Werner's Reviews > The Demolished Man

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
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Sep 10, 2008

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bookshelves: science-fiction
Recommended for: Science fiction fans
Read in January, 1995 , read count: 1

This is actually a surprisingly riveting read, which blends the conventions of the mystery genre with science fiction. (And, as is typical of mysteries, there are a few surprises in store for both the characters and the reader.) It's also an intelligent speculation about the social consequences that would be posed by widespread telepathy, in a far-future world in which telepaths are quite common in all walks of life --including law enforcement. (Personally, that's not a world I'd enjoy living in; and I suspect I'm not alone in that!) Lincoln Powell is a well-developed, appealing character; and Bester's characterizations are sharper in general than was common in American SF at that time.

My major philosophical problem here is with Bester's view of criminal behavior such as homicide, which he --and his future society-- sees not as a morally wrong choice justly deserving of punishment, but rather as a symptom of psycho-social maladjustment, calling for (coercive) therapeutic major personality reconstruction. (Hence the title.) That basic difference, of course, stems from different views of the world. But that doesn't negate the literary merit of the book.
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