Golem 100 Hardcover – Apr 1980
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Science in this science fiction book is psychology, mainly Jungian psychoanalysis. In this book the world of the collective subconcious comes to life.
The world in Golem^100 is the sort of demented corporate-run future described in Bester's earlier work, The Computer Connection. Here it's described in even darker tones.
There's a lot of dark humor in Golem^100, and some of it may not be to everyone's liking - if you're offended by necrophilia jokes don't read this book. If you can stomach some VERY graphic violence (with innards all over the place), twisted humor and a plot that involves mutants, demons and radioactive drugs, read this book. While not a masterwork, it's a very original, inventive, thrilling read.
Police investigator, Subador Ind'dni is baffled by the killings but learns the truth when he is eventually confronted by the strange goings on between Blaise Shima and the Psychodynamicist, Gretchen Nunn, who has been employed by Blaise Shima's employers to discover why their top perfume designer is acting oddly.
Attempts to destroy the Golem appear to have succeded, but Gretchen Nunn is ultimately a replacement to the ladies that instigated the problem, and Subador Indin'dni becomes the Golem.
Much of this book is very similar to Iain M Banks' material, a couple of sections pretty much a precursor to sections of Use of Weapons and Against a Dark Background. The opening chapter is similar to John Updike's, The Witches of Eastwick. Overall, Golem 100 was a straightforward read apart from a few parts toward the final pages, which were a bit tiresome and which can be skimmed through. A section in which a number of murders were taking place was awkwardly handled: the break from Suabador Indin'dni to a sequence of murders and back again, taking a page or two to figure out what the intended effect was supposed to be, since it was a stylistic divergence from the preceding text.
All of the illustrations worked okay, but were sometimes a little confusing because they were either post or pre sync to the text.
In general, Golem 100 is a well put together piece of work all the links well thought through and convincing. The satirical aspect of the book was - I'm afraid to say - dependant upon events that I've forgotten the relevance of, making this aspect of the book little more than slightly comedic. Doubtless there are others, who will be better informed than myself, and more appreciative of Alfred Bester's intentions...
Perhaps it's my own jadedness due to age, but Bester's attempts at "extreme fiction" seem pretty risible now. There are plenty of grisly murders, and the PLO occupies part of New York like a mob, led by an ancient crone. The "Inspector" is a "homosexual" high caste Hindu, and the protagonist a beautiful, voluptuous black woman, blind but who can see through others' eyes. (She doesn't realize she's blind until another character points it out.) -- I would say he's trying too hard.
The other moderately interesting aspect was the use of Jack Gaughan's illustrations throughout. It is almost an experimental novel in some aspects due to the use of these.
In other words...not a classic by any means. I get the feeling Bester was channeling Willam S Burroughs, but Cities of the Red Night and Place of Dead Roads followed this book.
Bester explores the definition of what a literary text is through his use of visual imagery over textual narrative at several points in the novel. To quote China Mieville "...Chapter 13 is the revelation...though which words must find their way. The images are the engine, organizing what language there is, invoking awe and, on the last page, an irruption of sudden textless terror. This is how you'll discover modernism and its typographical games..."
It is also an easy and brutally hilarious read.