On This Day (26 Years Apart)

18 December 2012

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place,
The stars my destination.

Ninety-nine years ago, today, Alfred Bester was born. You might recognise the verse above from his stunning SF classic, The Stars My Destination (initially titled Tiger! Tiger! in its UK edition), first published in 1956. Bester had won the first ever Hugo Award three years earlier with his first novel, The Demolished Man – a wonderful SF-detective hybrid – and it seems a little unfair that that inventive debut should be almost immediately put in the shade by his next book.

But few novels would stand comparison with The Stars My Destination. As boundary-pushing as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (to name but two) undoubtedly were in the ’80s, if you want to see where Cyberpunk really begins, you have to read The Stars My Destination. It’s an extraordinary work: energetic, inventive, typographically playful. It would be interesting to see what Alfred Bester would have made of the possibilities opened up by digital publishing and multimedia, given how innovative his use of 2D type could be. . .

Twenty-Six Years Later . . .

Obviously, it’s a statistical inevitability, given that there have been in the region of 10 billion people born since the beginning of the 20th century, and there are only 366 possible dates for them to have been born on, that many people are going to share the same birthday. Still, that shouldn’t stop us noting these interesting bits of data, especially when they involve two writers as inventive and influential as Alfred Bester and . . .

Michael Moorcock, who was born on this day in 1939. Every bit as influential on modern fantasy as Bester was on modern SF – probably more so – Michael Moorcock is one of the undisputed giants of the genre. As he’ll soon be joining the ranks of SF Gateway authors (Spring next year, as you ask – keep an eye on the blog for updates), we’ll keep our powder dry for now and simply direct you to his author entry on the excellent Encyclopedia of Science Fiction for more detail – and, of course, wish the great man a very Happy Birthday!

 

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