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More Than Human  By  cover art

More Than Human

By: Theodore Sturgeon
Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki,Harlan Ellison
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Publisher's summary

In this genre-bending novel, among the first to have launched sci fi into literature, a group of remarkable social outcasts band together for survival and discover that their combined powers render them superhuman.

There's Lone, the simpleton who can hear other people's thoughts; Janie, who moves things without touching them; and the teleporting twins, who can travel ten feet or ten miles. There's Baby, who invented an antigravity engine while still in the cradle, and Gerry, who has everything it takes to run the world except for a conscience. Separately, they are talented freaks.

Together, they may represent the next step in evolution - or the final chapter in the history of the human race. As they struggle to find whether they are meant to help humanity or destroy it, Sturgeon explores questions of power and morality, individuality and belonging.

©1981 The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"One of the best science fiction novels of the year." ( New York Times)
"A quantum leap in the development of science fiction as an art." ( Washington Post)
"A masterpiece of provocative storytelling." ( New York Herald Tribune)

What listeners say about More Than Human

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Must listen

What a fantastic book. Amazingly thought provoking, well read, and written by a writer with a real gift for language.

I am a big fan of Mr. Rudnicki, and although Mr. Ellison is a radical change after listening to Mr. Rudnicki I quickly came to love his narration as well.

If there is any drawback to this book it is that it starts a bit slowly and you find yourself asking where in the world is this thing going? However, it is absolutely worth waiting for.

I highly recommend this book, a fantastic story, an awesome concept, and a very satisfying ending. Enjoy!

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

better in audio

I read this book over 30 years ago and really could not understand it. Listening to it on audible really help me to understand the book. Unfortunately I still did not like it. It started out fairly interesting, seem like it was going to be a fairy tale. Then it got really deep and really all about talking. TS took so long to draw out his ideas that I was screaming at the radio. You pretty much know where he is going, but it takes him so long to say it. Matter of fact the character would just barely touch the idea and then take three steps back and you had to wait for him to build up to it again and he would skim and step back again. The first third gets four stars the middle and ending get two stars.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful words, wonderfully spoken

This book was a wonderfully read by Stefan Rudnicki and the fantastic storyline and beautiful ending was a truly pleasure to listen to, This book was written in the 1950s but stands tall today as a great novel. This coming from someone who isnt a Science Fiction fan. - a wonderful book.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Haunting Classic

Sturgeon's classic science fiction novel (really, a series of interwoven stories) is a lyrical, poignant look at "Homo Gestalt," the gifted "freaks" who together form a new organism, the next stage in human evolution. It's a fascinating and often genuinely wrenching thought experiment about prejudice, cruelty, love, empowerment, identity, and belonging. It would've been ideal if the entire work had been read by the same narrator, but I didn't find the shift to be too distracting. Sturgeon's work is deeply disturbing, with brutal and beautiful purpose, and it's very much worth listening to today.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bleshing with Superhuman Homo Gestalt

Theodore Sturgeon's More than Human is comprised of three parts, the first of which (my favorite) concerns several misfit outcast kids with powers of teleportation, telekinesis, and the like, and a "fabulous idiot." This part is lyrical, strange, humorous, and moving. And Stefan Rudnicki reads it perfectly, with his deep voice and thoughtful inflections. The second part, read with passion and panache by Harlan Ellison, depicts the first person narration of one of the outcast kids who is visiting a psychiatrist to find out who and what he is and why he has done what he has done. Ellison uses a squeaky boy's voice for Gerry, a calm adult voice for Dr. Stern, and appropriate voices for the other people who speak in this part. His reading of the last line, "What the hell is morality, anyway?" is terrifying. In the mostly fascinating third and last part, again read by Rudnicki, Hip Barrows attempts with great difficulty to remember his past far back enough to get over an imposed mental block.

It is interesting to compare Theodore Sturgeon's novel with Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End: Both were published during the Cold War in 1953 and feature the "next" stage of human evolution, but both depict very different ideas about that evolution and hence very different ideas about the nature of humanity and transcendence. More than Human is better written, more moving, more optimistic (almost too much so), and more human, but less sublime than Childhood's End.

Anyway, More than Human is a thought-provoking science fiction classic, well-read by Rudnicki and Ellison.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

More Than Human

Considered by many to be the best of Sturgeon's opus. Decades ago, when I first read this I imagined the voice of Harlan Ellison reading the second part "Baby is Three". And Stefan Rudnicki is outstanding as well. Thanks audible. Can you get Godbody by Theodore Sturgeon?

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful stuff

This is one of the grand old pieces from a certain high art period of the genre. Not to say the new stuff isn't fantastic in its way, but the language here is so simple and exquisite. The rough and rowdy kids remind of R.A. Lafferty's brats. The writing is akin to Harlan Ellison who wonderfully reads along with the barotone Stefan Rudnicki. The whole thing is a knockout.

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7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Maybe in its era it would have been better...

