The Sword and Laser
bookclub read for September, it seemed as good a reason as any to push the book to the top of my to-read list. Not that I've ever really participated in the discussions there, or watched more than a couple of the video presentations that they used to make, but it's nice when somebody chooses a book for you – especially when it's a classic of the genre, and one you already have a copy of on your Kindle ready to go. That said, I still managed to forget to write a review until now...
Clearly this novel was the inspiration for [a:J. Michael Straczynski|2689|J. Michael Straczynski|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1305780248p2/2689.jpg]'s Psi Corps in Babylon 5
– Straczynski even named the leader of his Psi Corps Alfred Bester as a homage. In [b:The Demolished Man|76740|The Demolished Man|Alfred Bester|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1360171879s/76740.jpg|1247570]
we have the telepath's Guild. As with the Psi Corps telepaths are graded according to their ability. A stronger telepath can generally both scan a weaker telepath and more easily block them returning the attempt. But in a world with telepaths, where you can be probed without realising (or even be broadcasting your thoughts), how do you plan, and execute, a premeditated murder?
Ben Reich is just that man, he has a passionate hatred for his business rival, Craye D'Courtney, and intends to murder him. To do so, he must not only plan and carry out the murder, but come up with a complex system to avoid casual detection and probing by top-rated police telepaths. As far as it goes, the story and the writing are excellent and carry you along with the crime and the following investigation. However, the weakness is the motive. D'Courtney seems to almost invite his murder and Reich can never quite rationalise why he needs
to commit the murder. There is an explanation, which I won't spoil for readers, but I found it unsatisfactory.