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Part adventure, part psychological novel, part realist saga,
This review is from: More Than Human (Paperback)Imagine the X-Men with superpowers confined to extrasensory gymnastics--no storm-summoning, no fire-throwing, and no metal claws--and you'll have an idea of the team that makes up the leading cast of this tale. (I note that other readers have seen the resemblance to the X-Men; the comparison is apt in many ways.)
We are first introduced to Lone, an intellectually incapacitated young man with the ability to hypnotize telepathically. After witnessing a murder and escaping death himself, he lives untamed in the forest, gathering other social outcasts who gravitate toward his cave. There's Janie, with a seemingly unlimited faculty for telekinesis; Bonnie and Beanie, two toddlers who have learned how to teleport themselves; and Baby, a mute whose body is stunted but whose brain is structured like computer. (Sturgeon's insistence on incorporating different races and both sexes as equal partners living together as a new evolutionary species was, in 1953, years ahead of its time.)
This history of this team--the newly evolved Gestalt species--is recounted in three extraordinarily different stories. Even the prose style varies: the opening section has the feel of a Gothic horror story combined with a Jack London tale; the middle is written entirely as teasing banter between a new member of the Gestalt squad and his shrink; and the final chapter could be a Depression-era tale by Steinbeck (or, more precisely, an episode of HBO's "Carnivale").
The book's shortcoming--and it's not insignificant--is Sturgeon's tendency to hammer home the import of his stories. Each of the three endings abandons subtleness and representation for bluntness and pontification; it sometimes seems that the author presents each resolution in the same manner he would reveal a mathematical proof. Thus (and I'll phrase my criticisms without exposing the book's secrets), the group of misfits discerns how they can work together as a team; thus, the team learns how they are a cohesive whole; thus, the totality endeavors to develop their own morality. Nothing is left for the reader to interpret or even to imagine.
In spite of its overly meticulous endings, "More Than Human" has much to say about human society and ethics. Part adventure story, part psychological novel, part realist saga, the whole of its parts--like the species it portrays--is unlike anything else you'll find in science fiction.