The Demolished Man
Copyright 1953 by
I first read this in 1969 and most recently on the 26th August 2002.
In the world of the 24th Century, the two top conglomerates are Monarch
Utilities & Resources and the D'Courtney Cartel. Ben Reich is the boss of Monarch. He's the
richest capitalist in the solar system, but he wants more. In particular, he wants to take
over his only rival, the D'Courtney Cartel. He's ruthless, unscrupulous and a
With legal avenues to a takeover blocked, he'd happily turn to illegal methods, but he
knows he'd be caught - in the world of the 24th Century, ESP has become a reality,
albeit it a rare one, and espers can sniff out a man's guilt just by reading
But then Reich decides to murder Craye D'Courtney himself in order to take over his
company. In this world whose security is guaranteed by espers, premeditated murder
has become an unknown crime. However Reich believes he has conceived a perfect plan.
He'll need a top telepath to support him, but he can corrupt and cajole one to provide the
To succeed he'll need to be calm, cool and quick-witted, but he's been having very,
very bad dreams and he's heading for a fall. On his trail will be Lincoln Powell,
the Police Prefect of New York, determined to bring him down.
This is one of the great classics of SF, a scintillating novel. The world of the 1950s transported to the
25th Century, but with better technology and with ESP introduced to grant us an
unusual view of a man's mental breakdown.
This time around I wasn't so impressed at the idea of Ben Reich as
but still loved the book, Bester's first novel, especially its change
of pace toward the end which takes it from being a detective story set in the
future to something more in the style of Philip K Dick's degrading universes, or
more correctly a style of universe originated by Bester but and adopted by Dick a
decade or two later.
Amazingly I still remembered Reich's rhyme:
"tenser" said the tensor, "tenser" said the tensor
tension, apprehension and dissension have begun.
Loaded on the 24th September 2002.
Cover by Evan Gaffney, John Shlesinger/Swanstock and Phototone