Alfred Bester was one of the grandmaster class of science fiction writers The Demolished Man and Stars my Destination are widely considered among the best of the genre In the first one it was peepers and murder in a crimeless society in the second it was the new human technology of jaunting and a rollicking revenge plot based on the Count of Monte Cristo In The Computer Connection, Bester tackles a Group of immortals, or molecule men We meet Guest, a.
a the Chief, a.
a Sequoia, a native american physicist, who may be prime material to join the Group, if he survives of course, heh heh heh Enter an evil computer and a possible renegade immortal to the mix as Bester gives the pot one stir after another This is far from a bad novel even if you can usually Guess what s coming He s still got a few Besterisms up his sleeve and some linguistic trickery and fun I suppose writers with a few masterpieces under their belts get a little bored of painting you the picture and filling in details and characterization It becomes of a sketch for a comic book, where you fill in the panels with your imagination, and don t complain that it s not bulked out with Dickensian description That stuff is always nice, but in genre novels, it s really beside the point One knows the premise, the settings and the basic character types, and what we re clamoring for is STORY The ending sort of piffles out, but he does manage to tie this whole thing into a kind of bow.
A Band Of Immortals Recruit A New Member, The Brilliant Cherokee Physicist Sequoya Guess Dr Guess, With The Group S Help, Gains Control Of Extro, The Super Computer That Controls All Mechanical Activity On Earth They Plan To Rid Earth Of Political Repression And To Further Guess S Researches Which May Lead To A Great Leap In Human Evolution To Produce A Race Of Supermen But Extro Takes Over Guess Instead And Turns Malevolent The Task Of The Merry Band Suddenly Becomes A Fight In Deadly Earnest For The Future Of Earth Alfred Bester was a very creative writer In the 1950 s, he wrote two classic SF novel The Demolished Man which won a Hugo and Tiger Tiger aka The Stars are my Destination which is considered one of if not the best SF novel of the 1950 s He also wrote several excellent short stories throughout his life time.
One can tell a Bester work just from looking at the text It is common practice these days, but back then in the fifties , he liked doing odd graphic things with the letters of his type And he tended to add drawings within the text I imagine that this was a headache to publishers and typesetters of the day This visual elements might have something to do with the fact that the majority of his work was in television and comic books.
After a quarter of century hiatus of the SF novel writing, in 1974, he published The Computer Connection aka Indian Giver Uggh aka Extro in Britain which is the most apt title Though this novel has all the elements of a bonafide Bester work incorporating all of his personal unique touches, unfortunately it has its short comings Perhaps he tried too hard with this one the hip lingo, the unconventional pros, the odd plotting and so on it just didn t quite work as a whole He himself said, during an interview with Charles Platt my first experiment was a disaster That confounded book There is something vitally wrong with that book, and I knew it when I finished it, and couldn t patch it then, and to this day Sept 1979 I think about it, because there s no point in making a mistake unless you understand the mistake so that you don t make it again I don t understand it, so I can t profit by it It s infuriating Even though Bester seems a little out of touch on this one, I still consider the man a genius.
There was a strain of exuberant writing in the late 1960s and early 1970s and this is solidly in that vein It ranged from Hunter S Thompson to Richard Brautigan and beyond This is solidly in that micro tradition.
Let go and join the flow Don t try to figure out the science or the slang or any of those things you are used to digging into in an SF novel This is a wild ride with fireworks at every turn.
This book got better as it went on The first few pages were almost incomprehensible in it s amount of slang that is unexplained E.
, the first sentence I tore down the Continental Shelf off the Bogue Bank while the pogo made periscope hops trying to track me.
What But as I read through the book it actually began to make and sense, and by the middle I was actually invested in the characters and story.
Something about this book made me want to read it at break neck speed, I don t have the energy to dissect Bester s writing, but it lent itself to speed reading.
5 5 stars, If you got it in the Humble Bundle like I did, feel free to jump in I wouldn t recommend going out and buying it though.
It s weird, and a little wacko, but actually not that hard to follow I m not sure it wasn t excellent, but I m not sure it was, either So I ll split the difference.
If you like Zelazney, Dick and other surreal authors, try this It s not like Bester s other works at all, and very out there.
Although somewhat dated now, this is still a very good Alfred Bester novel, which means it is a very good story.
Alfred Bester wrote The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man, two must reads for any serious fan of science fiction literature They are classics worthy of study, as well as just good books.
Then, he stopped writing novels for many years Sadly, he returned to writing in order to write this book.
Having loved Bester s classic works, I was surprised to stumble across this book in a book sale I didn t recognize the title or remember the premise, so I figured, How bad could it be It s written by Bester I then spent an hour stumbling through the prose Written after a long layoff from writing novels, Bester seems to have been trying to write a trendy, New Wave science fiction novel of the kind that Michael Moorcock and his friends were writing at the time Unfortunately, this style is not well matched to Bester s, and the result was painful.
Supposedly, in a little over 100 years, a frankly insulting blend of Spanish and African American English which seems to be based on slang and accents from 1940s movies, so it comes out with things like gemmun for gentlemen has replaced standard English, and the remaining Caucasian part of the population has inbred to imbecility No reason, just because Repeatedly through the story Bester s dates and numbers wander into weirdness As an example, within the story the Cherokee people apparently have gone through 20 generations in 250 years You may pause to think about what this means.
There s also a very sexualized 13 year old in the story, who was apparently born in the 5th row of Graumann s Chinese theater and keeps hoping to have sex with every adult male character in the story That got creepy right away, and stayed creepy, even though they turn her down.
Then, there s the actual story It is based on the idea that a sufficient trauma near death can sometimes scare your body out of ever dying So, yes, he really went therethat s why and how Jesus came back, along with a weird variety of other characters.
There s also time travel and other weirdness, but all in support of this concept and related ones.
I very rarely give up on a book without finishing it I don t think I can finish this one The time I ve already spent has felt like too much of a waste of my time.
Stopped around page 120 Officially the first book in my life that I have stopped reading because of its sheer awfulness What the hell were you thinking, Alfred This is bad and you should feel bad.