Alfred Bester (1913–1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. He is best remembered for his science fiction, including The Demolished Man, winner of the inaugural Hugo Award in 1953.
Science fiction author Harry Harrison wrote, “Alfred Bester was one of the handful of writers who invented modern science fiction.”
Shortly before his death, the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) named Bester its ninth Grand Master, presented posthumously in 1988. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2001.
In his first period of writing science fiction (1939–1942), Alfred Bester had been establishing a reputation as a short story writer in science fiction circles with stories such as “Adam and No Eve”. However, Bester gained his greatest renown for the work he wrote and published in the 1950s, including The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination (also known as Tiger! Tiger!).
The Demolished Man, recipient of the first Hugo Award for best Science Fiction novel, is a police procedural that takes place in a future world in which telepathy is relatively common. Bester creates a harshly capitalistic, hierarchical and competitive social world that exists without deceit: a society in which the right person with some skill (or money) and curiosity can access your memories, secrets, fears and past misdeeds more swiftly than even you.
Originally published in three parts in Galaxy, beginning in January 1952, The Demolished Man appeared in book form in 1953. It was dedicated to Gold, who made a number of suggestions during its writing. Originally, Bester wanted the title to be Demolition!, but Gold talked him out of it.
Alfred Bester – First Edition identification points and Guide
Note: This list only includes works published prior to 1977.
|Year||Title||Publisher||First edition/printing identification points|
|1967||AN ALFRED BESTER OMNIBUS||London: Sidgwick & Jackson, ||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Reprint. Collects THE DEMOLISHED MAN, TIGER! TIGER!, and THE DARK SIDE OF EARTH. Note: Only hardcover publication of THE DARK SIDE OF EARTH.|
|1975||THE COMPUTER CONNECTION||New York: Berkley Publishing Corp., ||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Issued later in Great Britain as EXTRO.|
|1964||THE DARK SIDE OF EARTH||[New York]: Published by The New American Library, ||Wrappers. First printing, May, 1964 on © page. Signet Books D2474 (50c). Collected later in AN ALFRED BESTER OMNIBUS.|
|1953||THE DEMOLISHED MAN||Chicago: Shasta Publishers, [1953 ]||Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page. Collected later in AN ALFRED BESTER OMNIBUS.|
|1975||EXTRO||London: Eyre Methuen, ||Boards. First published in Great Britain 1975... on © page. Issued earlier in the U.S. as THE COMPUTER CONNECTION.|
|1976||THE LIGHT FANTASTIC||New York: Published by Berkley Publishing Corp., ||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Collected later in STARLIGHT: THE GREAT SHORT FICTION OF ALFRED BESTER.|
|1956||THE RAT RACE||New York: Berkley Publishing Corp., ||Wrappers. February, 1956 on © page. Berkley Books G-19 (350). Reissue of "WHO HE?"|
|1976||STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT||New York: Published by Berkley Publishing Corp., ||No statement of printing on © page. Collected later in STARLIGHT: THE GREAT SHORT FICTION OF ALFRED BESTER.|
|1953||STARBURST||[New York]: Published by The New American Library, ||Wrappers. First printing, May, 1958 on © page. Signer Books SI524 (35c).|
|1976||STARLIGHT: THE GREAT SHORT FICTION OF ALFRED BESTER||Garden City: Nelson Doubleday, Inc., ||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Code G 47 on page 408. Reprint. Collects THE LIGHT FANTASTIC and STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT. Note: Issued by the Science Fiction Book Club.|
|1957||THE STARS MY DESTINATION||[New York]: Published by the New American Library, ||Wrappers. First Printing, March, 1957 on © page. Signet Books SI389 (35c). Revised text of TIGER! TIGER! |
ALSO: Boston: Gregg Press, 1975. No statement of printing on © page. First hardcover edition of the revised text. Note: Not issued in dust jacket.
|1956||TIGER! TIGER||London: Sidgwick and Jackson, ||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Collected later in AN ALFRED BESTER OMNIBUS. Issued later in the U.S. with textual changes as THE STARS MY DESTINATION.|
|1953||"WHO HE?"||New York: The Dial Press, 1953||Boards with cloth shelf back. No statement of printing on © page. Reissued as THE RAT RACE.|
Alfred Bester – First Printing Dust Jacket identification points
Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of Alfred Bester’s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.
- L. W. Currey, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction.