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Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester Hardcover – Dec 1 1993

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (Dec 1 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568492499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568492490
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,723,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What sets *Starlight* apart from *Virtual Unrealities* and *Re-Demolished* is simply the voice of non-Sci-Fi Bester. The introductions and anecdotes preceding each story is a fascinating look into the writer's craft and the mind of a lifelong (though more talented than most) dilletante.
This is really the only opportunity left to us in (somewhat widely) available print to see Bester when he's not spinning wildly inventive fiction or fantasy. While one can still find *My Affair With Science Fiction* re-printed here and there, where else are we going to find the source material for the characters of "Hell is Forever" or Bester's personal opinion of Dillenger?
Perhaps *Re-Demolished* provides us with a wider spectrum of Bester's works (there are a few pieces there with NO ties to science fiction), but in *Starlight* we get glorious flashes of Bester away from the fantasy: occasional glimpses of libaries, foreign lands, fishing trips, and television studios.
Alfred Bester was a prodigious 20th-century talent, and *Starlight* allows us to get as close to a conversation with him as possible.
Rest in peace, Alfie.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a163f9c) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99ff2b34) out of 5 stars The most interesting of the Bester collections Oct. 26 2003
By Jimmy Lin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What sets *Starlight* apart from *Virtual Unrealities* and *Re-Demolished* is simply the voice of non-Sci-Fi Bester. The introductions and anecdotes preceding each story is a fascinating look into the writer's craft and the mind of a lifelong (though more talented than most) dilletante.
This is really the only opportunity left to us in (somewhat widely) available print to see Bester when he's not spinning wildly inventive fiction or fantasy. While one can still find *My Affair With Science Fiction* re-printed here and there, where else are we going to find the source material for the characters of "Hell is Forever" or Bester's personal opinion of Dillenger?
Perhaps *Re-Demolished* provides us with a wider spectrum of Bester's works (there are a few pieces there with NO ties to science fiction), but in *Starlight* we get glorious flashes of Bester away from the fantasy: occasional glimpses of libaries, foreign lands, fishing trips, and television studios.
Alfred Bester was a prodigious 20th-century talent, and *Starlight* allows us to get as close to a conversation with him as possible.
Rest in peace, Alfie.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99ff2d80) out of 5 stars A Great Collection of Bester's Popular Short SF Works Feb. 9 2006
By Antinomian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As you may have read, Alfred Bester's novels, The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination (TSMD) are highly recommended for those that enjoy reading science fiction. If you're wanting to read more by Bester after that, a collection of his short stories is the next good place to go. His short to-the-point prose, storyline twists, and some similarities to the main character in TSMD are in his stories and Starlight is a collection of his better shorter SF works. Although Starlight is presently out of print, it can be purchased used by sellers via Amazon, sometimes for as little as 1 cent excluding shipping fees!

Starlight is slightly better than Virtual Unrealities in that each story is accompanied by a short description on the story. Starlight excludes Will You Wait?, The Flowered Thundermug, 3½ to Go, Galatea Galante, The Devil Without Glasses, BUT includes Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle, Comment on "Fondly Fahrenheit", Four-Hour Fugue, Hell Is Forever, Isaac Asimov, Something Up There Likes Me, and My Affair with Science Fiction. Hell Is Forever, which is included only in this collection out of the two, was written incredibly in 1942, but the characters are just as relevant and realistic today in their selfishness as then. In this incredible story, one of the characters asks a powerful entity the impossible unrealistic request of answering the secret of the universe and to yet keep it from being answered as to maintain its mystique and incredibly, and unbelievably, Bester does just that in the story.

Note that there are different reviews between the Starlight hardcopy and the Starlight paperback Amazon reviews.

Table of contents and info for Starlight:

1976, 452pp. Combination of two previously published collections from 1976. Collection of 16 stories and three articles. ss: short story, nv: novelette, na: novella, ar: article.

* * from book: The Light Fantastic * ed. Alfred Bester * co Berkley/Putnam, 1976

* * 5,271,009 * nv F&SF Mar 1954

* * Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle * ss Status, 1968

* * Fondly Fahrenheit * nv F&SF Aug 1954

* * Comment on "Fondly Fahrenheit" * ar

* * The Four-Hour Fugue * ss Analog Jun 1974 (`75 Hugo ss finalist), used in Golem^100?

* * The Men Who Murdered Mohammed * ss F&SF Oct 1958 (`59 Hugo ss finalist)

* * Disappearing Act * ss Star Science Fiction Stories #2, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1953

* * Hell Is Forever * na Unknown Aug 1942

* * from book: Star Light, Star Bright * ed. Alfred Bester * co Berkley/Putnam, 1976

* * Adam and No Eve * ss Astounding Sep 1941

* * Time Is the Traitor * nv F&SF Sep 1953

* * Oddy and Id ["The Devil's Invention"] * ss Astounding Aug 1950

* * Hobson's Choice * ss F&SF Aug '52 1952

* * Star Light, Star Bright * ss F&SF Jul 1953

* * They Don't Make Life Like They Used To * nv F&SF Oct 1963

* * Of Time and Third Avenue * ss F&SF Oct 1951

* * 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 (`60Hfinal)

