Paul's Reviews > To Marry Medusa

To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon
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M 50x66
's review
Aug 13, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: sciencefictionfantasy

First published in the 1950s, this is the story of Daniel Gurlick, a barely literate and drunken member of society. He spends his days looking for free drinks from the local bars. He sleeps in a junked car in the back of a local junkyard. He inhales a half-eaten hamburger, found in the trash in the back of a local restaurant, not knowing that it contains a spore of an alien being called Medusa, that plans to absorb humanity into itself.

Medusa is an entity of infinite intelligence, spanning a billion planets. After it makes itself known to Gurlick, Medusa tries to explain just what is going on, and what Gurlick’s part is in all this, but Gurlick doesn’t understand. Medusa tries several times, but Gurlick still doesn’t comprehend. It reduces things to the equivalent of a beginner’s level, and, finally, Gurlick begins to get it. The second problem faced by Medusa is that humanity is not mentally linked. All of the other civilizations it has absorbed have had some sort of group mind system, so it doesn’t know how to deal with humanity. The best it can come up with is that maybe mankind was mentally linked at some point in the past, then somehow became un-linked. Gurlick is compelled to build a machine, that will build other machines, that will build still more machines, that will spread all over the world and broadcast a sort-of thought beam that will link all of humanity. Medusa’s intelligence will be transferred into humanity at the moment when Gurlick’s now-altered DNA impregnates an ovum.

Among the people changed when the machines start broadcasting is Paul Sanders, who had drugged a female co-worker and was planning to take advantage of her. Sharon is a little girl spending her second night in the woods, lost and starving. She suddenly understands that this type of fungus is actually good for her, and this is how to catch and kill a rabbit, among other things. Humanity destroys the vast majority of the machines in the first couple of hours after they start transmitting, but the "damage" is done.

This is a great novel, bordering on "classic." It’s nice and mind-blowing, and will give the reader plenty to think about.

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