The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

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547-1.jpgAlmost sixty years after it was first published, Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man (reserve it here) is still one of the most suspenseful, exciting and nail-biting thrillers you'll ever read.  Set in the 24th century, the book revolves around an Earth that, besides possessing fantastic technology and the ability to travel to other planets the way you and I would to the next state, almost everyone has developed extra sensory perception (ESP) and, depending on their particular range, can "peep" into the minds of their fellow beings.  Crime, especially homicide, is pretty much defunct, with the most highly developed "espers" using their abilities for law enforcement purposes and generally keeping the peace. 

Espers who misuse their powers are expelled from the Espers Guild and/or face the dreaded "Demolition". 

But one enterprising (and desperate) esper, industrialist Ben Reich, nevertheless plans to get away with murdering his biggest business rival, without getting caught.  Things however don't go quite as smoothly as hoped, and soon Police Prefect -and Class 1 Esper- Lincoln Powell is on Reich's trail. Proving Reich's involvement and guilt quickly becomes a heated battle of wits between the espers though, with each blocking the other at every turn.  While Reich begins to fear for his freedom and very life, Powell risks everything -his job, advancement in the Espers' Guild, even his own life- to nail the murderer. But which of these two men will become the eponymous "Demolished Man"?  And just who is the "Man With No Face" Reich secretly fears, anyway? 

Published in 1953, after first being serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, The Demolished Man (which subsequently won the very first Hugo award) is a terrific police procedural novel with an emphasis not just on science but also characterzation.  Bester allows us access within the inner minds of his two main characters so we wind up getting caught up in the novel's rush along with (and even feeling sorry for) Reich and Powell.  Some great dialogue and Bester's way with words ("Fully dressed and in his wrong mind, Reich stormed out of his apartment.."  is one of my favorites), as well as a vivid description of what the 24th century looks like, and even greater exciting moments like the "Spaceland" sequence (where Powell furiously tries to stop Reich from murdering one of his accomplices), make The Demolished Man an enjoyable and entertaining experience for any reader!  Highly recommended! 

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This page contains a single entry by Ed published on May 13, 2010 12:11 PM.

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