Demolished Man (Sf Masterworks 14) Paperback – Jul 8 1999
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Unfortunately this e-edition seems to have been rushed. It is filled with typographical errors, which are made more annoying because the author used odd typography to help you fell the setting. For instance, one character is named 1/4main (Quartermain), and another is Wyg& (Wygand). I am NOT saying these examples are mistakes, but somehow every instance of the word "marry" is spelled "many". There are numerous other instances. I hope it will be cleaned up.
A near future world where a small minority has developed their latent ESP, Bester's world is a compelling mix of utopia and dystopia. The mind police have virtually eliminated crime, either by rooting it out beforehand, or by always catching their man after-the-fact. But this safety comes at a dear price, where the unenforcable promise of the ESPers is only guarantee of privacy that most have.
However, Ben Reich, as head of a major corporate powerhouse, feels that he can outsmart the ESPers. Haunted in his dreams by a mysterious man, and driven by uncontrolled passions, Reich decides to eliminate his chief rival, D'Courtney. The murder sets off a brilliant battle of wits between Reich and the head investigator, Powell, which can only end in the "demolition" of Reich, or the total embarrassment of Powell.
Who gets demolished? What IS "demolition"? Why would Reich risk so much to kill D'Courtney? With so many pressing questions, it was amazing to see Bester wrap this book up in such a fulfilling way. A great mystery with a clever ending, set in a compelling near future world - despite its age, "The Demolished Man" remains a standard-bearer of its field.
P.S. Also if you like this novel read The Stars, My Destination. I think, this is the best novel Alfred Bester written.
But the science is fantastical (a failing of 50's SF) and if you don't like the writing style, you'll most likely not finish the book, so do take a peek first.