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The Wonder by J. D. Beresford
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The Wonder (1911)

by J. D. Beresford

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1910s (1) 333 (1) 2006 (1) Box 34 (1) British (1) c (1) cricket (1) ebook (6) England (2) English literature (1) fantasy (4) fiction (12) genius (1) isbn (2) Kindle (6) novel (3) pga (1) read (1) Red (1) science fiction (20) sf (5) sff (1) speculative fiction (2) super reader (1) superhero prose fiction (1) Superman (1) to-read (5) unique (1) unread (1) Victorian (1)
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I initially picked up this book because I'd seen it mentioned as an aside in a couple of threads here on LT. I hesitated to review it because it's difficult to do so without discussing things that are better discovered in the reading of it.

It was recommended as an early work that would qualify as science fiction (it was published first in 1911), and if the umbrella's stretched far enough, then I suppose it would be considered so. After all, Asimov's "psychohistory" falls in the field, and there's about the same theoretical basis for either. It's safe to actually skim over the bits on Cricket (I loathe sports, and discussion of them), although at least a cursory reading helps with the later events.

One of the best things about this slim book for me was the use of language. It was pleasant to encounter a rich vocabulary, something that seems lost in our modern times. The only other non-technical book I've read in the last decade that used language to its fullest extent was The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It may be that the richness of language puts some off, but it added a great deal for me.

There are strong philosophical points being made in this book, having little to do with the curiosity of an advanced intellect, and the interactions with others. The "Wonder" is used as much as a vehicle to convey the author's theories, and (deliberately) is the least developed character in this tale.

I recommend it, with reservations. It's as much an interesting pastiche of the understanding of intellect and genetics of that day as it is a discussion of the philosophy of the author. ( )
  Lyndatrue | Nov 29, 2015 |
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To my friend and critic
Arthur Scott Raven
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I could not say at which station the woman and her baby entered the train.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803261624, Paperback)

Nothing will ever mystify or challenge the Wonder. He masters entire libraries and languages with little effort. No equation, no problem is too difficult to solve. His casual conversations with ministers and philosophers decimate their vaunted beliefs and crush their cherished intellectual ambitions. The Wonder compels obedience and silence with a glance. His mother idolizes him as a god. Yet no one is more hated or alone than the Wonder.
 
This is the chilling tale of Victor Stott, an English boy born thousands of years ahead of his time. Raised in the village of Hampdenshire, the strangely proportioned young Victor possesses mental abilities vastly superior to those of his fellow villagers. The incomprehensible intellect and powers of the Wonder inspire awe, provoke horror, and eventually threaten to rip apart Hampdenshire.
 
Long recognized as a classic of speculative fiction but never before widely available, The Wonder is one of the first novels about a “superman.” J. D. Beresford’s subtle and intriguing story of a boy with superhuman abilities paved the way for such noted works as Philip Wylie’s Gladiator and A. E. van Vogt’s Slan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:15 -0400)

Nothing will ever mystify or challenge the Wonder. He masters entire libraries and languages with little effort. No equation, no problem is too difficult to solve. His casual conversations with ministers and philosophers decimate their vaunted beliefs and crush their cherished intellectual ambitions. The Wonder compels obedience and silence with a glance. His mother idolizes him as a god. Yet no one is more hated or alone than the Wonder. This is the chilling tale of Victor Stott, an English boy born thousands of years ahead of his time. Raised in the village of Hampdenshire, the strangely proportioned young Victor possesses mental abilities vastly superior to those of his fellow villagers. The incomprehensible intellect and powers of the Wonder inspire awe, provoke horror, and eventually threaten to rip apart Hampdenshire. Long recognized as a classic of speculative fiction but never before widely available, The Wonder is one of the first novels about a ?superman.? J. D. Beresfords subtle and intriguing story of a boy with superhuman abilities paved the way for such noted works as Philip Wylies Gladiator and A. E. van Vogts Slan.… (more)

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