Monday, December 15, 2003

Virtual Unrealities: The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester, by Alfred Bester, with an Introduction by Robert Silverberg

If I was to pick my own holy trinity of Golden Age science fiction writers, they would be Theodore Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith, and Alfred Bester. Bester's novels The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination are among the best ever published in the genre. Seventeen pieces of Bester's short fiction are collected here, in a loose chronological order which shows his development from rather conventional, if imaginative, to confidently weird, poetic and original. Bester's science isn't always terribly plausible, because he's more concerned with writing believable people, and although his psychoanalytical approach to characterization is certainly a product of his time (as is the nuclear anxiety which runs through several of these stories), he transcends that with a grasp of humanity's universal preoccupations and a wry and sometimes gonzo sense of humor. Favorite stories here include "Time is the Traitor," "The Pi Man," "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" and "Galatea Galante."


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