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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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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester

The Insider’s Outsider

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Alfred Bester
Source:
Alfred Bester
Author(s):

Jad Smith

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252040634.003.0001

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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