* * 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
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99ff2fc0) out of 5 stars Behold Bester's Brain Oct. 21 2005
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
After your mind has been blown by Bester's two immortal novels, The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination (both infinitely recommended), this is the place to collect most of the rest of his known works in science fiction. Unlike the more recent reissued short story collections, this volume is worth tracking down because of Bester's introductions to each of the stories, not to mention the inclusion of his bare-bones autobiography "My Affair with Science Fiction." These essays shed much-needed light on Bester's personality and writing style, which you would be justified in being quite curious about based on his novels. We learn that one of his basic writing methods was to unapologetically lay waste to tired and played out SF stereotypes, creating works that are incredibly inventive, imaginative, and sometimes downright bizarre; and always with bodacious dialogue, offbeat settings, and unsettling themes.

As for the short stories themselves, there is one misstep here – "The Four-Hour Fugue" which is merely excerpted from the late-period Bester novel Golem^100 (or is an early version of one section of the book), and hence doesn’t make much sense in short form. But otherwise, the stories here are uniformly mind-boggling. Bester twists the time travel concept in remarkable ways in the hysterical "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" and the unsettling "Hobson's Choice," and wildly distorts the last-man-on-Earth motif in "Adam and No Eve" and "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To." Another very noteworthy tale here is the sneakily disturbing "Disappearing Act," which has strong anti-war themes that are distressingly relevant today, more than fifty years after it was written. Bester spent most of his career writing in other fields, but his small amount of classic science fiction demands to be discovered by adventurous and free-thinking readers everywhere. [~doomsdayer520~]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99ff533c) out of 5 stars Bester's Best Jan. 3 2000
By Arthur P. Bollmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Most of the short stories in thi s volume are also reprinted in "Virtual Unrealities" but, if you can find this volume, it is much better because of the introductions and essays that Bester wrote. They help to create the feeling that you actually know the man. The stories themselves are among ht ebest science fiction short stories that I have ever read.
HASH(0x99ff5558) out of 5 stars Alfred Bester - short fiction collection - recommended Oct. 8 2015
By Paul F. Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Starlight - Alfred Bester - [634 - Anthology - SF - 10-09-2015]

"Starlight" is an anthology of stories written by Alfred Bester (1913-87). All 16 stories were first published 1941-74 in science-fiction magazines - mostly "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" and a few in "Astounding". The book also includes two non-fiction selections. One is a short appreciation of Isaac Asimov (1920-92). The other item is a lengthy essay by Bester titled "My Affair with Science Fiction". For fans and those just curious this essay is cause sufficient to pick up this anthology. Each story has a perceptive introduction by the author, which this reader found very informative. In fact these introductions are almost as interesting as the stories insofar as we are given Bester's mental ruminations concerning how he came up with his ideas.

Before I comment of the stories the actual book "Starlight" Nelson Doubleday, copyright 1976, 409 pages is a merging of two other Alfred Bester anthologies: "Star Light Star Bright" and "The Light Fantastic".

THE LIGHT FANTASTIC:
"5,271,009" - 36 pgs. - This is the smartest talking devil-wise guy you will ever encounter in fiction.

"Ms. Found in a Champagne Bottle" - 4 pgs. - When the machines take over and last rich man expires we can a breath a sage of relief.

"Fondly Fahrenheit" - 21 pgs. - An overlong take on a deranged robot that goes rogue when it get steamy hot.

"The Four-Hour Fugue" - 19 pgs. - A scientist was concocts exotic perfumes has a strange hobby after hours.

"The Man who Murdered Mohammed" - 14 pgs. - An above average time travel story.

"Disappearing Act" - 19 pgs. - War is madness and combined with time travel it really gets out of hand.

"Hell is Forever" - 76 pgs. - The longest story in the book and the only one I gave up on - much too long in my opinion - the author sure liked it he gave it a 5 pages introduction.

STAR LIGHT - STAR BRIGHT
"Adam and No Eve" - 14 pgs. - A gimmick story that probably was must better in 1941 when it was first published.

"Time is the Traitor" - 23 pgs. - Obsession of the manic wealthy and love lost.

"Oddy and Id" - 18 pgs. - A man who can manipulate events is beyond the control on mere mortals.

"Hobson's Choice" - 16 pgs. - A ho-hum time-travel story.

"Star Light Star Bright" - 18 pgs. - Stuart Buchanan was an above average 5th grader who disappeared when his vacation essay drew the interest of some low-life lawyers.

"They Don't Make Life Like they Used To" - 44 pgs. - The last man and women eventually conclude they are the new Adam and Eve.

"Of Time and Third Avenue" - 10 pgs. - The "oh yes" moment is the last sentence of this excellent story.

"Isaac Asimov" - 5 pgs. - A non-fiction tribute to the good doctor.

"The Pi Man" - 20 pgs. - Any story that makes charts out of words turns me off - like this one did.

"Something Up There Likes Me" - 25 pgs. - A NASA satellite becomes, well, super intelligent is this piece of dated fluff.

"My Affair With Science Fiction" - 22pgs A candid semi-biography of the author's love-hate relationship with science-fiction.

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