Alfred Bester - the great master of fantasy
Alfred Bester - the great master of fantasy

Alfred Bester was a successful television and radio writer, comic book editor and writer. But despite his accomplishments in all these fields, he is remembered by many as a science fiction writer.

Who is Bester?

Alfred was one of the few authors who started writing in the science fiction genre. Shortly before his death, the Science Fiction Writers' Association of America honored Bester with the honorary title of "Grand Master". Alfred Bester was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

science fiction alfred bester

The writer was born in New York on 12/18/1913 in the family of a shoe store owner. His father James's parents were immigrants from Austria. Bella's mother was born in Russia, and came to America in her youth. The family adhered to traditional Judaism. Later, the mother converted to the Catholic faith. Alfred, balancing between two religions, grew up an atheist.

Alfred Bester studied at the University of Pennsylvania. His speci alty was psychology. He studied "excellent", paid attention to the study of the humanities. Being an excellent athlete, Alfred played on the football team and, in his words, was the most successful fencer.After university, he entered Columbia Law School, but left after a year.

In a New York company, he found a job as a clerk and, with his characteristic energy, undertook to arrange his personal life. In 1936 he married the successful actress Rollie Gulko, with whom he lived until his death on September 30, 1987. Bester lived permanently in New York. Lived in Europe for a little over a year in the mid-50s, but then he and Rolly moved to Pennsylvania.

How did his career start?

Bester took his first creations to Wonder Stories magazine. In three years of collaboration with science fiction publications, Alfred wrote fourteen stories. The career of the young author was on the rise.

In the early 1940s, M. Weisinger, a magazine editor, was invited to work for the popular National Periodicals company, where comic book superheroes Superman and Batman settled. Their adventures were suggested to Weisinger. He not only accepted the offer, but also brought in a group of his own authors, including Alfred Bester.

alfred bester

The frantic pace of the comic book industry has taken over Bester. Here, unlike periodical literature, it was necessary to come up with new plots, dialogues, scenarios every day. But this job paid much better.

Of course, it's hard to appreciate Bester's personal contribution to the "superhero cycles". Since the work on comics was a team work, they were written by several authors, and sometimes several dozen series were in the work. Comics provided work not only for Alfred, but also for him.spouse. She voiced major roles in the radio version of Superman.

Rolly told Alfred that the managers were looking for a script writer for detective radio shows and were offering solid money for the job. The company hosted several detective shows, so they had to work at a frantic pace. But Bester had that experience behind him, thanks to the comics. In addition, a group of screenwriters was led by a professional in his field, W alter Gibson.

In 1948, another project appeared for Bester - artistic television productions. Televisions were still exotic at that time, therefore, most often they recall his later work - the series "Tom Corbett", which was released on screens for several years on various channels. In 1950, Bester returns to the science fiction magazine.

alfred bester the man without a face

Back to basics

Alfred Bester marked his return to the genre with the fantasy story "Oddy and Eid". In 1959, it was published in the August issue of Astounding magazine, the undisputed leader in the world of science fiction. But Campbell's new editorial policy has caused many great authors to "escape" from the magazine.

This led to the creation of new publications, and Campbell was given two rather serious challenges at once by F&SF and Galaxy Science Fiction. Alfred Bester has new publishing platforms.

Working on radio and television took a lot of time, so Alfred wrote little. During this time, he improved his skills. His stories acquired a brilliant sense of rhythm, easeand fiery energy and would do honor to any publication of the fantastic genre.

F&SF publishes two of Bester's stories, Choice and About Time and Third Avenue. In 1952, Galaxy magazine begins partial publication of a novel written by Alfred Bester, The Man Without a Face.

bester alfred compilation

The way to the top

The release of Bester's first novels "The Man Without a Face" and "Tiger! Tiger!" comparable to the effect of an exploding bomb. Still would. A psychologist by training, Alfred rewarded his characters with the quintessence of certain character traits.

Deep psychological stories that raise eternal moral principles and issues - freedom, right, truth, forgiveness, responsibility. Not a single superfluous word - everything is perfected and maximally subordinated to the idea. In every sentence, tension is like a tightly compressed spring. Books seem to have an energy that attracts, and it is simply impossible to stop reading.

“The Man Without a Face” opens up to the reader a world where progress in evolution has taken place, which has divided humanity into esper telepaths and non-telepaths. It would seem that the world is on the verge of destruction and chaos. But espers only use their abilities for the benefit of society.

At the center of events is the owner of the largest corporation, who is tormented by nightmares every night, where he is pursued by a man without a face. He considers his competitor to be the culprit of painful dreams and decides to kill. But how can this be done? After all, such thoughts cannot go unnoticed by telepaths.

Roman “Tiger! Tiger!" represents another stage of evolution- the ability to teleport, jantation (moving with the power of thought). Those who are deprived of these abilities are considered almost the dregs of society. A spaceship with a "regular" crew crashes. The only surviving mechanic on the ship has been living among the wreckage for six months and sending distress signals into space. But they are ignored.

The survivor finds a goal - to survive and take revenge on those who threw him to death. Not possessing extraordinary abilities, but having only strength in reserve, he understands that only well-planned actions will help him achieve what he wants.

Intricate plots, a mixture of detective and science fiction, intrigue, lively dialogues, irony keep the reader in suspense from the first to the last line of the novel. Given that the books were written in the 50s of the last century, you understand that the title of "Great Master" was deservedly received by the wonderful science fiction writer Alfred Bester.

Author's books

For forty years of creative activity Alfred published less than ten novels. But each Bester book became an event. Almost at the same time as the first two books, he writes the novel "Who is he?".

bester tiger tiger

In the late 1950s, Alfred was invited to the post of editor of the reputable Holiday magazine. Bester accepts their offer and works at the publishing house until the magazine closes. During this period, he publishes only a publicistic book "The Life and Death of a Companion" and stories.

And fans of science fiction expect a new novel in the meantime. But, having disappeared for many years, Bester does not seem to notice their impatience.Alfred, whose collection of short stories sparks the interest of readers, is taking a break from his career as a science fiction writer.

After a huge hiatus of almost twenty years, The Devil's Interface comes out in 1975. Five years later, the novels "Golem 100" and "Deceivers" come out from under his pen one after another. In 1991 and 1998, the books "Gentle Violence of Passion" and "Psychoshack" were published.

Alfred Bester has written over sixty short stories, novellas and essays that have been published in various publications. The author's works were published in several collections. Despite the fact that his works were written more than fifty years ago, they are still in great demand today. They are also included in the list of the best science fiction novels, confirming the honorary title of their creator.

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