More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
This is another of those I read a long time ago and perhaps as much as five years ago someone suggested it as a book that had largely influenced them. I hardly recall it and can only attribute that to the fact I read it over 40 years ago. In rereading it I found some parts of it seemed somewhat disjointed; though maybe just jarred a bit by the change in names for major characters. This might have contributed to my earlier lack recollections of the whole.
Since the novel is three novellas; two of which were written as a sort of sandwich on either side of the original piece 'Baby is Three', that might explain the disjointed feel.
The first part 'The Fabulous Idiot' brings to mind another book I recently read, The Hampdenshire Wonder by J.D. Beresford. The idiot is a 25 year old male who calls himself Lone, who is a street person; because of the telepathic ability he has he is under educated and isolated from others and living well below his potential. This part has another fabulous idiot in the guise of an over protective father who has two daughters. The older daughter has the benefit of having had her mother raise her until the younger was born and at birth the mother died. The insane father has tried to raise both girls in isolation and discourages any close physical contact between them and anyone else. This creates a strange innocence in the youngest, Evelyn; which seems to make her susceptible to Lone’s telepathy, when they manage to stumble across each other. The father eventually finds them together and he beats them both before he ends up killing himself.
After this incident and Lone's long recovery, he isolates himself once more until he meets Janie, a telekinetic, and her two friends Bonnie and Beanie, the teleporters. Eventually they adopt a mongoloid baby who makes the fifth of their curious Gestalt. At this point they are capable of wondrous things; but what Lone does is try to help a friend on his farm by using standard off the shelf parts to create anti-gravity. This is installed on his farmer friends truck just prior to Lone's discovery that his friend has abandoned the farm.
Also of note in this section is the introduction of two other characters Gerry Thompson and Hip Barrows. Gerry is an orphan and Hip is the son of a doctor. Both seem to be gifted.
The Second Part 'Baby is Three' is the original novella that reads like a mystery. Gerry is at a psychiatrists office and is negotiating for therapy with a sizable amount of cash. Based on the previous novella the cash is a big mystery; but considering this from a reader having only this story a larger mystery unfolds as the analysis begins.
Gerry meets Lone who takes him back to his cabin in the woods where he is introduced to the multi-talented Gestalt. Gerry's own talents are similar to Lone's ; but it takes some time to determine this. The real initial crisis of this story is that Lone has died and left specific instructions about what the Gestalt must do for it's continued existence. The larger crisis is that this stipulation has led to Gerry having murdered someone and this therapy is mostly about getting to the center of that.
Yet as the whole unfolds, the real focus is on the way that the Gestalt of five people are so different from the human parts that there is nothing to compare it to and no real reason to believe that all the socio-psychological behavioral patterns of normal humans should regulate them. And possibly when in the Gestalt they have no fair concept of some of the restrictions that regulate humans. No moral compass.
The third story is 'Morality'; taking up after 'Baby is Three' with the notion that the Gestalt is missing something and Hip Barrows shows up as the target of a superhuman being that has no moral compass. This story returns us also to the notion of the Anti-Gravity device that was previously left installed on a truck in the center of an abandoned farm.
This is a great SFF classic that examines once again the notion of evolution and the possibility of a superman. Unlike 'The Hampdenshire Wonder by J.D. Beresford', which is from an outside point of view the reader gets a close up picture of the inner workings of the minds of these characters and that might add to some of the disjointed feel within the story. Where J.D Beresford gives us a rather dark picture and outcome Sturgeon is somewhat more optimistic.
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