This was very difficult to finish reading... I see now that it was originally written as 3 short stories (sort of), and that explains how disjointed it is. But... it wasn't this disjointedness that bothered me as much as... well, the pseudo-psychobabble in it. The whole middle section is a scene in a psychologist's office, the point of which was only half to continue the storyline, the other half was to explore 1950's psychotherapy methods/ideas.

If these 1950's psychotherapy methods still held validity today, it might have been okay, but it was all psychojunk that has fallen to the wayside in the the current treatment methods of "drug 'em", don't hypnotize 'em.

Anyway, I suppose in its original era it would have been fresh and exciting, but we've had nearly 60 years of better sci-fi, better "human super-evolution" and better psychological exploration fiction. I'll mark it down as a classic sci-fi and be glad that I won't have to read it again.

Rudnicki's narration (parts 1 and 3) is good. Others have said that Ellison's narration "grows on you" but I prefer to like someone's narration from the start (I did not like his at all) than have to wait for it to grow on me.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A really fascinating book

I loved the way this book was written and the narration (by both readers) was excellent. Very thought provoking and well-paced, though I am guessing that some will find the pacing too slow and the book too long for the story it is telling. But the plot is only a very small part of what makes this book good - the writing style and character development, and the gradual way that facts are revealed to the reader, all added to my enjoyment. I'm back on Audible right now looking for my next Sturgeon book.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

maybe I read a different book than everyone else

I got this because of the good reviews but I really didn't like it. It was very strange and it tried to be deep but just got more confusing and I couldn't care about the characters less. pass this one by.

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5 people found this helpful

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  • Raphael
  • 09-29-21

A good read!

Pretty hard going, but worth persevering with. I did find it a bit difficult to listen to and put it down for a couple of days several times.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • happylemming
  • 08-01-21

The book that got me into sci fi 40 years ago

I found this as a battered paperback in the school library when I was 16, and have owned a copy ever since.
Still stands out as great writing, driven by the development of characters and a possible human evolution.
Only downside, be aware it uses historically accurste, but now unusable, terms for the black characters.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • cliffaw
  • 08-27-22

Classic 1950's Sci-Fi

i don't know why the writing of this period is so good but it always is. An extraordinary tale containing moments of sublime prose delivered expertly by the two narrators. The first two chapters might appear confusing but i urge you to persevere. This is 'a cut above'.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane Severson
  • 05-04-22

Don’t let the beginning put you off

This is an old book, written in an era when vocabulary, or labels were different to ours. I was a little annoyed at the labels used (idiot/half-wit, negro/colored, mongoloid mostly) but otherwise, the writing was balanced and literary and the people to whom those labels were given had special talents and were valued for their contributions.

This is just the type of SF that I love. More social sciences than physical sciences, an extrapolation of who and what humans are and could be, looking at our society with unveiled eyes and imagining a (better?) future than our current trajectory might suggest.

Despite special “talents” our POV characters are so real and events happen in the messy, stuttering way they do in real life. People die or are injured and the action falters.

I am sure I will read this again.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tomas O'CONNELL
  • 03-16-22

Remarkable writing. Ideas still current nearly 70 years later.

Wish I had read this as a kid. The writing is brilliant. The narrative construction is clever and interesting. You can see the foundation of so many other stories here, so much popular culture has had a boost from these characters and ideas. Any fan of decent science fiction or superhero stories should read this. And the writing is of such quality. Do yourself a favour and see where the story takes you.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna
  • 02-26-22

Beautiful in parts but difficult to understand.

There were times while listening to this story when my attention waned. It is a strange book and quite hard to make sense of. It is poetic and beautifully written in parts and the ending was surprising and touched me, especially considering the very troubled times we are living in when it's so easy to lose faith in the basic humanity of our leaders, and to some extent, ourselves for our greed, hypocrisy and stupidity and for our lack of care and compassion for our planet and our fellow beings.

Recommended if you don't mind a perplexing, multi-layered story that sometimes allows the attention to wander.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AnneB
  • 09-30-23

Brilliant alterative real world Sci-fi

I absolutely love this book. It has great real-as-life characters, is written from many points of view, builds the plot in pieces and comes to a fascinating end. proper literature.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K. Sewell
  • 08-27-23

Confusing

I started listening and found the story engaging in the beginning but I lost interested when it became too muddled.
I don’t want to knock it because it might well have been rewarding if I would have persevered

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Frances K Fox
  • 04-20-23

a story to concentrate on

i did enjoy this book,. The narrator was very good, bringing the characters to life.
it got a bit confusing at times, purposely so, I think so I did have to relisten some parts.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angus Jenkinson
  • 01-25-23

Remarkably wise and gripping

This seminal novel started an intelligent sci-fi genre based on life and society not machines. It’s a beautifully composed mystery of exceptional characters, drama, and visionary thinking.

I think some people have been troubled by the word “idiot”. Don’t be. It’s authentic for the time but also with two technical meanings. First that the character was not older than two in himself (“profound intellectual disability where the mental age is two years or less”) and secondly i think that he is reserved to himself, which belongs to the “I’d” root in Greek. Unique to himself.

All that relates to a special character who understands babies but cannot deal with adults.

Marvellous book. An all time great beautifully performed

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