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The Demolished Man [Hardcover]

Alfred Bester
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1951 0824014022 978-0824014025
In the year 2301, the wealthiest man in the universe is determined to commit murder in a world in which telepaths are used to detect possible crimes before they can happen. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

SALES POINTS * #14 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written * The first-ever winner of the Hugo Award for best sf novel of the year. * 'Bester's two superb books have stood the test of time. For nearly fifty years they've held their place on everybody's list of the ten greatest sf novels' -- Robert Silverberg * 'Alfred Bester wrote with the pedal to the floor and the headlights on full beam. His work combined erudition with an unparalleled imaginative inventiveness. Bester was writing cyberpunk while William Gibson was still running around zapping the other kids at school with a toy raygun' -- James Lovegrove --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By JR Dunn
Format:Paperback
Bester was a writer of the 50s, the brute-force, high-tension 50s of film noir, cool jazz, Brando, Tennesee Williams, and "Sweet Smell of Success". Nowhere is the essential nature of the decade better depicted than in his two novels of the period, "The Demolished Man" and "The Stars My Destination".

The premise of "The Demolished Man" is simplicity itself: how do you go about committing murder in a society where the cops can read minds, and alternately, how does the telepathic cop nail his man when he knows damn well he's guilty but has no evidence? A not unusual SF premise, more compelling than most, perhaps. But what makes "Demolished Man" worth reading a half-century on is its milieu and style. Bester was that rarity in SF, a writer of true sophistication. There is not a page of this novel that does not glow with that sense of knowledge of the world beyond the pulps. Some of us, alas, grew up thinking that this was what SF should be. (William Gibson learned from this novel--though not enough.) There was scarcely room for this kind of thing in the 50s. There is no room for it now, nor any sign that there ever will be again.

In its final pages, "Demolished Man" makes a metaphysical shift from detective story into something else, a near-religious leap of transcendance that could only be portrayed in science fiction, and then only in the best. A widely-known feature of the genre is the fact that its writers tend to stick to well-worn paths, grinding out the same ideas over and over. When Bester finished with the theme of "Demolished Man", no writer touched it ever again. Nobody dared try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the science fiction greats Jan. 17 2004
Format:Paperback
(First, just to make something clear: this book has no connection to the Snipes/Stallone stinker movie _Demolition Man_.)
Bester's first novel (after years of short stories, comics, and radio) also won the first Hugo Award, and deserved it. This is cyberpunk mayhem thirty years before anyone invented the term, a lightning ride through language, deception, and murder. The book I find it most closely resembles is Paul Cain's crime thriller _Fast One_, duplicating its speed and moral relativism.
In Bester's imagined future, Espers (telepaths) make murder impossible to commit, so mad industrialist Ben Reich just has to find a way to get away with it. The plot follows policeman Lincoln Powell, a powerful esper, in his quest to nail Reich, and Reich's delirious evasions. At stake may be the whole of society.
I have only one negative thing to say for this book: it still isn't as good as Bester's other great novel, _The Stars My Destination_. Buy both of them today and plunge into the best of science fiction.
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By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Demolished Man earned Alfred Bester the very first Hugo award for best science fiction novel of the year ever awarded, and the novel's influence on science fiction has been immense over the years. The novel is a wonderfully original, fascinating tale of a future society in which guns and murder are all but forgotten, yet this brave new world's very future comes to hang in the balance as a result of one powerful man's thoughts, dreams, and fears. In the world of 2301 A.D., seventy years have passed since the last murder, and guns are nothing more than forgotten museum pieces. Espers, or peepers, men and women able to read minds when called upon to do so, are able to spot anyone contemplating a violent crime long before that person is able to act. Perhaps only one man would dare to plan a cold-blooded murder and have the guts, influence, wiles, and coercive power to pull it off; such an audacious action can only be achieved with the aid of a first class peeper, and the ethics of each and every peeper is basically unassailable. Ben Reich, head of the Monarch company and one of the most powerful men in the world, is losing his decade-long fight against the firm of Craye D'Courtney, and he eventually determines that he has no choice but to kill his rival. It won't be easy, especially the bypassing of peepers, but he has the will and the means to pull off the impossible. Prefect Lincoln Powell, a first class peeper, is called on to investigate the murder; figuring out who killed D'Courtney is easy, but proving it is something else. Convincing the super-computer at the district attorney's office of an open and shut case requires every single piece of the puzzle being put into place. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tight, Engaging Story Dec 15 2002
Format:Paperback
Powerful corporate executive Ben Reich attempts to get away with murder. He's opposed by mind reading police detective Lincoln Powell.
This book was a pleasure to read. Bester has a wonderful, crisp writing style that lends itself well to his quick-moving plot. Plot is the real focus of this story. Bester explores both the characters of Reich and Powell, but he never does so at the expense of the story.
Mind reading is Bester's key conceit in "The Demolished Man". In Reich's world, Espers, as they're called, are ranked into one of three groups based on their mind reading ability. Much of the plot revolves around both of the main characters trying to use mind reading to their advantage. Powell relies chiefly on his innate mind-reading ability, while Reich obtains the help of other Esper characters. Bester does a fantastic job of integrating this main concept into his story.
I always derive some amusement from the technology imagined in older sci-fi novels. For instance, why do the humans who have developed the technology to take quick flights to the moons of Jupiter, still use computers that read and write via tape?
Too many modern sci fi/fantasy authors write slow-moving, bloated books. The Demolished Man is the exact opposite -- succinct, fast paced, and engaging. I highly recommend it.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars How Dissappointing.
The first half of the book was pretty good, developing a vivid and gritty futuristic world where telepaths are a part of the human population. Read more
Published on June 28 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Sci-fi Classic
Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man remains an engaging, well-written novel even long after it was first published. Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by "dhowenstine"
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting pulp...
Well, to start a review of a first Hugo winner, one would need to compose ones mind, to agree with himslef what he has to say to other readers... Read more
Published on Feb. 2 2004 by Matko Vladanovic
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book, science fiction at its very best!
I assume that you have heard of this book. If you haven't read
it but plan to do so "some day," today should be the day. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Still better than the best after all these years.
Some complain that the Freudianim of this book is wrong. Read more
Published on May 31 2003 by "yogsothoth666"
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome awesome awesome
classic pulp scifi. a fantastic read, well written, entertaining, thought provoking, engaging...too bad the author didn't spend his whole career writing scifi! Read more
Published on May 25 2003 by zolo
5.0 out of 5 stars fast-paced thriller in the form of a science fiction novel..
The Demolished Man is my first Alfred Bester novel. And I was very impressed with it. It has the delicious characteristics of being a mystery novel in a futuristic (24th century)... Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2002 by lazza
4.0 out of 5 stars When Sci/Fi was young
I have been reading science fiction for the last twenty years. How is it that I missed out on this treasure? Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2002 by D. Austin
3.0 out of 5 stars REPROGRAMMING MANKIND
Written fifty years ago, Bester's story gives us another tactic for polishing man's morality-human Espers or peepers who can read the minds of would be liars, cheats and murderers. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2002 by Worldreels
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