Perhaps when we think about science fiction, in general, we may still get lost. Even today, there are well-regarded writers in that genre, of great literary stature, who are due for a wider audience. In the case of Theodore Sturgeon, I am certain that, once a follower of his work, there is no turning back. What “More Than Human” achieves is nothing less than to inspire the reader. Its very purpose is to do just that.
The case is made, in a dazzling way, in favor of humanity. All of humanity, in one form or another, is brought up for your consideration. The very notion of humanity is stretched and pulled. We find characters who are clearly living subhuman lives. As in a fable, these characters, at first, seem less than real except, as the story builds, they compel you to turn the page.
What exactly is going on is something we won’t know for some time to come. All we know, at first, is that we have some characters in distress. They’re in a compound in a secluded forest and their very humanity is in danger. But light keeps breaking the dark. And a battle ensues between light and dark. Sturgeon makes us hope for the characters and then gives us reasons to hope for them and well beyond the characters themselves.
Further into the story, one locale will give way to another and one character’s journey will blend with another. Or, as is more to the point, we see key characters who not only blend with one another. They will “blesh” with one another. In fact, our key characters will blesh into something greater than the sum of their parts. And, thus, the title of the book.
Sturgeon provides a seemingly spare and direct style that percolates with fanciful word choice and description. It’s a sturdy narrative with consistently elegant turns. In that way, the pathos of a village idiot, or an insensitive man, or a vulnerable young woman, is best evoked.
“More Than Human” is about some most unlikely misfits who together form the next step in human evolution. Like anything worthy of being a classic, it is so much more than just that. It is more in the way the story unfolds and what it has to say about all of us. It’s more in its determination to express such goofy, yet essential, idealism. Published in 1953, it was ahead of its time in its inherently quirky approach. But, in the years to come, Sturgeon wasn’t exactly obscure to the general public. For instance, he wrote two of the most beloved episodes of the original Star Trek tv show.
It would not be until Kurt Vonnegut caught the limelight that readers in vast numbers would come to rely upon the quirky storytelling associated with Sturgeon. Those in the know, always held Sturgeon in the highest regard. Just give Vonnegut a careful read and you’ll see for yourself. There is a recurring character in the Vonnegut universe named after Sturgeon. His is name is Kilgore Trout.
You can find “More Than Human” over at Amazon right here.