“The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester

Back online after a few days (travel and a visit to a friend)

On a long trip by car I listened to Alfred Bester’s novel “The Demolished Man”.

The story depicts a society where the police has telepathic detectives (“esper”s) solving crimes – or even act to prevent crimes.

The “Esper’s Guild” divides telepaths into firsts , seconds and thirds according to the strength of the telepaths.

Ben Reich, who is very critical of the Esper’s Guild, decides to eliminate a financial competitor and attempts to escape the telepathic detectives by hiring another telepath to block his thoughts.
After many twists and turns the prosecutor (a computer) dismisses tha case because of insufficient evidence.
In the end he is, after all punished by the Esper’s Guild (in spite of the aquittal) , and has his mind wiped and reprogrammed – a process called “Demolition”

The story has some nice twists and turns , and a surprising “inner journey” which I like.

The story was published in 1953 and exhibits some of the predudices opf the time, eg relating to women’s “place” in society , but if you can see through that´, the story works on its own premise , though seems a bit dated in our day and age. Also – Venus is depicted as a habitable world , something which is now known to be incorrect.

In any case I enjoyed the story, notwithstanding those weaknesses

Also – in the Series “Babylon 5” JMS (J.M. Straczynski) pays hommage to the story by naming his villain telepath (“Psi-Cop”) Alfred Bester.

I would rate the story 7/10.

Wikipedia entry for “The Demolished Man”

2 thoughts on ““The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester

  1. I enjoyed this book too. I heard it reviewed on Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas and that piqued my interest. After reading that book, my understanding of the Psicorps from Babylon 5 increased by a quantum level.

    It also made me question where the line is for plagerism versus homage is with respect to JMS’ writing

  2. I would agree that JMS treads a fine line here, the Psi Corps of B5 has *a lot* in common with the Esper Guild og The Demoloshed Man – when it comes to its organisation.

    When it comes to how the corps is used in the B5 story – eg. as weapons in the Shadow War, I think JMS has added significant value to the idea of the Esper Guils , and that is why I would consider it homage and not plagerism

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