August Books 10) The Demolished Man

10) The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester

I think I mistakenly noted that I had already read this on that sf/f books survey the other day. I really did read it last night and this morning, and it really is excellent, to the point that it’s almost impossible to describe without sounding clichéd (… pyrotechnic prose … crazed imagination … far future but recognizable New York … crime novel meets sf …). Not that it is completely without flaws – we are told that there hasn’t been a successful premeditated murder in 79 years, but by the end of the book not one but three people have been killed, and the prevalence of murder weapons and nasty people makes it sem improbable that the murder rate is so very low. The psychic motivations and action of the villainous Ben Reich are vividly narrated but don’t really bear deep scrutiny. The gender relations seem a weird combination of 1950’s morality with occasional lapses into Suetonius. But it really is a great book all the same, driving you on to finish it. Won the first ever Hugo award, in 1953, the year of birth of Dave Langford and Walter Jon Williams.

Hugo Awards
1950s: The Demolished Man (1953) | The Forever Machine (1955) | Double Star (1956) | The Big Time (1958); The Incredible Shrinking Man (1958) | A Case of Conscience (1959)

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