The Deceivers

by Alfred Bester
Reviewed date: 2005 May 28
Rating: 2
304 pages
cover art

Rogue Winter is the product of a genetic experiment. He has an uncanny sense of patterns. He sees and understands patterns that no other human being can fathom. Pairing his preternatural insight with his Maori fighting prowess, and Rogue Winter is no less than superhuman.

The Deceivers is a superhero comic book in novel form. The plot is simplistic even for a comic book: Winter's lover is kidnapped and he races across the solar system to save her. Along the way he battles the Mafia, the Japan-Chinese mob (aka the Jinks), and saves the solar system from destruction (I think.)

It's a pretty bad book. Bester makes liberal use of pseudoscience: "Meta" crystals mined on Titan supply the solar system with safe, unlimited power. Titanian (from Titania, not from Titan) shapeshifters impersonate humans. Rogue Winter's knack for sensing patterns is not only unrealistic, but the universe seems to create patterns just for him in order to lead him to the right conclusions. This kind of comic book story might not be out of place in 1930s science fiction, but The Deceivers came out in 1981.

Alfred Bester wrote two excellent novels: The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man. The Deceivers proves that he wrote only two excellent novels. There is no basis on which to recommend this book.

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