Review of To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon
I previously read and reviewed Theodore Sturgeon’s Some of Your Blood. I loved it. One of the most original stories I think I’ve ever read. Obviously, this has led me to want to read more of his works. Although that novella isn’t, his most explored genre is science fiction. To Marry Medusa falls firmly within the category and also displays his unbridled creativity.
To Marry Medusa, also titled The Cosmic Rape, plops the reader right into a story with no exposition. The book hops around to different perspectives and offers no context for any of them. It feels like entering the middle of a story and being left to piece together whatever was missed.
Although this may sound off putting it actually fits the narrative quite well. The two main players in this book are the Medusa, an alien life form with a collective consciousness that has traveled to Earth, and Gurlick, a rather below average human specimen.
Medusa is one physical part of their species but has a hive mind connected to every other physical body of their mind in the universe. They have seen similar consciousnesses in other galaxies and planets and cannot understand how Earth does not have this same feature. They consider it their mission to reunite the humans’ fractured consciousness and return them to one hive mind.
Gurlick is the vessel by which this will occur. As the first human Medusa met he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The alien plans to manipulate and train him to serve their purpose. Gurlick is just too simple minded to put up much of a fuss. Picture an undereducated hick who would rather drink domestic beer than do too much thinkin’, that’s Gurlick.
As the short book progresses it becomes clear what all of the other perspectives indicate. These seemingly random stories are just that. Random. But in the grand scheme of humanity they are connected by the constant humanness of us all.
Each of the chapters that represent a completely different human somewhere in the world could stand as short stories on their own. Some are, of course, more interesting than others but so is life.
The ending brought up, at least to me, a lot of philosophical questions about a world in which humans all could think alike and share their knowledge instantaneously. What would then be our goals? If we weren’t quarreling constantly about politics and religion or petty nonsense like whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza (it does), where would we be? Would we explore the universe like this Medusa? Would we feel the need to meddle with other life forms as well?
To Marry Medusa is a fascinating thought experiment and an original work of sci fi from an underrated author. I look forward to reading more from him if for no other reason than it’s definitely something I’ve never read before.
4/5 snakes of consciousness 🐍🐍🐍🐍
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