In I bought a 30p second-hand paperback because I liked the title: ‘The Demolished Man’, by Alfred Bester. This fits into a rare category of. That’s the challenge Alfred Bester sets himself in his unconventional cult classic The Demolished Man, the first novel to win the Hugo Award back in The Demolished Man was first published in and won the first ever Hugo award for best novel. I first read it as a teenager, but haven’t read.

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There is spoken dialogue and telepathic dialogue, and some neat layout of the text to try and show how they think. Some latent telepaths are undiscovered, or are aware of their abilities but refuse to submit to Guild rule. No, this is not great literature. It’s also a very good noir thriller. besetr

Powell easily disarms him and then reads his mind. Two outstanding book covers: Her face was terrified.

For once, my personal favorite won. Some fans and critics consider it a watershed moment, the transition from planetary romance, with its laser guns, barely dressed ladies and bug-eyed monsters to ‘serious’ considerations of the impact of technology on society and on individual lives.

Although I cannot find the book on my bookshelf – I probably recommended and lent it to some friend over forty years ago – I still carry a jingle from the story in my head.

This future has some inevitable dated elements mixed with some quite interesting details, and there’s a whole Freudian subtext that’s A pulpy energy drives this science-fiction noir through writing that is sometimes clunky, sometimes excellent check out Jenny Colvin’s review for a quote of the great passage that describes an exploded ceramics planta future setting with ESP-endowed “peepers” investigating the first murder in many years, and interesting if too broadly-characterized characters.

He could infer that the murder made her run out of the house. Did we mention she’s naked, and also super hot. But inwith 60 years of refinements in the genre, it suffers from some very dated dialogue and characterization, and some really condescending portrayals of women, so I’m afraid the present value of the book is 4 stars. It’s fantastic to see what an author was able to conceptualize, and what just couldn’t possibly happen for them yet.


Look at Reich’s position in time and space.

The Demolished Man – Wikipedia

Though successful in all these fields, he is best remembered for his science fiction, including The Demolished Man, winner of the inaugural Hugo Award ina story about murder in a future society where the police are telepathic, and The Stars My Destination, a SF classic about a man bent on revenge in a world where people can teleport, that inspired numerous authors in the genre and is considered an early precursor to the cyberpunk movement demolisher the s.

The play of the conscious, subconscious and the unconscious was the perfect place to play out the game – Reich outwitting the Espers, pitting two Class 1 Bsster against each other would have been so much fun, apart from the brilliant expositions Bester could have made deriving from Freud or Lacan or whoever he wished. There is a guild to improve Espers’ telepathic skills, to set and enforce ethical conduct guidelines, and to increase the Esper population through intermarriage.

I do not remember much else from the story, but I liked its originality and inventiveness. He is a member of the elite guild of Espers as in Extrasensory Perceptionthe organization that trains new telepaths with native, untapped talents, and guards against abuses by the Espers against the ‘normals’.

Ted Gioia writes on music, literature and popular culture. In a world in which the police have telepathic powers, how do you get away with murder?

Mining the Genre Asteroid: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Visit our companion sites The New Canon A guide to outstanding works of fiction published since Conceptual Fiction Celebrating masterworks of science fiction, demolised, alternate history and magical realism F ractious Fiction Exploring radical, unconventional and experimental fiction Great Books Guide A bewter at contemporary currents in literature. I’m looking at you Foundationand a lot of ideas that seem ignorant to me.

In the end, I’m only glad it didn’t clinch the Nebula, because Nebulas came much later – it is way too flawed. Which leads me to Jake’s comment on the general embarrassing proliferation of particularly dated Freudisms.


I wish I could see a movie version because I want to see people fighting in their heads, having telepathic party games, and more than anything I want to see the Rainbow House of Chooka Frood. A 3rd is the lowest class of telepath. But we failed the test. So it was well deserving of the inaugural Hugo Award, especially when you see the low quality of some of the other nominees and winners back in the early days, most of which have faded from popular memory without a murmur of protest has anyone read the next year’s winner They’d Rather Be Right?

Why did all of them have to be fawning, helpless creatures waiting in the sidelines for their man to come and deliver them? But how did he know she was naked?

Tension, apprehension, And dissension have begun…. Also connected ah, Freud!

The Demolished Man

We have the right to elect Guild officers, and that’s all. And as far as mentioning The Stars my Destination above as the other novel that Bester is known for? For example, the explanation of the varying levels of Esper classification was carried out in a rough unrealistic fashion. Literally every time Barbara is mentioned the men harp on about her great rack and vacant eyes femolished women, how lovely they alcred when they’re brain dead, amirite?

The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester

All in all an enjoyable read, if not one that totally blew me away. I didn’t care much for the ending, though. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The gun is described as combining a stiletto knife, a knuckle-duster and a revolver in a folding package, an Apache revolver.