Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-viii

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

The staffs of several libraries and archives provided me with invaluable assistance as I conducted my research, and I am grateful for the help of the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University; the Lilly Library at Indiana University, Bloomington; the University of Pennsylvania Archives; the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; and Booth Library at Eastern Illinois University. Institutional support for this project included a grant from...

read more

Introduction. Alfred Bester: The Insider’s Outsider

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-16

Like Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, Alfred Morton Bester (December 18, 1913–September 30, 1987) began his career in science fiction as a pulp fictioneer and finished it as a Grand Master, but he followed a far more curious path to the field’s highest honor than either of his big-name contemporaries. He focused on SF only intermittently during his nearly fifty years as a professional writer and, at times, maintained few ties with the field. He started his career in SF and finished it there as well, but in between, he kept to a pattern of voyage and return, putting SF aside...

read more

Chapter 1. Beginnings: Early Life and First Stories

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-30

Bester’s story as an outsider writer, perhaps not surprisingly, began with the pedigree of an insider. In fact, he witnessed the birth of genre SF firsthand. Although only twelve years old at the time, he was “hungry for ideas” and searching for imaginative outlets suited to his curious turn of mind but struggling hard to find them. He even remembered borrowing Andrew Lang’s Blue and Red fairy books from the library and sneaking them home under his coat, feeling self-conscious about reading...

read more

Chapter 2. Of Things to Come: The Astounding and Unknown Stories

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-67

To understand the breakthrough that “The Probable Man” represented, it is first necessary to consider the importance of a non-genre piece that Bester published at roughly the same time, a detective story titled “The McGrabb Bag” (1941). In it, Bester would take the emphasis on contextual clues in con-ventional mystery-and-detection stories and ratchet it up a notch through the introduction of a split viewpoint. The story features a father-and-son police detective team who notice and comment...

read more

Chapter 3. Comics, Radio, and the Return to SF

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 68-85

“Hell Is Forever” marked Bester’s last publication in the SF field for eight years, but the next part of his career, during which he switched his focus to comics and progressively branched out from there into radio and television, deserves more than the passing attention it usually receives. Frederik Pohl, for instance, has more than once glossed over this portion of Bester’s career by characterizing him as a “money writer.” By Pohl’s account, when comics boomed, Bester followed the money trail there and then graduated to radio and television, where the pay was even...

read more

Chapter 4. The Eureka Years

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 86-134

Bester first told Boucher and McComas of his intention to write an SF novel in early May 1950, and afterward, aside from a few telegrams concerning the publication of “Of Time and Third Avenue,” his correspondence with them more or less ceased until the fall of 1951, when he again mentioned the novel and asked them for further advice concerning hardcover publication. During this period, he planned and drafted The Demolished Man, mostly in consultation with Horace L. Gold, an old acquaintance who was in the process of launching another new SF magazine, Galaxy Science Fiction. Although Bester...

read more

Chapter 5. Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 135-163

The change of outlook that characterized the next period of Bester’s career was not a sea change. Bester continued to show an interest in the workings of the mind and employ language play in his fiction, and he did not leave satire behind. However, he seemed less intent on dismissing pulp clichés through parody than on transforming aspects of pulp aesthetics in earnest. His next story, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954), would not poke fun at but revamp the mad-robot story, working around the rational view of technology encompassed in Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics to...

read more

Chapter 6. Hiatus and Search for a New Style

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 164-178

The period that followed “The Pi Man” and extended until Bester’s full-fledged return to SF in 1971 saw his fiction output dwindle and then come to a halt entirely. Although commentators often present Bester as simply shifting his attention to journalistic endeavors after he became a regular columnist for Holiday in 1956, he in fact wrote another contemporary novel around 1959 and every major publisher rejected it. Charles Platt, who some thirty-odd years later shepherded the novel to publication under the title Tender Loving Rage (1991), sensed that it represented...

read more

Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 179-182

In the mid-sixties, a young Alexei Panshin offered up a dissenting view of Bester’s fiction. He dismissed it as a superficial mixture of thirties pulp SF and slick “Manhattan” style, and he criticized Bester for knowing too little about the development of “modern SF.” According to Panshin, when Bester returned to SF in the fifties, he “had been away a long time, and he didn’t know how the pros were working out their problems...so he made up his own solutions.”1 Although Panshin perhaps underestimated Bester’s awareness of trends in the field and certainly offered this comment by...

An Alfred Bester Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 183-186

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 187-196

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 197-202

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 203-208

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 209-212