More Than Human – Theodore Sturgeon

More_Than_Human_-_Theodore_Sturgeon_cover

Three people with special powers form a gestalt, but then take on a loner without clear morals.

I don’t know much about Thedore Sturgeon. I think I’d read one or two of his stories before this, but they hadn’t registered much. I knew of his strange name, and had a vague feeling of connection with Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout. I suppose that if you had asked, I might have said I was unsure whether Sturgeon was a real writer, or just some writer’s pseudonymic prank.

In short, I was totally unprepared for this book. I was looking for something new to read, came across it, and thought “”What the heck? Why not give it a shot?””

I’m pretty well read in SFF; after all, I’ve been reading it for almost half a century. I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of who’s who, and what’s good, especially from the last century. It’s astounding to me, then, that all this time, I’ve managed to pretty much ignore Sturgeon.

More Than Human is a revelation from start to finish. Apparently, it’s a couple of stories (“The Fabulous Idiot” and “Morality”) tacked onto the core novella (“Baby is Three”). But aside from some minor quibbles, you couldn’t prove it by me. I was drawn in from the very start, despite a protagonist who says nothing, thinks nothing, and is disconnected from his environment. It’s some of the best writing I’ve encountered for a long while – writing that within the first few pages made me sit up and pay attention, and that didn’t let up until the end.

Essentially, the story is about a new step in evolution – told from the viewpoint of its key participants. That doesn’t sound like much, and I don’t want to include spoilers, but take my word that it works very well. It’s true that the end is slightly pat, but most of it works well, and I can excuse the rest.

I can’t excuse my disregard of Sturgeon, but I’ll be making up for it. More Than Human goes right to my virtual list of most striking SFF novels – the same place that everyone else has had it for years, and deservedly so. If you’ve read Sturgeon, you probably know this book. If you haven’t – start now!

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