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More Than Human (1953)

by Theodore Sturgeon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,005714,493 (3.86)118
Six misfits, one powerful entity. An award-winning novel about belonging by "one of the greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy who ever lived" (Stephen King). Individually, they are a seemingly simpleminded young man living in the woods who can read the thoughts of others, a runaway girl with telekinetic powers, twin girls who can barely speak but can teleport across great distances, and an infant with a mind like a supercomputer. Together, they are the Gestalt--a single extraordinary being comprised of remarkable parts--although an essential piece may be missing . . .   But are they the next stage in human development or harbingers of the end of civilization? The answer may come when they are joined by Gerry. Powerfully telepathic, he lacks a moral compass--and his hatred of the world that has rejected him could prove catastrophic.    Winner of the International Fantasy Award and considered Theodore Sturgeon's masterpiece, More Than Human is a genre-bending wonder that explores themes of responsibility and morality, individuality, and belonging. Moving and suspenseful, lyrical and provocative, the novel was one of the first to elevate science fiction into the realm of literature, and inspired musicians and artists, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash.   From the Nebula Award-winning author of Godbody, The Dreaming Jewels, and other great works of science fiction, this is an unforgettable reading experience and a must for anyone who enjoys Ramsey Campbell, Robert Silverberg, or Philip José Farmer.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas's Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author's estate, among other sources.… (more)
  1. 10
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  2. 00
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
  3. 00
    The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman (MyriadBooks)
  4. 00
    Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer (ShelfMonkey)
  5. 00
    Up the Walls of the World by James Jr. Tiptree (debbiereads)
  6. 01
    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.
  7. 01
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (tootstorm)
    tootstorm: Well, More Than Human is the sci-fi Sound+Fury, so get to it, fans!
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» See also 118 mentions

English (68)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Story: 3 / 10
Characters: 9
Setting: 5
Prose: 7

I've decided to start breaking down my ratings better. Generally, story is the only element that matters, since literature is a storytelling medium. Thus, my regular rating focuses only on that. You can easily see from the rating breakdown that besides the story, this book was generally quite strong. A similar idea to the wolves in Vinge's Zones of Thought trilogy. Nevertheless, not recommended. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
A new species comes into existence, Homo Gestalt.

This struck enough chords for me to recognise that I probably read it about 40 - 50 years ago at a time when I was reading a lot of SF with similar themes. This time round though, my head being in a different place, I struggled with it and just found it baffling for much of it. It wasn't bad, but I had no particular impulse to pick it up again after doing other things and was forcing myself to finish it just to get it out of the way. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Dec 16, 2023 |
Well done sci-fi. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 12, 2023 |
A jewel of a book, I found it by chance in an attic and it was one of the finest, most beautiful books I've ever read.
Delicious. ( )
  marsgeverson | Jan 12, 2023 |
I love old scifi book covers so much. Again the original:

is so much better than the Kindle edition that looks like ten minutes of Photoshop work:

More Than Human has the sparseness of prose like the other Theodore Sturgeon book I’ve read, The Dreaming Jewels, but only in words used, not in the sentence style and structure. More Than Human seems much further polished. The writing transcends the simplistic language. And perfectly edited prose is exactly what I love.


The idiot lived in a black and grey world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear.


This is the first line, short and fairly simple words, but similar in sharpness and all uncomfortable (punctuated, lightning, flickering) as the idiot is; all working together—as a gestalt—greater than the sum of their parts. As all the best books are.

Due in part to this, Sturgeon has a knack for writing characters that probably couldn’t exist within the real world, but he instills them with just enough humanity so they’re never not unbelievable. The first section is third-person narratives to introduce the unique characters: Lone, the idiot (the idiot brain, that is); Alicia Kew, the girl without sin; Bonnie and Beanie, the teleporting twins; Gerry Thompson, the adult 6 year old; Hip Barrows, who loves radios; Janie, the telepath; and Baby, who is three. The second section is first-person narrative (the coming of the second, immoral brain) happening years later with flashbacks to fill in the missing years. The third is about love, or something deeper than love, and terror (but I think all love is melded with terror). And when a character’s personality changes significantly between parts two and three, you believe it, because Sturgeon has created a real person and real people change.

In the end, it’s not just an exploration of human psychic evolution. It’s “what-if”, yes, but it’s a morality play (or an ethos play, Sturgeon would probably quibble over this). It’s probably closest stylistically to Phillip K Dick: inhuman circumstances, with extremely human thoughts and feelings in an effort to communicate a thought just on the edge of humanity.

If I was underlining in this book (I can’t, it’s Lauren’s), I would have underlined…

- Sometimes the world’s too much to live with and a body sort of has to turn away from it to rest.
- “Ask Baby what is a friend.” “He says it’s somebody who goes on loving you whether he likes you or not.”
- “Ask Baby what kind of people are all the time trying to find out what they are are what they belong to?” “He says, every kind.”
- I started to cry. Fifteen years old and crying like that!
- I looked at him and suddenly realized why he fooled with the pipe all the time. It was so he could look down at it and you wouldn’t be able to see his eyes.
- “Everybody’s alone.” “But some people learn how to live with it.”
- Lovemaking, even the suppressed and silent kind, is a demanding thing, a thirsty and yearning thing.
- The most human thing about anyone is a thing he learns… and earns. It’s a thing he can’t have when he’s very young; if he gets it at all, he gets it after a long search and a deep conviction. After that it’s truly part of him as long as he lives. ( )
1 vote gideonslife | Jan 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sturgeon, Theodoreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chrestien, MichelTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Csernus, TiborCover 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
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary 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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Six misfits, one powerful entity. An award-winning novel about belonging by "one of the greatest writers of science fiction and fantasy who ever lived" (Stephen King). Individually, they are a seemingly simpleminded young man living in the woods who can read the thoughts of others, a runaway girl with telekinetic powers, twin girls who can barely speak but can teleport across great distances, and an infant with a mind like a supercomputer. Together, they are the Gestalt--a single extraordinary being comprised of remarkable parts--although an essential piece may be missing . . .   But are they the next stage in human development or harbingers of the end of civilization? The answer may come when they are joined by Gerry. Powerfully telepathic, he lacks a moral compass--and his hatred of the world that has rejected him could prove catastrophic.    Winner of the International Fantasy Award and considered Theodore Sturgeon's masterpiece, More Than Human is a genre-bending wonder that explores themes of responsibility and morality, individuality, and belonging. Moving and suspenseful, lyrical and provocative, the novel was one of the first to elevate science fiction into the realm of literature, and inspired musicians and artists, including the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills and Nash.   From the Nebula Award-winning author of Godbody, The Dreaming Jewels, and other great works of science fiction, this is an unforgettable reading experience and a must for anyone who enjoys Ramsey Campbell, Robert Silverberg, or Philip José Farmer.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas's Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author's estate, among other sources.

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