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Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester

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Contents: · 5,271,009 · nv F&SF Mar ’54 · Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle · ss Status, 1968 · Fondly Fahrenheit · nv F&SF Aug ’54 · Comment on “Fondly Fahrenheit” · ar · The Four-Hour Fugue · ss Analog Jun ’74 · The Men Who Murdered Mohammed · ss F&SF Oct ’58 · Disappearing Act · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #2, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953 · Hell Is Forever · na Contents: · 5,271,009 · nv F&SF Mar ’54 · Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle · ss Status, 1968 · Fondly Fahrenheit · nv F&SF Aug ’54 · Comment on “Fondly Fahrenheit” · ar · The Four-Hour Fugue · ss Analog Jun ’74 · The Men Who Murdered Mohammed · ss F&SF Oct ’58 · Disappearing Act · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #2, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953 · Hell Is Forever · na Unknown Aug ’42 · Adam and No Eve · ss Astounding Sep ’41 · Time Is the Traitor · nv F&SF Sep ’53 · Oddy and Id [“The Devil’s Invention”] · ss Astounding Aug ’50 · Hobson’s Choice · ss F&SF Aug ’52 · Star Light, Star Bright · ss F&SF Jul ’53 · They Don’t Make Life Like They Used To · nv F&SF Oct ’63 · Of Time and Third Avenue · ss F&SF Oct ’51 · Isaac Asimov · iv Publishers Weekly Apr 17 ’72 · The Pi Man · ss Star Light, Star Bright, Berkley/Putnam, 1976; revised from F&SF Oct ’59. · Something Up There Likes Me · nv Astounding, ed. Harry Harrison, Random, 1973 · My Affair with Science Fiction · ar Nova 4, ed. Harry Harrison, Walker, 1974


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Contents: · 5,271,009 · nv F&SF Mar ’54 · Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle · ss Status, 1968 · Fondly Fahrenheit · nv F&SF Aug ’54 · Comment on “Fondly Fahrenheit” · ar · The Four-Hour Fugue · ss Analog Jun ’74 · The Men Who Murdered Mohammed · ss F&SF Oct ’58 · Disappearing Act · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #2, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953 · Hell Is Forever · na Contents: · 5,271,009 · nv F&SF Mar ’54 · Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle · ss Status, 1968 · Fondly Fahrenheit · nv F&SF Aug ’54 · Comment on “Fondly Fahrenheit” · ar · The Four-Hour Fugue · ss Analog Jun ’74 · The Men Who Murdered Mohammed · ss F&SF Oct ’58 · Disappearing Act · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #2, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953 · Hell Is Forever · na Unknown Aug ’42 · Adam and No Eve · ss Astounding Sep ’41 · Time Is the Traitor · nv F&SF Sep ’53 · Oddy and Id [“The Devil’s Invention”] · ss Astounding Aug ’50 · Hobson’s Choice · ss F&SF Aug ’52 · Star Light, Star Bright · ss F&SF Jul ’53 · They Don’t Make Life Like They Used To · nv F&SF Oct ’63 · Of Time and Third Avenue · ss F&SF Oct ’51 · Isaac Asimov · iv Publishers Weekly Apr 17 ’72 · The Pi Man · ss Star Light, Star Bright, Berkley/Putnam, 1976; revised from F&SF Oct ’59. · Something Up There Likes Me · nv Astounding, ed. Harry Harrison, Random, 1973 · My Affair with Science Fiction · ar Nova 4, ed. Harry Harrison, Walker, 1974

