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Topic: Alfred Bester

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Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Subject: Alfred Bester
Date Posted: 10/27/2008 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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The Philip K. Dick thread is interesting to me, and I thought we could use a little more author discussion down here in the genre basement.  I thought I'd start small with Alfred Bester.  He wrote very little...just a few novels and a handful of short stories...but I think he's one of the most talented SF writers.  He incorporated art, in the form of simple pctures and word designs to make the story come to life. 

His first novel, The Demolished Man is about an attemt to hide a murder in a society where the telepathic "Espers" can read thoughts.  The way he translated the mental interactions of the Espers onto the printed page is genius.

The second novel, The Stars My Destination (originally puslished as Tiger! Tiger!) is also brilliant.  He uses similar word-art to demonstate the confusion of the senses at points.  I also loved the idea of "Jaunting" which inspired one of my own (onging) writing projects.  Also, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the idea for the recent movie Jumper had some roots here.  Ths novel also features one of my favorite SF characters: the radioactive Saul Dagenham. 

I only read one other work by Bester, which was Golem 100, (Though I think it should be "Golem to the one-hundredth power" rather than simply "Golem one-hundred).  It was written much later than the other two.  It incorporated similar graphics, but the story wasn't as interesting to me, and seemed much more purposelessly violent and dismal than necessary.

Anyway, I'm interested in anyone else's thoughts.  I highly recommend the first two novels, but my copies are staying with me...sorry :p



Last Edited on: 10/27/08 11:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/31/2008 7:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I have this tendency to wish that there was more activity in the Science Fiction forum, while at the same time finding myself reluctant to add to the conversation.  I'm almost certain that it's just a phase, though it's not likely to change until after the "holiday season" (which lasts from October 31 to January 7th for me).  At any rate:

I've had to bring my book acquisitions to a snail's pace but I do still manage to grab a book every now and again.  I'm still trying to get together a nearly perfect science fiction collection in the hopes of shaping my own writing properly (I tend towards a genre I haven't quite identified yet).  To this end I've been checking out both recommendations here and lists like the many top 10, 50 and 100 lists out there on the net.  I've managed to gather quite a few of those, but it's always good to see one from the lists recommended, since I'm not about to just get every bok a top whatever list says I should (that's kind of the point of the lists, sometimes, and I'm no list-monkey!).  The Stars My Destination is one that happens to appear on most, if not all, of the lists and so, as I said, it's good to see the recommendation.  When I begin picking up more books I'll have to place it near the top of the list.  I'm guilty of some sort of eliticism whereby I remain safely within the realm of a handful of authors, and I've little notion of just how many quality authors have been out there over the years.  My goal for next year is to break with this "tradition" and begin reading authors who I've never encountered before.  I don't doubt that my horizons could beneft from a little broadening, and to be honest I believe I'm getting a little bored recognizing the same style from story to story. 

Soon I'm going to have to instigate a conversation with you about writing.  I've been doing it for years but I still have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, I just keep getting told that it's what I should do with myself.  Enjoying it to a disturbing degree is a strong motivator as well lol.  I'm probably not ready to dive into a discussion on the subject just yet, but this should be fair warning!

Subject: The Demolished Man
Date Posted: 10/31/2008 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Well, I read The Demolished Man a long time ago, and all remember is that I didn't think it was that great.     Maybe there's more to it than I realized, and I should take another look.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 11/1/08 9:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: The Stars My Destination
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 12/18/2007
Posts: 23
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I read this some time back and remember the story fondly, although I think it was written in the 1950's(?) which of course made it feel a bit dated. But it is a classic of imaginative ideas that were ahead of anything else anyone was writing at that time.

 

 

Subject: Bester
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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I read Tiger, Tiger and The Demolished Man back in the mid 70's as required reading for a college SF class.  I loved both books then, but recently reread The Stars My Destination because I decided to post it for trade and found all the magic was gone.  I agree, dated SF.  Been hesitant to pick out my other classic SF for rereading because they've become spoiled with age.

Jimijam said [I'm guilty of some sort of eliticism whereby I remain safely within the realm of a handful of authors, and I've little notion of just how many quality authors have been out there over the years.  My goal for next year is to break with this "tradition" and begin reading authors who I've never encountered before.  I don't doubt that my horizons could beneft from a little broadening, and to be honest I believe I'm getting a little bored recognizing the same style from story to story.}

Wow - I can so relate to this!  I've been trying to "expand" my reading habits and admit I use those "recommended" lists to that end.  Want something different?  Try Air by Geoff Ryan. 

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/1/2008 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I personally like 'dated' science fiction as much as more modern writing.  In case anyone was curious about the original copyright dates:

The Demolished Man - 1951

The Stars my Destination - 1956

Golem 100 - 1980