More Than Human Essay - Critical Essays

Analysis

Theodore Sturgeon is recognized as part of the Golden Age of science fiction. Unlike other famous members of this select group, including Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, he was conspicuous for rejecting the scientific and technological trappings that marked much of the fiction from that era.

More than Human is Sturgeon’s most enduring novel. It was lauded upon its publication for the literary quality of its writing and awarded the 1954 International Fantasy Award. It is the second in a trio of parapsychological novels that Sturgeon wrote in the 1950’s; the others are The Dreaming Jewels (1950; also published as The Synthetic Man, 1957) and The Cosmic Rape (1958).

Despite its modern setting and psychoanalytic jargon, More than Human is part of one of the oldest literary genres, the creation myth. Sturgeon emphasizes this aspect by employing echoes of Genesis. Evelyn is the new Eve, Lone (“All Alone”) is Adam, and their meeting in the garden is a retelling of the biblical story in which the forces of evil try to prevent human union. The metaphor is extended into the New Testament in the book’s final section. Hip Barrows—whose full name is Hippocrates, the healer—must suffer spiritual death and be resurrected through joining with the gestalt (a reference to an expanded Trinity) before the entity can achieve eternal life and enter the realm of the immortals.

By linking the emergence of his superbeing to human creation myths, Sturgeon rejects the science-fiction tradition of seeing emergent and created life-forms as unnatural or deviant. Unlike the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Homo gestalt creates itself out of the human desire to establish connections of love and compassion. Although Gerry utilizes the entity in negative ways, readers understand that this is a result of the alienating effects of his own horrible childhood, not the alien nature of Homo gestalt itself. Antisocial, superhuman children are a staple of horror literature, as exemplified by Stephen King’s Carrie (1974), but Sturgeon ignores the seductions of horror and looks into the heart of the problem—their mirroring of what is evil within society itself. He reasons that all children must grow up, and any created being or race also goes through progressive stages of growth in order to realize its potential. Sturgeon’s novel is unusual in emphasizing what is best in humanity through its depiction of what is more than human.