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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (December 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568492499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568492490
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,788,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Lin on October 26, 2003
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Antinomian on February 9, 2006
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on October 21, 2005
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~]
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