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More Than Human (1953)

by Theodore Sturgeon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,510534,062 (3.87)103
In this genre-bending novel, among the first to have launched sci fi into literature, a group of remarkable social outcasts band together for survival and discover that their combined powers render them superhuman. There's Lone, the simpleton who can hear other people's thoughts; Janie, who moves things without touching them; and the teleporting twins, who can travel ten feet or ten miles. There's Baby, who invented an antigravity engine while still in the cradle, and Gerry, who has everything it takes to run the world except for a conscience. Separately, they are talented freaks. Together, they may represent the next step in evolution-or the final chapter in the history of the human race. As they struggle to find whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it, Sturgeon explores questions of power and morality, individuality and belonging.… (more)
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    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
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    Up the Walls of the World by James Jr. Tiptree (debbiereads)
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    The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman (MyriadBooks)
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    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: Well, More Than Human is the sci-fi Sound+Fury, so get to it, fans!
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    A Small and Remarkable Life by Nick DiChario (ShelfMonkey)
    ShelfMonkey: DiChario is the only writer I've found who echoes Theodore Sturgeon will still remaining vigorous and fresh.
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» See also 103 mentions

English (51)  French (2)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
I have no explanation for my deep love of this novel. It's hokey and ridiculous and overwrought and leaves bushels of interesting themes all over the place, unassembled. It's hopelessly dated. I love it. I connect with these very implausible characters. I revere this author for writing with such careless abandon of form or plot and who still keeps me riveted. This may have been my fourth or fifth reading of this particular novel. It's one of my security-blanket books. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
Evidently Sturgeon's novel is prototypical New Wave SF: characters emphasised over science, competing ideas and ideals foregrounded while chases and battles sidelined. The storytelling is well done, from prose to structure and plotting.

Sturgeon uses a distinctive narrative voice: stylised, meant to represent a non-neurotypical intelligence, and achieves that memorably. He does this three times, actually: the first and third parts are in third-person omniscient; the 2nd in first person, each time following a different character. He pairs these voices with an exceedingly economical prose style: this is a short novel, reads fast, but contains a lot of content in that short narrative. Some of that is the prose: poetic but clear, unadorned, it's the combination of simple words not a selection of fancy or unusual words. But just as crucial to the style is the novel's structure and plotting. Three intertwined novellettes or novellas, a focus on short scenes which show rather than tell, with much action relayed retrospectively (either reviewing memories, or relaying history in brief episodes). There are overlapping characters but from different time periods.

Against all this, Sturgeon stays alert both to the implications of his ideas, and also their potential. His plots and premises often flow because they start not "at the beginning", but in medias res. Such choices grab the reader's attention, and Sturgeon lets the full picture resolve naturally, unspooling details and background until the story's uncertain images come into focus. The denouement dilates from his central idea, reflecting on how human evolution, as he conceives it, raises distinct ethical questions for his characters. Sturgeon's finale accommodates both the preceding conflict and thematic ambition, a mix of plot climax and conceptual revelation.

I really enjoyed the concept and how Sturgeon realised it, overall a welcome counterweight to the prevailing Marvel / DC approach to superheroes. While Sturgeon never uses the term "superhero" (referring instead to Homo gestalt), arguably a new kind of superhero is precisely what he describes. ( )
1 vote elenchus | Dec 5, 2019 |
A novel about friendship, and synergy, as a new form of entity attempts to live in the community of 1950's America. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 14, 2019 |
So this is one of those classic Science Fiction books that make it to the best of lists. It was originally written in 1953, and for being that old, it feels modern in its setting. However, it feels incredibly dated in the story. Telepathy has run its course in science fiction, and many of the ideas are old and could be considered laughable.

The biggest problem is the idea of the "gestalt". Where multiple people form something that is bigger than them. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, because it feels like the person with the "brain" of this gestalt decides everything, and the rest of the group gets no say. This concept would have worked if there is a true blending, but theres not. The telekinesis part of this gestalt goes off on her own to teach the "brain" humility. Also, the "brain" can't talk to the calculator portion of the gestalt. So there are serious problems to this book.

The second problem is how the author deals with racism and disabity. For 1953, I suspect the author was fairly forward thinking about race. But, with the black twins, Beanie and Bonnie, don't even talk and are the "feet" of the gestalt, used mostly for fetching things far away. And baby isn't really a character. He is a "Mongloid" - which I'm assuming is Down Syndrome, but the author never describe him beyond the label. All he is a computer, able to answer questions when given enough input, but never moves past being an infant.

So, its a book that has many problems, and it is full of ideas, even if not properly implemented. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Sep 7, 2019 |
Love love love it ( )
  Vulco1 | Oct 12, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sturgeon, Theodoreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellison, HarlanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pepper, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudnicki, StefanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viskupic, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To His Gestaltitude
Nicholas Samstag
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The idiot lived in a black and gray world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Fabulous Idiot - Baby is Three - Morality
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