Theodore Sturgeon created very human characters with real, intensely observed emotions. More Than Human (1953) is his story of a Gestalt or group mind, not a chilly super-intellect but a painfully assembled band of talented misfits. Lone is telepathic but a literal idiot; Janie, an abused runaway girl, moves things with her mind; Bonnie and Beanie, very young black twins, can teleport; Baby has a computer-like brain and also Downs syndrome.
In part one, this crippled Gestalt is movingly brought together from the wreckage of members' past lives. Part two sees Lone replaced by the psychologically damaged Gerry, a murderer at age eight: he must, agonisingly, confront his reasons for killing the benefactor who cherished them as individuals but menaced the all-important group. (The twins can't eat with the white folks; Baby should go to a home...) Part three artfully echoes the previous sections' long healing of Lone's body and Gerry's mind, with the now-grown Janie defiantly rehabilitating an unfortunate victim of Gerry's misused talents. Although the Gestalt is now tremendously powerful, there's still one important factor missing.
"Does a superman have super-hunger, Gerry? Super-loneliness?"
Sturgeon wrote beautifully, from the famous opening--"The idiot lived in a black and grey world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear."--through moments of great poignancy, and unexpected images, like a starved man seeing marmalade as stained glass. More Than Human won the International Fantasy Award and holds up well today. This is recommended. --David Langford [via]