The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

On the surface, The Demolished Man is a slick, futuristic detective novel, but the book is much more complex than such a surface description implies. Ben Reich, a wealthy and powerful man, has planned a merger with the D’Courtney Cartel. When that merger is apparently thwarted by Craye D’Courtney, Reich plans to murder his rival. The difficulty confronting Reich is that in the year 2301, murder has been virtually eliminated because of the emergence of Espers, people gifted with and trained in the use of extrasensory perception. Espers are classified according to their levels of ability; an Esper 1 is the most gifted and best-trained of the Esper Guild members. Because Espers can “peep” accused suspects, or look into their thoughts, hiding guilt from them is virtually impossible. The Esper Guild, however, maintains strict rules for its members. Even though Lincoln Powell, a police prefect and an Esper 1, determines very early that Reich is guilty of D’Courtney’s murder, he is unable to make use of the knowledge without supporting evidence. He must present enough evidence to the police computer, “Old Man Mose,” to ensure a conviction; otherwise, Reich will go free.

Reich has powerful means of thwarting the police investigation. He can hire the best Espers to help him, he can afford massive bribes and incentives, and he has friends in high places in the police department. Powell, however, is not without resources of his own. He is a...

(The entire section is 427 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Bester's primary talent is as a storyteller, and in The Demolished Man he approaches his tale from a different perspective than that...

(The entire section is 234 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The dual nature of mankind is discussed throughout literary history, most notably in the Bible, and the motivation of revenge can be traced...

(The entire section is 277 words.)