Saturday, 30 May 2009

"The Synthetic Man" by Theodore Sturgeon

In preparation for an upcoming move (across town), I've been working through a pile of books so that I can sell them back to the Book Exchange and lighten the load a bit. One of the recent quickies I whipped through is "The Synthetic Man" by Theodore Sturgeon. I had previously read and enjoyed "More Than Human", which was featured in the Gollancz "Sci-fi Masterworks" collection that revived my interest in reading the classics of the genre.

This book reminds me of "Blood Music" by Greg Bear. The protagonist of both books has a power he is at first unaware of, but which grows as his confidence and awareness grow. In this case, we follow "Horty", a boy who becomes an extraordinary man. He is both more and less than human. As mentioned on the back cover, as a boy he loses three fingers, which reminded me of "Demon with a Glass Hand" just a little bit, even though the two stories are very different.

A better comparison is with Borges' "The Circular Ruins", where a man is imagined into being by another man until the imagined man assumes a life of his own. This book seems like a simpler treatment of the same idea.

Still, it's entertaining enough. If you want a quick read that lies somewhere between the heady fare of Borges and the guilty pleasure of pure space opera, there are worse ways to spend your time.

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