The Synthetic Man - Theodore Sturgeon

I first found this book at a used book store a long time ago and really enjoyed it. About a year ago I found myself thinking about it and decided to check it out from the library, except that I couldn't remember the author and "Synthetic Man" never turned up any search results. I finally discovered that the book's original title was "The Dreaming Jewels" and that's the version the library had. Last weekend when I was visiting my brother he gave me the old copy we'd purchased many years ago and I read it on the plane on the way home.

Horton Bluett is a strange kid: he gets the urge to eat ants every so often, and he's very attached to an old jack-in-the-box he got from the orphanage. When he's finally taken enough abuse from his adoptive dad, he runs away and joins a carnival, falling in with the midgets, Solum the alligator man, and The Maneater, a spiteful ex-doctor who runs the carnival. But Horton isn't quite human: he's the product of strange jewel-like creatures who have the ability to copy living things. Sometimes the copies are imperfect and the result is a mutant, but The Maneater has been studying the jewels and searching for the perfect jewel-creation.

It's a well-written book with a fantastic plot, and the carny folks who take Horton in are wonderful characters. It was just as good a read this time around as it was when I was in junior high, though I think this time I understood some of the subtexts better.

One interesting aside: in the book Remarkable Reads, there are two books mentioned which were totally unfamiliar to me: The Worm Ouroborus and War with the Newts. The essays about each of these two books were enough to make me add them to my list (though I haven't gotten to them yet). When Horton joins the carny, one of the midgets reads books to him, and Sturgeon rattles off a few of the books Horton liked. Among them are both of these titles. It's always fun to find a reference to something that you didn't catch the first time through.

Fed to jonathan's brain | July 18, 2005 | Comments (0)


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