival.
To avoid capture, in a society where murderers can be detected even before they commit their crime, is the greatest challenge of his life.
How do you review a science fiction book? Even if I am used to reading great material over at scifiandscary.com, I feel a little nervous about sharing my thoughts on a story belonging to a genre I cannot fathom the frontiers of. I wish I could go on and on about this book because after all, I am giving it 4 stars, but you’ll have to make do with a lazy review and give the story a try!
The Demolished Man walked over my ideas of what I was expecting and what I would find in this kind of books. Please, don’t judge this story by its cover, I know it is ugly, I am still wondering what went through the publishing company’s mind to pick something so … wrong, cliché and purely awful. Go over and beyond and prepare for a gripping ride.
Ben Reichs is at the head of a gigantic empire somewhere in the 24th century. Yep, 24th. We’ll all be dead by them and I think I don’t really mind. You see, the idea of people entering my brain and thoughts through telepathic powers is not very appealing. I like my conversations with myself to stay private, thank you. The good thing behind this is that it’s almost impossible to commit a crime because ethers are trained to scan you and detect any form of crime.
Not so long ago I would have called this nonsense and thrown the book away. Those ideas would have been enough to give me a headache. But I was held captive in this century, unable to take my eyes off the pages, holding my breath and biting my nails.
It was anger for the relentless force of evolution that insisted on endowing man with increased powers without removing the vestigial vices that prevented him from using them.
The first reason was the writing style. Clear, unobtrusive, straight to the point. The author makes the 24th and its individuals so familiar faster than the TARDIS translates alien languages, yet you’ll feel like a foreigner, staring at everything and wondering how the hell this world functions. The perfect balance to keep you interested without losing you along the way.
You’ll find all regular sci-fi elements including space travel as easy as if you were popping to Walmart for some milk. But I did not care. I actually enjoyed the world building, everything that was new to me was an experience to learn from. Where do authors get those ideas? Well; most aren’t new but to make them work and be realistic to a down-to-Earth lady like me takes a massive amount of work and talent. There were enough elements to keep me curious but I was never overwhelmed by too much information.
Now off to the grandkids of our grandkids of… You get the gist: the 24th century people. Some you wouldn’t want to meet, others you’d enjoy the company. But no matter what date it is, a man is a man and what drives him doesn’t change throughout time and space.
Ben Reichs is a scary and tortured man. It was pure delight to watch him fight his demons and carry on his plans. I cannot pinpoint what drew me to him and I cannot even say I like him, but he is a fascinating character.
The plot itself could have been set in our century. A man wants something. A man plans to murder someone. Things are in the way. But instead of the focus merely being on the crime itself, what makes The Demolished Man a real treat is that we get the before, the after, and the consequences, all served with a superb and cunning writing and a frightening look at human beings.
“It’s lucky for the world I’m willing to stop at one murder. Together we could rape the universe.”
We get to see a man’s tailspin into hell through his own actions, under the threat of The Demolition. It never gets boring, it never gets dull, it keeps on delivering. I thought several times that there could not be any new twists coming, any interesting stuff around the corner, but I was wrong. The Demolished Man is a story that keeps its promises until the very end.
I’d recommend it to anyone as long as you’re ready for a nice take on human behavior presented with a spark of sci-fi.