I am so, so behind in my reviews, having read The Demolished Man easily over a month ago, so I’m raiding my increasingly decrepit memory bank for this review. I used to read a lot of science fiction but have tended more towards the historical/fantasy over the past few years. When the sci-fi itch returned I thought I’d head for the man who gave me one of my favourite reads in years…The Demolished Man is good, but doesn’t stand anywhere near equal with The Stars My Destination.
In a future where telepathy is common, businesses employ the best they can to screen their employees and engage in a little light corporate espionage. Telepathy is also used to prevent crimes, with murder now unheard of due to the high likelihood of being caught the moment you conceive of any kind of plan. But Ben Reich, owner of the huge Monarch corporation, thinks he has found a way around it.
Plagued by nightmares of a Man With No Face, which none of the peepers (telepaths) in his employ can get to the bottom of, he’s also just proposed a merger with his main rivals, the D’Courtneys, only to have apparently been rejected. And so, sounding at every moment like Jonah Jameson in the middle of a temper tantrum, Reich comes up with a plan that should not only destroy his rival, but see him get away with murder.
There were some great ideas in this book, which is also a pretty decent police procedural, with an interesting approach to formatting and an entertaining plan to evade capture. The characters are mostly interesting – except for the women who are definitely fictional figures of their time (damsels in distress, sexpots, and spinsters), but it definitely suffered from the stratospheric expectations I had for it thanks to The Stars My Destination.