Alfred Bester

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Alfred Bester (December 18, 1913September 30, 1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books.


The Demolished Man (1953)[edit]

All page numbers from the 1996 paperback edition published by Vintage Books
  • The mind is the reality. You are what you think.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 28).
  • “Neither of us is very trustworthy, eh?”
    “Pfutz!” Reich said emphatically. “We don’t play girl’s rules. We play for keeps, both of us. It’s the cowards and weaklings and sore-losers who hide behind rules and fair play.”
    “What about honor and ethics?”
    “We’ve got honor in us, but it’s our own code...not the make-believe rules some frightened little man wrote for the rest of the frightened little men. Every man’s got his own honor and ethics, and so long as he sticks to ’em, who’s anybody else to point the finger? You may not like his ethics, but you've no right to call him unethical.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 84).
  • Powell repressed the wave of exasperation that rose up in him. It was not exasperation with Chooka. It was anger for the relentless force of evolution that insisted on endowing man with increased powers without removing the vestigial vices that prevented him from using them.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 114).

The Stars My Destination (1956)[edit]

All page numbers from the 1996 paperback edition published by Vintage Books
  • He awoke. He was alive. He wasted no time on prayer or thanks but continued the business of survival.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 19).
  • We always do what’s natural, only sometimes we shouldn’t do it.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 98).
  • Yes, no matter how we defend ourselves against the outside we’re always licked by something from the inside. There’s no defense against betrayal, and we all betray ourselves.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 188).
  • Revenge is for dreams...never for reality.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 194).
  • The man who gives his own decisions priority over society is a criminal.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 221).
  • “That’s me,” he said, motioning to the robot. “That’s all of us. We prattle about free will, but we’re nothing but response...mechanical reaction in prescribed grooves.”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 247).
  • “Wait,” Foyle commanded. He looked at the beaming grin engraved in the steel robot face. “But society can be so stupid. So confused. You’ve witnessed this conference.”
    “Yes, sir, but you must teach, not dictate. You must teach society.”
    “To space-jaunte? Why? Why reach out to the stars and galaxies? What for?”
    “Because you’re alive, sir. You might as well ask: Why is life? Don’t ask about it. Live it.”
    “Quite mad,” Dagenham muttered.
    “But fascinating,” Y’ang-Yeovil murmured.
    “There’s got to be more to life than just living,” Foyle said to the robot.
    “Then find it for yourself, sir. Don’t ask the world to stop moving because you have doubts.”
    “Why can’t we all move forward together?”
    “Because you’re all different. You’re not lemmings. Some must lead, and hope that the rest will follow.”
    “Who leads?”
    “The men who must … driven men, compelled men.”
    “Freak men.”
    “You’re all freaks, sir. But you always have been freaks. Life is a freak. That’s its hope and glory.”
    “Thank you very much.”
    “My pleasure, sir.”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 251).
  • Millions for defense, but not one cent for survival.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 253).
  • “Damn you!" Dagenham raged, “Don’t you realize that you can’t trust people? They don’t know enough for their own good.”
    “Then let them learn or die. We’re all in this together. Let’s live or die together.”
    • Chapter 16 (pp. 254-255).

The Men Who Murdered Mohammed (1958)[edit]

  • Now, these men weren’t idiots. They were geniuses who paid a high price for their genius because the rest of their thinking was other-world. A genius is someone who travels to truth by an unexpected path. Unfortunately, unexpected paths lead to disaster in everyday life.

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