30 review for Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dierregi

    I usually don't read short stories, but I just finished re-reading "The stars, my destination" and decided that another Bester book was needed. This is a most uneven selection of stories, some very short (and to me pretty pointless, such as "Manuscript found in a champagne bottle") others a bit more developped, but still puzzling. I guess what makes it for such an unsettling reading is that Bester was not just a Sci-Fi writer. He wrote comic strips, TV scripts, collaborated with travel magazines I usually don't read short stories, but I just finished re-reading "The stars, my destination" and decided that another Bester book was needed. This is a most uneven selection of stories, some very short (and to me pretty pointless, such as "Manuscript found in a champagne bottle") others a bit more developped, but still puzzling. I guess what makes it for such an unsettling reading is that Bester was not just a Sci-Fi writer. He wrote comic strips, TV scripts, collaborated with travel magazines, etc... I liked "The Four-Hour Fugue", but it is a story that could take place in a contemporary setting, with only minor twists (in fact, I think the main plot twist was used more than once in TV serials). "Disappearing Act" and "5,271,009" introduce ideas that were fully developped in "The stars, my destinaton", while "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" develops an original idea about time travel and it is also quite funny. So far, the weirdest tale is "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To". An unusual take of the last people left on heart, with a guy and a girl who act crazily, perhaps brain-damaged by the radiations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    This is a collection of some very good short stories, from 1941 through 1974. At least one of these has been included in other best of collections; I know I’ve read “Fondly Fahrenheit” before. He likes embedding what he calls tricks into his stories; he started out as a mystery writer, and read voraciously collecting tricks that would make for good mystery clues, such as the years there was a moratorium on certain coins, or mysterious events, such as the disappearance of SYNCOM-1. This sort of thi This is a collection of some very good short stories, from 1941 through 1974. At least one of these has been included in other best of collections; I know I’ve read “Fondly Fahrenheit” before. He likes embedding what he calls tricks into his stories; he started out as a mystery writer, and read voraciously collecting tricks that would make for good mystery clues, such as the years there was a moratorium on certain coins, or mysterious events, such as the disappearance of SYNCOM-1. This sort of thing often doesn’t age well, and it helps to read these stories with an understanding of when they were written. And if you guess the trick, the story becomes very different than intended (such as the trick at the end of “Time is the Traitor”), as the story becomes, why is no one addressing this obvious flaw in their plan? In that case, the flaw is more obvious because it has been used many times since in other stories; it may well have been original in 1953. A lot of his introductions don’t seem to match the story they’re paired with; but he covers that by saying he rarely remembers how or why he wrote something decades later. Which makes sense, though it does turn the introductions into odd attempts at fiction themselves. They are also filled with reminiscences on people like John Campbell and Isaac Asimov. All are interesting, though of course not necessarily reliable given his other caveats. And he doesn’t just write about science fiction; he also wrote comic books, radio scripts, and television scripts; and interviewed for Holiday magazine. One of the weird things is John Campbell’s objection to Bester using Freud heavily in his writing. Bester does, and expands on his use of Freudian theory in his essays. Campbell objected to this, telling Bester that Freud was a complete fraud and would soon be relegated to the proverbial dustbin of history. Campbell was absolutely right. But for the completely wrong reason. Campbell, writes Bester, thought Dianetics would soon solve all psychological problems in the world and take over from Freudian analysis. I enjoyed these stories a lot more than The Stars My Destination; they were less reliant on old science fiction tropes and characters; I also tend to be more forgiving in short stories than in novel-length stories. But writing isn’t logical and sensible. It’s an act of insane violence committed against yourself and the rest of the world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    The Demolished Man enthralled me so greatly that I obsessively grabbed every copy of Bester that came past. Due to a lack of organization this eventually resulted in having two copies of Golem100, one of The Computer Connection, and two of this. All unread. I think I got partway through The Computer Connection before realizing that something was wrong. And Golem100--one copy of it, anyways--was similar. With this collection I'm forced to confront the thought that maybe Alfred Bester isn't for me. The Demolished Man enthralled me so greatly that I obsessively grabbed every copy of Bester that came past. Due to a lack of organization this eventually resulted in having two copies of Golem100, one of The Computer Connection, and two of this. All unread. I think I got partway through The Computer Connection before realizing that something was wrong. And Golem100--one copy of it, anyways--was similar. With this collection I'm forced to confront the thought that maybe Alfred Bester isn't for me. While the stories are cleverly or even elegantly crafted, they really aren't about anything particularly compelling. And, unfortunately, the author introduces his stories, which results in a mishmash of background information, here in a jokey, informal style that I found rather grating. Many of these stories seem focused on the internal state of the characters, either explicitly, as with "Fondly Fahrenheit" (a fever-dream where the story perspective is in perpetual nightmarish flux, as the unreliable narrator projects his identity and insanity) or "The Pi Man" (the inside of a truly weird mind), or implicitly, as with "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To". "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" was a standout for me. It's a "last people on Earth" story with the twist of the characters as Adam and Eve stand-ins, living in a strange detached state of grace. Despite being strangers, they think little of nudity. Despite being the last man and woman on Earth, the romantic / procreational / sexual aspect never seems to occur to either one. Despite the complete and total breakdown of society, they leave little IOUs in the stores they loot and worry about the mounting cost. There's something deeply not-right about both of them which is never adequately explained, followed by an event that changes everything, also not explained. It's a bewildering tale that leaves only about thirty percent of all information in the hands of the reader. Yet, I found it mesmerizing, more from what is not said than what is.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Bester's SF novels are some of my favorites, so a venture into his shorter stories was overdue. Like his novels, these are terrific fun. Fantastic in ideas and execution, somewhere between his comic book and screenwriting past and his magazine writing future. I gather that there are numerous compilations of his short SF floating around. This one is something of an omnibus that includes both the "The Light Fantastic" and "Star Light, Star Bright" collections, and about as thorough as one can find Bester's SF novels are some of my favorites, so a venture into his shorter stories was overdue. Like his novels, these are terrific fun. Fantastic in ideas and execution, somewhere between his comic book and screenwriting past and his magazine writing future. I gather that there are numerous compilations of his short SF floating around. This one is something of an omnibus that includes both the "The Light Fantastic" and "Star Light, Star Bright" collections, and about as thorough as one can find in a single volume. I'd recommend Bester's two famous SF novels first, then this one as a bonus, but probably any compilation you can find will do. It includes intros by the author to each, which are fascinating and hilarious glimpses of both his personality and process.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    1943 Retro Hugo Finalist for Best Novella “Hell is Forever” by Alfred Bester (Unknown Worlds, August 1942) - 3.5-4 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andres Borbon

