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Alfred Bester (University of Illinois Press), by Jad Smith

Feb. 14, 2017
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“To hell with the science if it can’t produce fiction,” Alfred Bester memorably quipped. Although Bester wrote a batch of much-admired science fiction stories and novels, including The Demolished Man (1952) and The Stars My Destination (1957), many within the genre viewed him as an outsider. In his compact biography and close reading of Bester’s work, Eastern Illinois University professor Jad Smith depicts the author as a man of wide scope whose literary influences and academic interests endowed his best writing with a sophistication lacking in many pulp writers. By the time of his death in 1987, he was acknowledged by the rising generation of cyberpunk writers for, as Smith says, “marrying the gaudy, pop-culture feel of pulp fiction with high style.” 


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