Analogue Men Critical Essays

Damon Knight


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

As a suspenseful and entertaining narrative, Analogue Men is of the highest quality. The reader is led to visualize a future America so schizophrenic that Bass is driven by its extremes to one narrow escape after another as he tries to adjust to life in a world gone mad. The novel’s dystopian presentation of economic exploitation via capitalism and technology logically extrapolates from economic and political trends, and the psychology of demonism is a realistic extension of class, race, nationality, and religious intolerance.

In its vein of prescient, cynical depiction of the degeneration of modern society into mind control and human homogenization, Analogue Men fits well with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s 1984 (1949). This powerfully satiric, dystopian theme is implicitly and problematically contradicted by 1950’s naïveté about both human psychology and covert political action, and even by a simplistic optimism. The leader of the Immunes quotes Friedrich Nietzsche and, apparently without ironic intent, is presented asking, “Can any society be sane and wise if its citizens are neither? If we spend less ingenuity on breeding men than on breeding garden vegetables, do we deserve anything but what we have always got?” The elitist and racist assumptions of this view are not questioned, and the Immunes’ murder of opponents is condoned based on this implicit “super race”...

(The entire section is 424 words.)