More Than Human

by Theodore Sturgeon

Cover image

Publisher: Ballantine
Copyright: 1953
Printing: 1976
ISBN: 0-345-24389-7
Format: Mass market
Pages: 188

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What happens when a collection of social misfits and outcasts with horrible lives and psychic powers discover each other and in the process discover that they're part of a unified whole?

That's the basic premise of one of the books that's considered a classic of science fiction. It's hard reading at the start, because the lives of some of these characters are truly horrific, but about fifty pages in it started to grab me and pull me along for the ride. The ride, though, wandered through some pretty heavy-handed psychology, and the tail end of the book headed off into more preaching than I liked, leaving a bit of a bad taste in my mouth by the time I finished it.

This is actually a collection of three novellas, and the second two are better than the first. Endings in all three of them are a problem, though.

Psychology is treated with an eager earnestness in many places that doesn't age well. More Than Human has a feel about it similar to other stories I've read from the era where science fiction was fascinated by psychology and psychiatry. While these stories are never soulless, the breakthroughs in struggles with inner demons described here end up feeling too scientific, stark, and antiseptic for me. Too much terminology mixed in with the showing, too pat resolutions of serious mental breakdowns without lingering after-effects.

The analogies and parallels shown between the human body and mind and the collection of main characters are well done, though, and by the middle of the book I really did care about the characters and what happened to them. It's not boring, and well worth polishing off in a night. It's worth reading as a classic, but as a great story of growth out of alienation, it just didn't connect with me.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2004-05-24

Last modified and spun 2014-12-21