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The Demolished Man

Alfred Bester

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Gollancz

Published : 1999

Copyright : Alfred Bester 1953, 1999

ISBN-10 : PB 1-85798-822-1
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-85798-822-2

Publisher's Write-Up

In the year 2301, guns are only museum pieces and benign telepaths sweep the minds of the populace to detect crimes before they happen. In 2301 murder is virtually impossible, but one man is about to change that...

Ben Reich, a psychopathic business magnate, has devised the ultimate scheme to eliminate the competition and destroy the order of his society. In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn't been heard of in 70 years: murder. That's the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D'Courtney Enterprises.

Terrorized in his dreams by The Man With No Face and driven to the edge after D'Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath's knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence.

The Demolished Man is a masterpiece of imaginative suspense, set in a superbly imagined world in which everything has changed except the ancient instinct for murder.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Annett Grosser-Rogoff (300413) Rating (7/10)

Review by Annett Grosser-Rogoff
Rating 7/10
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester is without question one of the very few Sci-Fi books that don’t seem to age. It was written in 1951 but manages to surprise with elements of newer fiction that paint a modern picture of the interesting characters of the novel.

The story describes a world of enormously potent associations and unions where people are kept under control with the help of telepaths. Murder does not exist anymore as these so called 'Espers' can see the intention before the crime has happened. In seventy years no-one who tried has successfully evaded capture. Despite this level of control; Ben Reich, the CEO of Monarch - one of the leading business corporations - decides to kill his biggest business rival to increase his own influence, take over his company to prevent being swallowed up and figures that if he can convince an Esper to help cover up his thoughts, he can avoid getting caught if he's dauntless enough. However, it seems implausible that no-one has tried this in the last seventy years, but maybe the Esper Guild penalties for assisting lawbreakers are such a big put-off. Reich’s adversary is police-chief Lincoln Powell - one of the more powerful Espers.

This results in an incredibly speedy story that maintains to stay surprising and intoxicating. Bester superbly manages to blend together the Sci-Fi with the crime/thriller genre without losing the grip on fans of either group. Up to this point the story flows very well, but it takes a turn for the worse, when Reich is revealed to be not just a killer, but also a rare type of person who can change society. The vagueness of this is not explained well and leaves a bitter after-taste. The whole concept is interesting because it’s hugely based on the view of ego and superego by Freud that was quite widespread at the time the story was written.

Altogether this is a very influential book that kept its relevance over the years and is certainly worth reading more than once.
Annett Grosser-Rogoff (30th April 2013)

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