Action and more action - enough unexpected zigzags to keep any reader guessing. These Telepaths take up many roles in society, such as physician and police commissioner. To add complexity to this brain peeping, the Espers are categorized by the level they can penetrate: 3rd Class Espers can peep the conscious mind to discover what the person is thinking at the moment, 2nd Class Espers can peep below the conscious level to the preconscious and 1st Class Espers can peep all the way down to the unconscious, the deepest levels of the mind. If all this peeping sounds like an invasion of privacy, you are spot-on - it most certainly is an invasion of privacy! Deep Psychology: Coupled with brain peeping, the characters in the novel pepper their conversation with Freudian terms like id, ego, superego.

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Bester no doubt wanted lyrics whose sheer inanity would keep mind-readers at bay. Now Lincoln Powell and Ben Reich are caught up in a race to find the missing eyewitness. The action is enlivened by the some jive James Bond-ish gadgetry—flash grenades that destroy the retinas of unfortunate on-lookers, harmonic guns that kill with soundwaves, etc. The book is zany, and moves ahead with the brash momentum of a superhero comic book.

But Bester tries to impart some psychological gravitas through generous doses of Freudian concepts and plenty of psychiatric jargon. Many readers will find this story maddening Demolished Man as an evidence for why highbrow literary types look down on sci-fi—not without some justification. No, this is not great literature. And the concept itself of a man plotting the perfect murder in an age when premeditated crimes have been eradicated is a thought-provoking one.

Dick —and later Steven Spielberg—drew on a similar concept for Minority Report. Bester never quite freed himself from the pulp fiction and TV script formulas that cast a long shadow over most genre works of the era, but he was a master of these very same recipes. As a result, anyone wanting to understand why action-packed genre tales had such a large following during the middle decades of the 20th century could hardly do better than to make the acquaintance of this author and his most famous novel.

Ted Gioia writes on music, literature and popular culture.


The Demolished Man

Major characters[ edit ] Ben Reich, who lacks moral integrity and is willing to take considerable risks in order to see his wishes carried out. His personal mantra is: "Make your enemies by choice, not by accident". Lincoln Powell is a Class 1 Esper in his thirties. He is Prefect of Police, which in this case means chief detective. He is handsome, intelligent, charming and well-liked. As the story opens, he is being considered for the Presidency of the Esper Guild, but since he is single and not married to another Esper, as Guild policy requires, he is disqualified. He lives alone in a house, since highly skilled Espers cannot live in apartment blocks where they are bombarded by the thoughts of others.


Alfred Bester

His father, James J. Bester, owned a shoe store and was a first-generation American whose parents were both Austrian Jews. Their first child, Rita, was born in Though his mother was born Jewish, she became a Christian Scientist , and Alfred himself was not raised within any religious traditions; he wrote that "his home life was completely liberal and iconoclastic. He played on the Penn Quakers football team in and, by his own account, was "the most successful member of the fencing team. Rolly Bester was a Broadway, [8] radio and television actress, originating the role of Lois Lane on the radio program The Adventures of Superman.

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