The Demolished Man [Alfred Bester] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. In the year , the wealthiest man in the universe is determined to. In I bought a 30p second-hand paperback because I liked the title: ‘The Demolished Man’, by Alfred Bester. This fits into a rare category of. That’s the challenge Alfred Bester sets himself in his unconventional cult classic The Demolished Man, the first novel to win the Hugo Award back in
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The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. Essay by Ted Mxn Imagine a world without murder. Then use it as the setting for a murder mystery.
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
That’s the challenge Alfred Bester sets himself semolished his unconventional cult classic The Demolished Manthe novel that was the first winner of Hugo Award. The book is an oddity—half science fiction and half detective story, mixing in generous doses of the police procedural genre while antici- pating elements that would come to the fore in later cyberpunk lit.
With its fast pace and campy atmospherics, the book also reminds us that Bester made his living writing for comic books, radio and television. The Demolished Man is set in the world of the yearwhen police have an easy time of it.
The Demolished Man
No successful premeditated murder has been committed in 79 years. The existence of a cadre of mind-readers—known as “Espers”—make it impossible to hide criminal intent from the authorities. A murderer will either be stopped before the crime is even committed, or apprehended immediately afterwards. Reich’s firm, Monarch Industries, is on the verge of bankruptcy, and he feels rebuffed in his attempts to propose a merger.
In case some readers miss the presidential allusion, Alffed sometimes falls into a habit of telling outlandish tall tales—taking on an alternate persona, one that the policeman himself calls “Dishonest Abe.
Reich needs some expert help if he is to plan and execute a murder without coming to Demoliehed attention. He enlists the support of Gus Tate, another Class 1 Esper and psychiatrist who is a renegade among demolushed mind-readers. When demolisjed is around Reich, Tate can block the efforts of other Espers, and can also snoop around in surrounding minds in order to assist in the plotting and execution of the crime.
Tenser, said the Tensor. Tension, apprehension, And dissension have begun….
Bester no doubt wanted lyrics whose sheer inanity would keep mind-readers at bay. Now Lincoln Powell and Ben Reich are caught up in a race to find the missing eyewitness. The action is enlivened by the some jive James Bond-ish gadgetry—flash grenades that destroy the retinas of unfortunate on-lookers, harmonic guns that kill with soundwaves, etc.
The book is zany, and moves ahead with the brash momentum of a superhero comic book. But Bester demolidhed to impart some psychological gravitas through generous doses of Freudian concepts and plenty of psychiatric jargon.
Many readers will find this story maddening and unsatisfying. Josh Wimmer has cited The Demolished Man as an evidence for why highbrow literary types look down on sci-fi—not without some justification.
The comparison may be a bit unfair—Hemingway never set a novel besteer the 24th century—but even fans of Bester’s work can hardly avoid recognizing the slapdash quality that permeates the novel. No, this is not great literature. And the concept itself of a femolished plotting the perfect murder in an age when premeditated crimes have been eradicated is a thought-provoking one.
Dick —and later Steven Spielberg—drew on a similar concept for Minority Report. Bester never quite freed himself from the pulp fiction and TV script formulas that cast a long shadow over most genre works of the era, but he was a master of these very same recipes. As a result, anyone wanting to understand why action-packed genre tales had such a large following during the middle decades of alfrd 20th century could hardly do better than to make the acquaintance of this author and his most famous novel.
Ted Gioia writes on music, literature and popular culture. His latest book is Love Songs: Publication date of this demolishwd N ew A ngles on an O ld G enre. P ostmodern M ystery. Postmodern Mystery is a web site devoted to experimental, unconventional and postmodern approaches to stories of mystery and suspense.
Alfred Bester turned his back on the law at an early age—dropping out of Columbia Law School and embracing genre literature in his mids.
He won a competition, which led to the publication of his first story, “The Broken Axiom” in Thrilling Wonder Stories in During the s, Bester wrote for pulp fiction periodicals, comic books and newspaper comic strips, and contributed story lines to Superman, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and the Green Lantern.
Bester is believed be the originator of the Green Lantern ‘ s oath “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight…” etc. After World War II, he earned a living as scriptwriter for radio and later television.
He is best known today for his science fiction work from the mids, especially The Demolished Manwinner of the first Hugo Award for best novel inand T he Stars My Destination He published little fiction in later years, and at his death in he left all of his possessions beste his bartender. Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at www. Click on image to purchase.
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