Alfred Bester was a successful screenwriter of television series and radio shows, editor and screenwriter of comics. But, despite the achievements in all these areas, he was remembered by many as the author of science fiction.
Who is Bester?
Alfred was among the few authors who began writing in the genre of science fiction. Shortly before his death, the Association of Science Fiction Writers of America awarded Bester with the honorary title of "Grand Master." In 2001, the name of Alfred Bester was listed on the Hall of Fame.
The writer was born in New York on 12/18/1913 in the family of the owner of a shoe store. Parents of his father James 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 adopted the Catholic faith. Alfred, balancing between the two religions, grew up an atheist.
He studied Alfred Bester at the University of Pennsylvania. His specialization was psychology. He studied at "excellent", paid attention to the study of the humanities. Being an excellent athlete, Alfred played in the football team and, in his words, was the most successful fencer. After university, he entered Columbia Law School, but left it a year later.
In a New York company, he found a job as a clerk and, with his inherent energy, undertook to equip his personal life. In 1936 he married the successful actress Rolly Gulko, with whom he lived until his death on September 30, 1987. Bester lived permanently in New York. In the mid-50s, he lived in Europe for a little more than a year, but then he and Rolly moved to Pennsylvania.
How did his career begin?
Bester took his first creations to Wonder Stories magazine. In three years of collaboration with science fiction editions, Alfred wrote fourteen stories. The career of the young author went uphill.
In the early 40s, M. Weisinger, the editor of the magazine, was invited to work in the popular company National Periodicals, where superheroes of the comic books Superman and Batman settled. Weissinger was offered to do their adventures. He not only accepted the offer, but also brought a group of his own authors to the company, including Alfred Bester.
The frantic pace of the comic book industry has captured Bester. Here, in contrast to the periodical literature, it was necessary to come up with new subjects, dialogues, and scripts daily. But this work was paid much better.
Of course, it’s difficult to assess Bester’s personal contribution to the “superhero cycles”. Since work on comics was a team work, they were written by several authors, and sometimes several dozens of series were in the work. Comics provided work not only for Alfred, but also for his wife. She voiced major roles in the radio version of Superman.
Rollie told Alfred that the managers were looking for the author of the scripts for the detective radio shows and were offering substantial money for the work. The company hosted several detective shows, so I had to work at a frantic pace. But Bester had such an experience, thanks to the comics. In addition, a group of scriptwriters was led by a professional in their field, Walter Gibson.
In 1948, another project appeared for Bester - art television shows. Televisions were then still exotic, so most often they recall his later work - the series "Tom Corbett", which appeared on the screens for several years on different channels. In 1950, Bester returned to the science fiction magazine.
Back to the roots
Alfred Bester marked his return to the genre with the fantastic story “Oddi 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 led to the "escape" from the magazine of many remarkable authors.
This led to the creation of new publications, and Campbell was immediately challenged with two rather serious challenges from F&SF and Galaxy Science Fiction magazines. Alfred Bester has new platforms for publications.
Work on radio and television took a lot of time, so Alfred wrote a little. During this time he improved his skills. His stories acquired a brilliant sense of rhythm, lightness and fiery energy and would honor any publication of a fantastic genre.
F&SF publishes two of Bester’s short stories, Choice and Time and Third Avenue. In 1952, Galaxy Magazine began the partial publication of a novel written by Alfred Bester, A Man Without a Face.
Way to the top
The release of Bester’s first novels “A Man Without a Face” and “Tiger!” Tiger!" comparable to the effect of an exploding bomb. Still would. A psychologist by training, Alfred awarded his heroes the quintessence of certain character traits.
Deep psychological subjects that raise the eternal moral principles and problems - freedom, law, truth, forgiveness, responsibility. Not a single superfluous word - everything is perfected and subordinated to the idea as much as possible. In every sentence, tension, like a tight tight spring. Books seem to have energy that attracts, and it is simply impossible to break away from reading.
“Man without a face” opens up to the reader a world where progress has been made in evolution, which has divided humanity into telepathic espers and non-telepathic. It would seem that the world is on the verge of destruction and chaos. But the espers use their abilities only for the good of society.
In the center of events is the owner of the largest corporation, who is tormented by nightmares every night, where he is chased by a person without a face. He considers his competitor to be the culprit of painful dreams and decides to kill. But how to do this? After all, such thoughts cannot be ignored by telepaths.
The novel "Tiger! Tiger!" represents another stage of evolution - the ability to teleport, jantation (moving by the power of thought). Those who are deprived of these abilities are considered almost the dregs of society. A spaceship with a “normal” crew crashes. The only mechanic who survived on the ship for six months lives among the wreckage and sends distress signals to space. But they are ignored.
The survivor gains the goal - to survive and take revenge on those who threw him to death. Not possessing extraordinary abilities, and 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 dialogue, 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 “Great Master” was deservedly received by the remarkable science fiction writer Alfred Bester.
For forty years of creative activity, Alfred has published less than ten novels. But every Bester’s book became an event. Almost at the same time as the first two books, he wrote the novel “Who is he?”
At the end of the 50s, Alfred invited the reputable Holiday magazine to the post of editor. Bester accepts their offer and works in the publishing house until the closure of the magazine. During this period he publishes only the journalistic book Life and Death of a Satellite and stories.
Meanwhile, science fiction lovers expect a new novel in the meantime. But, having disappeared for many years, as if Bester did not notice their impatience. Alfred, whose storybook incites readers' interest, pauses in the career of science fiction writer.
After a huge break of almost twenty years, the “Devilish Interface” was released in 1975. Five years later, Golem100 and The Deceivers, one after another, came out from under his pen. In 1991 and 1998, the books Tender Violence of Passion and Psycholavka were published.
Alfred Bester wrote over sixty short stories, short stories and essays, which were 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. And also included in the list of the best fiction novels, confirming the honorary title of its creator.