Tuesday, July 29, 2008

28. To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon

To Marry Medusa pictureThe only other Theodore Sturgeon book I read, The Dreaming Jewels, I really enjoyed, so I keep an eye out for his other work. There is a lot out there, but it seems the bulk of his work was short stories and novellas. It's hard to find actual novels by him, but To Marry Medusa was one (though it's almost a novella).

It's the story of a loser alcoholic whose mind gets invaded by an alien collective entity. This isn't just a single species either, but a conglomerate of civilizations all of which have been absorbed by single initiating species. Their home world was destroyed and so they travelled through space looking for a new host. However, they exist in a single, collective form and can't conceive of separation, so when they take over the drunk's mind, they have a hard time figuring out how humans work.

As you read the above narrative, chapters are interspersed with a whole bunch of different stories of people all over the planet: a little girl who gets separated from her family, an emotionally disturbed vandal, a prim old maid, etc. None have anything directly to do with the main alien story, at least at first.

For the first half, I felt a bit removed, especially with all the different, unconnected storylines. But Sturgeon has a plan and when it all comes together, it's actually quite cool. This is a classic science fiction book in that it seems to have come from a single idea or question: what would happen if all of humanity were to be suddenly, psychically collectivized? The answer, in the context of an attempted alien takeover, that Sturgeon provides is entertaining and insightful. Worth the read.

2 comments:

Buzby said...

This book sounds very cool. Is it like a 'borg' collective entity taking over one's brain?

Olman Feelyus said...

Yeah, it is kind of like that, except that they aren't all homogenous. It's hard to explain, because they are non-corporeal. But if you need some information, somebody in the collective has the information and it is immediately shared.