A Touch of Sturgeon Critical Essays

Theodore Sturgeon


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The only science adventure story in this collection, “Killdozer,” requires little explanation. Typical of Theodore Sturgeon’s early fiction and made into a successful 1974 television motion picture, the story lacks the psychological, moral, and philosophical depth of Sturgeon’s later work as well as exhibiting an uncharacteristic artistic clumsiness. For example, to disguise the destruction wrought by the bulldozer and explain why knowledge of the malevolent entity never became widespread, Sturgeon resorts to the clichéd deus ex machina device of a fortuitously misdirected missile striking the island and destroying the evidence. “Killdozer” nevertheless is an exciting, drama-filled story.

It is in the other stories that artistic creativity and profundity really are displayed, showing that Sturgeon’s work merits Samuel R. Delany’s praise of it as the single most important body of science fiction by an American writer to date. Following two lesser-quality stories in the volume, “The Golden Helix” shows Sturgeon’s maturation as a writer. The story reflects Sturgeon’s unusual combination of great admiration for and knowledge of science as well as his deeply felt and powerfully conveyed humanism. The story contains scientific and mystical speculation, reminiscent of the work of Arthur C. Clarke, in its presentation of a golden, God-like force with the helix shape of DNA. Through that symbolism, Sturgeon suggests that God is...

(The entire section is 440 words.)