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Theodore Sturgeon

Theodore Sturgeon(1918-1985)
Theodore Sturgeon was a prolific science fiction writer whose first science fiction story, “Ether Breather” was published in 1939. Sturgeon’s best-known novel is More Than Human. Fans of classic Star Trek remember him as the writer of two episodes, “Shore Leave,” and “Amok Time.” Sturgeon published six novels and at least 16 short story collections in his lifetime.

The Dreaming Jewels: Unique, uncomfortable

The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon

Horty Bluett is only eight years old, but his short life has already been utterly miserable. One day, after suffering at the hands of his classmates and his adoptive parents, he runs off and joins the carnival. The only thing he carries is his sole possession — a jack-in-the-box doll named Junky. Junky has hard shiny eyes and Horty gets nervous and sick when Junky isn’t around.

At the carnival, Horty finally finds acceptance among some of society’s outcasts. For the first time in his life, he feels like he’s part of something — that he’s participating in life instead of watching it go by. As Horty gets older, he begins to realize that there’s something weird about the carnival. The man who runs it, who everyone calls Maneater, has some sort of genetic research going on and he may be a danger to Horty and to the world in general. And it all has something to do with Junky’s strange jewele... Read More

More Than Human: Introducing the “Homo Gestalt”

More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon

Theodore Sturgeon’s More Than Human, which won the International Fantasy Award in 1954 and was selected as one of David Pringle’s 100 Best SF novels, must have been quite an eye-opener back in 1953 in the Golden Age of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, when robots, rocket ships, future societies and aliens ruled the roost. For one thing, it hardly features any credible science at all, and in tone and atmosphere owes more to magic realism and adult fantasy. In fact, the writing reminds me most of Ray Bradbury, full of poetry and powerful images. Try readi... Read More

To Marry Medusa: A beautiful but frightening speculation

To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon

Note: Here is Sandy's review of the related The Cosmic Rape.

Dan Gurlick is a pathetic human being, which is undoubtedly why nobody likes him. He has no identifiable positive personality traits, his motivations and desires are base, and he lacks the skills and knowledge to appropriately acquire the things he wants. Life suddenly changes for Gurlick when he accidentally ingests the spore of an alien hivemind named Medusa. Medusa has been all over the universe enfolding the collective minds of the species it finds. When Medusa becomes conscious on Earth, in Gurlick’s mind, it’s surprised to find that human brains are not connected. Perhaps humans have sensed Medusa’s plan and have protected themselves by disorganizing. The hivemind plans to use Gurlick’s limited brain to figure out how to put hu... Read More

The Cosmic Rape: “Bastits!”

The Cosmic Rape by Theodore Sturgeon

In Theodore Sturgeon’s International Fantasy Award-winning novel of 1953, More Than Human, six extraordinary young people with various extrasensory mental abilities blend their powers together to create what the author called a “gestalt consciousness.” And in his next novel, the Staten Island-born Sturgeon amplified on this idea of shared consciousness, but upped the ante quite a bit; instead of a mere half dozen souls forming one hive brain, Sturgeon posited the notion of a mind containing the thoughts and experiences of the life-forms of 2½ galaxies! The book was The Cosmic Rape, which followed More Than Human by five years. This ... Read More

Venus Plus X: The first hermaphroditic science fiction novel

Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon

Charlie Johns has woken up in a strange place called Ledom (that’s “model” spelled backwards) in what appears to be a future where human beings have evolved. These future humans have some really amazing technology, there’s no night, they don’t require sleep, they’ve cured many diseases, and there’s no pollution, poverty, or war.

But what’s most significant is that they’ve abolished gender — humans are now hermaphrodites. Charlie sees men who are pregnant, taking care of babies, and wearing pink bikini underwear. As he lives among these people who have no differentiated gender roles, he considers where he came from and realizes how the little biological detail of sex has had such a powerful affect on human history, society and culture.

If one purpose of science fiction is to speculate about possible futures by anticipating how advances in technology and culture might affect t... Read More

Some of Your Blood: A very sad book

Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon

In the 1978 horror movie Martin, writer/director George A. Romero presented us with a young man who enjoys killing people and drinking their blood, but who may or may not be a so-called "vampire"; the film is wonderfully ambiguous all the way down the line on that score. Seventeen years before Martin skulked through the dreary suburbs of Pittsburgh, however, another unconventional vampire was given to the world, in the pages of Theodore Sturgeon's Some of Your Blood. (Actually, an apology may be in order right now, as that last is a bit of a spoiler; the sanguinary habits of the central character of Sturgeon's novel are only revealed toward the story's conclusion. However, seeing that the back cover of the book's current incarnation, the one from Millipede Press, gives away even more spoiler details than this, perhaps I may be excused here.)

Theodore Sturgeon, of course, is a writer... Read More

Magazine Monday: Asimov’s, September 2011

The September 2011 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction is a mixed bag, with a couple of amazing stories and a few not so amazing. One of the former is “The Observation Post,” by Allen M. Steele. A recurring motif in science fiction is visitors from the future watching hot points in history, and for this story that hot point is the Cuban Missile Crisis. The story begins with a voyage in a blimp that seems fictional, like something out of a steampunk story, until one realizes that the Navy really did use a few blimps until November 1962, one month after this story takes place. Placed up against this reality that feels fictional, Steele puts something fictional that feels real: observers watching how events play out in alternative universes, and pinpointing precisely what action causes what reaction.

“The Odor of Sanctity,” by Ian Creasey Read More

SHORTS: Dicken, Martin, Sturgeon, Simak, Garcia-Rosas, Vonnegut

Here are a few short stories we've recently read and listened to that we wanted you to know about. This week's selection includes some excellent classic tales.

“The Uncarved Heart” by Evan Dicken (Nov. 2016, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue, 0.99£ UK magazine issue)
It’s hard to tell what someone is really made of, at least until you crack them open. Some have hearts fragile as spun glass, quick to break and impossible to p... Read More

SHORTS: The Retro Hugo-nominated novellas of 1944

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. In today's column we review the 2020 Retro Hugo nominees in the novella category, other than The Jewel of Bas, which we've previously reviewed here as part of The Best of Leigh Brackett. Stay tuned for tomorrow's column, where we turn our attention to the Retro Hugo novelettes and short stories.

A God Named Kroo by Henry Kuttner (1944, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, free online at Internet Archive). 2020 Retro Hugo award nominee (novella).

In remote Tibet, a minor deity named Kroo is slowly dying d... Read More

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century horror and fantasy literature. During its 32-year run, from 1923-1954, and in its 279 issues, Weird Tales catered to a select readership that could not help but be impressed by early efforts from the likes of Robert E. Howard, Read More

Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies

Weird Tales: The Magazine that Never Dies edited by Marvin Kaye

Marvin Kaye's Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies anthology from 1988 takes a slightly different tack than its earlier sister volume, Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors. Whereas the editors of that earlier collection chose to select one story from each year of the magazine's celebrated 32-year run (1923-1954), Kaye has decided here to not just limit himself to the periodical's classic era of 279 issues, but to also include tales from each of the four latter-day incarnations of "The Unique Magazine" (from 1973-87). The result is 45 pieces of generally superb speculative fantasy and horror, including six "Weird Tales Reprints" by such luminaries as Dickens, Poe, Flaubert and Stoker, as well as Otis Adelbert Kline's "Why Weird Tales?," an article that clearly delineated the magazine's goals and intentions in its first anniversary issue, the one dated May/June/July... Read More

Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all. But Weird Tales, of course, was far from being the only pulp periodical on the newsstands back when, as amply demonstrated in the appropriately titled, 500-page anthology Rivals of Weird Tales. In this wonderfully entertaining, generous collection, editors Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz and Martin H. Greenberg (who had put... Read More

Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn't think was good, and it's a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft's overwrought prose doesn't do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it's attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft's stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting, which isn't scary or interesting. Everything else was good, occasionally even amazing.

Again like the fantasy volume, it more or less alternates between recent stories by moder... Read More