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The demolished man by Alfred Bester

The demolished man (original 1953; edition 1999)

by Alfred Bester

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3,272831,681 (3.96)124
Title:The demolished man
Authors:Alfred Bester (Author)
Info:London : Millennium, 1999.
Collections:LT connections, Your library, Favorites
Tags:20th century, crime, fiction, murder, mystery, novel, paperback, sf, telepathy

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The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (1953)


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English (80)  Romanian (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
I have a bee in my bonnet that I would like to deal with first. I tend to feel annoyed (even though I shouldn’t) when people ask for sci-fi recommendations with the caveat that the book being recommended must not be more than 10 years old. The reason given for this clause is usually because the science is “wrong”, there is no internet or history did not turn out the way the author depicted in the book. WUT? I would like to reiterate that it is not a sci-fi author’s job to predict the future, the whole point is to speculate. Anybody who want to get into reading sci-fi but steadfastly refuse to read the classics from the 50s, 60s etc. is really doing themselves a disfavor and missing out on some of the greatest sf stories and ideas ever written in the history of mankind.

Which brings us to Alfred’s Bester’s The Demolished Man, first published in 1953. Read this or his other classic [b:The Stars My Destination|333867|The Stars My Destination|Alfred Bester|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1433671750s/333867.jpg|1398442] and you will understand why I insist sci-fi readers should never neglect older science fiction. These are two terrific stories that stand the test of time.

In [b:The Stars My Destination|333867|The Stars My Destination|Alfred Bester|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1433671750s/333867.jpg|1398442] Bester posits a strange future society where everybody can teleport using the power of their mind. In The Demolished Man not everybody is a telepath but they are quite commonplace and can be found in all kinds of profession. Boy, did he get the future “wrong”! In lesser hands, this conceit would never work but Alfred’s Bester was able to spin a great yarn from this fairly simple premise.

The Demolished Man is an “inverted detective story” in the reader is immediately told who the murderer is, but the difficulty for our hero is how to catch the devious bastard. The murderer Ben Reich is a “normal”, non-telepathic person, but he is extremely smart and is able to foil even mind reading policemen. For example to avoid his mind being read by telepathic police he goes to a commercial jingle writer to play him a jingle that lodges in his brain after just one listening and bounces around it in an incessant looping playback. The hero policeman Lincoln Powell can barely keep up with him even with all the telepathic power (and manpower) under his disposal. The climax of the book is wonderfully surreal and reminds me of Ursula K. Le Guin’s [b:The Lathe of Heaven|59924|The Lathe of Heaven|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1433084322s/59924.jpg|425872] and PKD’s [b:Flow My Tears the Policeman Said|22584|Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1398026028s/22584.jpg|949696]. A friend recently told me that I sometime inadvertently put spoilers in my reviews so I’d better not elaborate any more on this point.

Bester’s writing style reminds me of noir detective fiction by the likes of [a:Raymond Chandler|1377|Raymond Chandler|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1206535318p2/1377.jpg], with the clipped dialogue and witty banter. The book is quite short so there is not a lot of room for character development, but the protagonist and antagonist are quite complex and believable characters.

All in all a gripping, entertaining and very readable sci-fi classic that should please all sci-fi fans. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Discussed on the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, Episode 61.

http://agoodstoryishardtofind.blogspot.com/2013/06/good-story-061-demolished-man... ( )
  ScottDDanielson | Oct 15, 2015 |
Can one of the richest men in the world get away with murder? It’s 2301, and in the twenty-fourth century there’s another source of power in addition to wealth: the Esper Guild. “An Esper 3 can peep the conscious level of a mind—can discover what a subject is thinking at the moment of thought. A 3rd is the lowest class of telepath.” A 2nd class member of the guild can tell what you’re going to think before you think it. The elite 1st class Esper can read your unconscious primal desires. This presents a terrible problem for Ben Reich his offer to merge his company with that of his arch rival Cray D’Courtney has been flatly refused, and he’s so mad he wants to kill D’Courtney. It’s not just business. This is personal and Reich wants the satisfaction of doing it himself. Never mind that it’s been eighty-seven years since a murder was committed—he is determined and determined that the damned “peepers” won’t catch him.

Bester’s story is a fast-paced cat and mouse game between Reich and Police Prefect, Lincoln Powell, a 1st class Esper. It won the first Hugo Award in 1953 for best science fiction novel. ( )
  MaowangVater | Aug 15, 2015 |
A história dum homem que decide matar um homem numa sociedade dominada por espers que são pessoas com esp e que conseguem ler os nossos pensamentos ou sub consciente. O crime tem de ser preparado com o máximo detalhe para ele não ser apanhado. A fuga tipo gato e rato entre o criminoso e o polícia esper é fascinante bem como o motivo do crime revelado no final. Empolgante. ( )
  bruc79 | Jul 31, 2015 |
Interesting idea but never really gripped me except a few pages about three quarters in, where some genuine uncertainty was introduced about the murder. ( )
  rlangston | Jul 15, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alfred Besterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byttner, GöranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DiFate, VincentIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figueroa, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, HarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehman, SergeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lippi, GiuseppeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Makarský, LubošTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcel, PatrickTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meltzoff, StanleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papy, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pınar, RehaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pepper, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pukallus, HorstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serra, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, ArviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viskupic, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vonnegut, KurtIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Horace Gold
First words
In the endless universe there is nothing new, nothing different.
"Tenser", said the Tensor; "tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun"
Its lucky for the world I'm willing to stop at one murder.   Together we could rape the universe.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679767819, Paperback)

In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn't been heard of in 70 years: murder. That's the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D'Courtney Enterprises. Terrorized in his dreams by The Man With No Face and driven to the edge after D'Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath's knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:14 -0400)

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