A highly influential science fiction author, Alfred Bester was pretty much the Orson Welles of the literary world: an overweight, gregarious man who took chances with the format like nothing seen before. His works include The Demolished Man
(the first winner of the Hugo Award), The Stars My Destination
, and stories in comics like The Phantom
and several DC
characters. The latter gave us easily his most famous pop culture contribution in the Green Lantern
oath. His short-story "Fondly Fahrenheit" was turned into a made-for-TV movie, Murder and the Android
He loved Painting the Medium
, using illustrations, different fonts, and changes in point of view to enhance the story being told, plus the stories were always incredible on their own. Sadly, his career was hampered by failing eyesight in the mid-1970s, and he died in 1987 from complications from a broken hip.
He was the namesake of characters in two later classic sci-fi TV shows, Babylon 5
and a character in one of the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
Works with a page on this wiki:
Other works include:
- Who He? (aka The Rat Race)
- The Computer Connection
- The Deceivers
- Tender Loving Rage
- Psychoshop (with Roger Zelazny)
Tropes in other works:
- After the End: The seriocomic novella "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" features the last man and woman on earth—at least, they think they might be—trying to carry on with their daily lives in a decimated midtown Manhattan.
- Badass Creed: He is credited with inventing the Green Lantern Oath.
- But What About the Astronauts?: In "Adam and No Eve", a scientist develops a prototype spaceship using a kind of atomic engine, and poo-poos his colleagues fears that it will kill all life on Earth when he fires it up. He goes into orbit and returns to find that he's killed all life on earth. His solution is to die near some biomass and let the bacteria living in his gut start the evolution process all over again.
- Earth All Along: In the short story "Adam and No Eve", an experimental space flight sets off a chain reaction that devastates and sterilized the world, leaving the pilot of the spaceship as the last survivor. The story ends with the reveal that the planet will be reoccupied by life evolved from the pilot's gut microbes, and that present-day Earth is the result.
- For Want of a Nail: "The Push of a Finger" is built around this trope: a future-predicting machine reveals that the Universe will be destroyed in one thousand years unless the protagonists find and avert the single event that'll put everything in motion. it turns out to be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
- Inn Between the Worlds / The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Psychoshop has a sort of pawnshop that exists in the same place in nearly all universe, "where you can dump any unwanted aspect of your spirit as long as you exchange it for something else".
- Lotus-Eater Machine: In the short story "5,217,009", Jeffrey Halsyon is dumped into successive science-fiction-themed juvenile fantasies: in the first, he's the last fertile man on Earth, with all that implies. This turns out to be an unorthodox method of psychiatric treatment.
- Mutants: The escapism inherent in this trope was subverted as early as 1954, in the short story "5,271,009." Here, the main character is put in a Lotus-Eater Machine and experiences multiple juvenile fantasies, each of which is explained by "a mysterious mutant strain in his makeup that makes him different."
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: The short story "5,271,009" explores this scenario (and a few other cliched-even-in-1954 sf wish-fulfillment scenarios) for the sole purpose of poking holes in it.
- Projected Man: The Computer Connection apparently used this technique to replace both telephones (called "projecting") and advertising. The latter reversed the traditional payment scheme of advertising in that consumers could pay a monthly fee to maintain the insulation in their homes to keep the advertising out.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Golem100 has a place where two characters take drugs. The next ten pages or so are freaky concept art with minimal text. Then the regular text restores, and a policeman explains to them just what they were doing that time (each art piece represents about an hour of debauchery, such as streaking an entire city block).
- Which Me?: "Fondly Fahrenheit", in which a man and his android duplicate can't tell which of them he is, nor which of them is a murderer.