Biography Base Home
  Biography Base Home | Link To Us
Search Biographies:
Alfred Bester Biography
Alfred Bester (December 18, 1913 - September 30, 1987) was a science fiction author and the winner of the first Hugo Award for his novel The Demolished Man in 1953.

Biographical timeline
18 December 1913 - born in New York City
1935 - received Bachelor of Arts from University of Pennsylvania
1936 - married Rolly Goulko
30 September 1987 - died
Bester published his first short story, "The Broken Axiom", in Thrilling Wonder Stories (April 1939) after winning an amateur story competition. This competition was arranged so he could have a start on the business. He already knew some people and had given to them some work to read, and they came up with the contest. He continued to publish short fiction and in 1942 he began working at DC Comics as a writer for Superman, Green Lantern, and other titles. After four years in the comics industry, he turned his attention to radio scripts, writing for The Shadow and Charlie Chan. He wrote the original Green Lantern Oath.

His short fiction was initially collected in Starburst (1958) and The Dark Side of the Earth (1964), with further collections appearing in the 1970s. His short stories, such as "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed" (about unsuccessful atttempts to change history through time travel), cemented his reputation, but he is best known for two of his novels, The Demolished Man and Tiger! Tiger! (a.k.a. The Stars My Destination). (The title Tiger! Tiger! is a quotation from The Tyger by William Blake.)

Tiger! Tiger! had its origins in a newspaper clipping that Bester found, of a shipwrecked WW II sailor on a raft, who had drifted unrescued in the Pacific for days because passing ships thought he was a lure to bring them within torpedo range of a hidden submarine. From this germ grew the story of Gully Foyle, seeking revenge for his abandonment and causing havoc all about him: a science fictional re-telling of Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo with teleportation added to the mix. It has been described as an ancestor of cyberpunk.

The Demolished Man is a police procedural in which telepathy is relatively common; a major plot component is an obsessive tune that the protagonist has in his head to block his thoughts from casual scanning.

This novel is dedicated to Horace Gold, the editor, who made a lot of suggestions to the oeuvre. Originally Bester wanted the title to be "Demolition!" but Gold talked him out of it.

The strength of both novels depends on how well Bester integrated these science fictional elements into his societies.

Bester used to work at Campbell's magazine but later left his side when Campbell became too obsessed with L. Ron Hubbard and his Scientology. He found then in Horace Gold an editor and a good friend.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, he was editor-in-chief of Holiday magazine. After the magazine ceased publication in the early 1970s, Bester returned to science fiction with more short stories and several more novels, although none captured the full brilliance he exhibited in his earlier period.

A radio adaptation of Tiger! Tiger! was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1991, although this may have been a repeat broadcast. [1] ( lists the play as a 60-minute episode, but the original running time was almost certainly 90 minutes.

Bester wrote one mainstream novel in the 1950s, The Rat Race, in which a TV game show host, waking up after an alcoholic blackout, discovers that someone is out to destroy his life.

Notable short stories:

"5,271,009", in which a character is placed within various science-fictional wish-fulfillment scenarios, and discovers the flaw in each (the Last Man on Earth, and no dentists...)
"Fondly Fahrenheit", in which a malfunctioning android becomes murderously violent in hot weather
"The Rollercoaster", written in the '50s, in which there's an unusual treatment of violence and time travel. Quite ahead of his time.
The producer of the first Superman movie sent his son off to search for a writer. The name of Alfred Bester came up. He wanted to focus the story on Clark Kent, the real hero, while Superman was only "his gun". Bester was devistated when the producer declined to hire an unknown writer and decided to go with Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather.

He died alone and was remembered at a convention that same year. It's been told that even Isaac Asimov was on the verge of tears. Alfred Bester left all to his bartender, who was surprised because he didn't even remember him.
Alfred Bester Resources
Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Sitemap

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Alfred Bester.