More Than Human by Theodore Surgeon

more than human (1)Theodore Sturgeon’s novel More Than Human is a terrific book for precocious teenagers.  I can say that because I was once a precocious teenager, at least a precocious reader, circa 1980.

Bored with high school, someone told me I could take classes at the nearby junior college, where the English department offered an evening class in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Sign me up!

I took the class three, maybe four times, since it was repeatable and the professor who taught always selected different  books each semester.

One of them was Theodore Sturgeon’s More Than Human, the story of what might come next in human evolution.   What comes next in More Than Human is a gestalt, a being made up of many humans, linked together psychically.  Twin sisters who do not speak but can teleport, a young woman with telekinetic skills who can talk to a genius trapped in the body of a deformed infant and one simple man who holds them all together.  Unable to function on their own, the people who make up the gestalt being come together through the novel to form a new creature, something no longer human, something more.

It was heady stuff for a precocious reader, sitting among this group of college students with an old hippie professor, looking at what might be our future.

I loved it.

And I’ve wanted to re-read the book for quite some time.  Now that I have, I’m pleased to say that it holds up pretty well for a book that was already almost 30 years old when I first read it.

I wouldn’t look too closely at the ideas the book presents, certainly not as anything that could really  happen.  In 1980 it was still fashionable to believe psychic ability was possible, but today this is the stuff of fantasy.  I’m not so sure that More Than Human would really qualify as science fiction now for this reason.

But the novel is very well crafted, the characters well drawn, their conflicts interesting reading.  The writing is journeyman work in the most complimentary sense of the term, professional if not exactly artful.  I was impressed to find just how well-crafted More Than Human turns out to be.  While I’m not impressed with the idea of a gestalt being like I was in high school, I am still a fan of Mr. Sturgeon.

For some reason I never got around to reading anything else by Theodore Sturgeon, a situation I should rectify.  More Than Human may not be his only gem.

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4 Comments

  1. That is an interesting insight, the way what seemed like science fiction turns into fantasy over time. I believe that is true for a number of great science fiction novels. Maybe that means that someday it will be true for all of them.

    1. Do they move from their into mythology? I recently read The Forever War which is much more “hard science” than this one. I did not get the sense that it had moved into fantasy at all. I think the amount of hard science involved and how good that science is will play a role in how long a piece of science fiction remains science fiction.

  2. This is interesting. It is interesting to think what people might involve into over the next millions of years, if the planet lasts so long. I think the stages of evolution are so fascinating and it would be nice if we could use our brains even more but with all the focus on Facebook on mobile phones and texting we may end up back in the trees. ha ha

    1. On the other hand, all this connectivity may spur us one to something resembling the gestalt creature in More Than Human.

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