Monday, February 8, 2010

The Hugos: The Demolished Man

1953's Hugo winning novel was by Alfred Bester. (pictured at right) It's a police procedural with telepaths! I remember being very happy with it at the time, not least because the entire PsiCorps subplot in TV's Babylon 5 appears to have its origins here. The book features Classes of telepaths who can overpower one another, forming a clandestine and malevolent thought police, and the breeding programs in use to create more such ESPers. It is fitting that B5's recurring role of wicked psicop was given the name Alfred Bester. B5 also borrowed the ultimate fate of the book's villain for its own future justice system.
For Green Lantern fans such as myself, it is apparently a popular legend that Bester wrote the famous Green Lantern Oath: "In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night, no evil shall escape my sight"
Only the Lanterns know for sure.
Since the Hugo project took me three years I only have the vaguest recollections of the book: it was a quick read, a taut thrill ride, with disturbing characters and chilling concepts. A decadent and bizarre glimpse of a 24th century Captain Picard wouldn't have recognized but Captain Sheridan would have found all too familiar. Three out of four stars.

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