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Alfred Bester$
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Jad Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040634

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040634.001.0001

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Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester

The Insider’s Outsider

(p.1) Introduction Alfred Bester
Alfred Bester

Jad Smith

University of Illinois Press

The introduction examines how Bester’s unique approach challenged the paradigm of Golden Age science fiction. After a stint scripting comics and radio, Bester returned to the SF field in search of creative freedom; however, a conflict with legendary editor John W. Campbell over the story “Oddy and Id,” among other circumstances, prompted Bester to assume the stance of an outsider and write against the grain of the Astounding ethos, which he came to regard as escapist and scientistic. Bester wanted to write “arrest” fiction “full of romantic curiosity” that left ample opportunity for the reader to cogenerate meaning and experience the euphoria of raw imagination. Bester’s approach is discussed in terms of Roland Barthes’s distinction between “readable” and “writable” fiction.

Keywords:   Camille Flammarion, escapism, extrapolation, Golden Age SF, Leo Tolstoy, metafiction, pastiche, Roland Barthes, scientism, Thomas M. Disch

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