    Me gustan mucho los argumentos de Bester pero siempre me desconcierta un poco la forma atropellada en que se suceden los acontecimientos. Siempre como si el único camino posible fuese cuesta abajo, y acelerando todo el tiempo. Es algo confuso, pero no cabe duda de que en esta antología de cuentos hay excelente material. Me gustó sobre todo Afectuosos Farenheit, aunque El infierno es eterno no está nada mal. En Los hombres que asesinaron a Mahoma las cosas se ponen bastante confusas y Bester lleg Me gustan mucho los argumentos de Bester pero siempre me desconcierta un poco la forma atropellada en que se suceden los acontecimientos. Siempre como si el único camino posible fuese cuesta abajo, y acelerando todo el tiempo. Es algo confuso, pero no cabe duda de que en esta antología de cuentos hay excelente material. Me gustó sobre todo Afectuosos Farenheit, aunque El infierno es eterno no está nada mal. En Los hombres que asesinaron a Mahoma las cosas se ponen bastante confusas y Bester llega a conclusiones que me parecen un poco sacadas de la manga, pero hay que recordar que se trata de ciencia ficción escrita en su mayor parte durante los 50's. Algo se ha avanzado desde entonces (hablo de la parte científica, por supuesto).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Intortetor

    alcuni racconti sono in comune con "tutti i racconti 1950 - 1980 / l'uomo disintegrato" della mondadori, ma qui ci sono gustosissime introduzioni dello stesso bester, altri racconti (occhio al lungo e inquietante "l'inferno è eterno"), un'intervista a asimov e soprattutto un breve autobiografia che mostra quello che il lettore ha già intuito tra le righe dele sue opere: un uomo curioso, spiritoso, intelligente e capace di adattarsi ai lavori più incredibili. grande bester, un antitodo a tanta, t alcuni racconti sono in comune con "tutti i racconti 1950 - 1980 / l'uomo disintegrato" della mondadori, ma qui ci sono gustosissime introduzioni dello stesso bester, altri racconti (occhio al lungo e inquietante "l'inferno è eterno"), un'intervista a asimov e soprattutto un breve autobiografia che mostra quello che il lettore ha già intuito tra le righe dele sue opere: un uomo curioso, spiritoso, intelligente e capace di adattarsi ai lavori più incredibili. grande bester, un antitodo a tanta, troppa fantascienza che oggi si prende troppo sul serio...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Simpson

    Some authors can transition seamlessly between novels and short stories and write excellent examples of both. Bester was not one of those. As good as his novels are, his short stories don't have nearly the same appeal. While many of the characters do have some life and personality, the plots are dull and I found myself "skimming" in many cases and had to go back several pages and read it again. Some authors can transition seamlessly between novels and short stories and write excellent examples of both. Bester was not one of those. As good as his novels are, his short stories don't have nearly the same appeal. While many of the characters do have some life and personality, the plots are dull and I found myself "skimming" in many cases and had to go back several pages and read it again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rena Sherwood

    I read this years ago and I still remember it. I used to have a copy but over the years have lost it. I do miss it. Nothing in it was as good as Bester's novel The Stars My Destination, but still a good read for those who love not only science fiction but the short story. I was disappointed that the cover had nothing to do with the stories inside, though. I read this years ago and I still remember it. I used to have a copy but over the years have lost it. I do miss it. Nothing in it was as good as Bester's novel The Stars My Destination, but still a good read for those who love not only science fiction but the short story. I was disappointed that the cover had nothing to do with the stories inside, though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick Tramdack

    I don't think Goodreads has proper bibliographic info on this one. The book's called "The Light Fantastic", and like any Alfred Bester book, it rocks. Not as much as the novels though. "A genius is someone who travels to the truth by an unexpected path." - from "The Men who Murdered Mohammed" I don't think Goodreads has proper bibliographic info on this one. The book's called "The Light Fantastic", and like any Alfred Bester book, it rocks. Not as much as the novels though. "A genius is someone who travels to the truth by an unexpected path." - from "The Men who Murdered Mohammed"

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    For my taste, Bester shines more in his novels than his short stories, but still, there are some very clever and entertaining stories included in this collection.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Keith Davis

    Excellent collection of most of Alfred Bester's best short stories. Excellent collection of most of Alfred Bester's best short stories.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    A good collection of Bester. One work, Adam and No Eve, had impressed me mightily years previously as an elementary student.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vuslat

    1- Adam çok iyi. 2- Adam net deli.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Since I didn't finish the book my two stars might not be fair, but the first two or three stories didn't grab me so I returned it to the library when it was due. Since I didn't finish the book my two stars might not be fair, but the first two or three stories didn't grab me so I returned it to the library when it was due.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Loock

    I read this one a long time ago (pre-1980)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    1/10/12: "Of Time and Third Avenue" (1951) 8/23/12: "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" (1963) 1/10/12: "Of Time and Third Avenue" (1951) 8/23/12: "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" (1963)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Earendil27

  19. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wigzell

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandro

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Reese

  27. 5 out of 5

    JC Hsyu

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Goodman

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pat C

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pete

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