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Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester [Hardcover]

Alfred Bester
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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4.0 out of 5 stars The most interesting of the Bester collections Oct. 26 2003
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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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection of Bester's Popular Short SF Works Feb. 9 2006
By Antinomian - Published on Amazon.com
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, 3 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
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 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
5.0 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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection of science fiction stories Dec 5 1999
By Justin Kraft - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really can't believe there are no reviews for this book. I would have to say it is one of the best I've ever read. I really enjoyed Alfred Bestler's writing in this book, and found the stories highly entertaining. I highly suggest it (although this says it's out of print :).
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