The Computer Connection by Alfred Bester (Books 2022, 16)

This starts out with the main character escaping from some obscure threat and reaching a friend’s place. The friend sends him into the past — so you think it’s going to be a time-travel story. In the past he tries to save a struggling artist by giving him gold.

And that’s the last we hear of time travel. It’s actually a story of humans who have attained bodily immortality through various traumatic incidents, and things going on with them. There’s some space travel, and, not surprisingly given the tite, a computer connection.

It’s pretty strange in the way that Bester can be. Not one of his best, but interesting enough. Harlan Ellison praises it — and Bester — highly in the introduction.

I had one of those, ‘Have I read this before?’ experiences through the first few chapters, but it soon stopped. So I wonder if I started it once before. If so, I don’t know why I’d have stopped, as it kept me going this time.

Book notes 9: Redemolished, by Alfred Bester

I found this in the local library, having never heard of it before. It is a relatively recently-published (2000) collection containing some of his short fiction, some essays, and some interviews he did with people as diverse as Isaac Asimov and Woody Allen.

The title is, of course, a reference to his famous novel The Demolished Man, and appears to have been chosen mainly because the ‘deleted’ prologue to that novel is included here.

The non-fiction is interesting, not least in showing part of what Bester did for a living after he more-or-less dropped out of SF for a long time (he made most of his money by writing for TV).

The fiction, on the whole, is slightly disappointing. I enjoyed it well enough, but it hasn’t aged well: most of it reads as quite dated.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of the stories was the one which taught me the meaning of the word “fugue” (both musical and psychological) many years ago. I recalled that I had learned it from a story, but not what story it was: ‘The Four-Hour Fugue’. Who said SF wasn’t educational?