SIX TYPED LETTERS SIGNED (TLsS) and TWO TYPED NOTES SIGNED (TNsS), all undated [circa late 1970s and early 1980s], without salutations [all to Kirby McCauley except one, to Kay McCauley], all signed either "Alfie B." or "Alfie Bester." The notes are on plain postcards, the letters are on letter-size typing paper, three of them with embossed return address (Ottsville, Pa.) at top. An endearing and amusing file of letters from the author of THE DEMOLISHED MAN (1953) and TIGER! TIGER! (1956), two of the "few genuine classics of genre sf" (Clute and Nicholls, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, p. 113). The letters were written towards the end of his career and reveal a man of warmth, generosity, high spirits, quick temper, and, in his persistent refusal to date any of his letters, a rebellion against convention, trivial in itself but perhaps suggestive of a deeper alienation. Bester, a Jewish kid from New York City, went to the University of Pennsylvania and settled in Bucks County. He began writing sf short stories in his twenties, then worked for DC comics, wrote scripts for radio and TV and edited Holiday magazine for many years. Science fiction occupied only part of his literary career and his best work was done in the 1950s and early 1960s, though some of his stories from both before and after this period are among his best, which is to say, among the best that has been done in the genre. He wrote three other sf novels, two of them (THE COMPUTER CONNECTION and GOLEM-100) with glints of the old genius. (1) TNS, postcard, no salutation, undated. Complaining about the lack of progress from Byron Preiss on a project to turn THE STARS MY DESTINATION (the U.S. title of TIGER! TIGER!) into a comic book. "… this Byron Preiss character has sent me nothing on THE STARS, as he promised. Instead he sent me a copy of his version of the Zelazny stories…I don't at all like what he's done with Zelazny; it's cheap and fifth-rate and we would have rejected it at D-C Comics." Closes with, "They're cleaning my hot water coil with HCl. Little else remains to be told." Fine. (2) TNS, postcard, no salutation, undated but postmarked 10 March 1978. Begins, "Kirby, my beauty, do exactly as you think best with TENDER, LOVING RAPE. You must know by now that I have ample reason for trusting your judgment." This mainstream novel, set in the milieu of New York advertising and television in 1959, was written around 1970 and not published until 1991 (posthumously), under the title TENDER LOVING RAGE. Fine. (3) TLS, half-page, no salutation, dated "Monday…" Complaining about delays in the publication of GOLEM-100, the science fiction novel that Bester considered his best. "Kirby, love, I'm beginning to run out of patience; not with you, never with you, but with S&S, Pocket Books, and Mac Talley…. Quite frankly, I'm ready to tell our locals to go to hell, take off for London, and work with Pan and Nick Webb on the first publication which, God knows, needs a hell of a lot of work." The novel was published by Simon & Schuster in 1980. Faint mailing creases, fine. (4) TLS, half-page, no salutation, undated, to Kirby's sister and fellow-agent Kay Kirby. "Enclosed, the lunatic story about the psychiatric hockshop. You'll see that it's the first of a possible series … but it's so wild that I'm scared and beg you both for a frank, honest and, as my dentist used to say, bruteless appraisal." Closes with brief enumeration of some upcoming tasks, "… have my hair cut for Good Friday, and then back to that goddamn Praying Mantis novel. I kiss your libido…" Several creases at edges, short closed tear at top edge, very good. (5) TLS, half-page, no salutation, dated "28th…" Mentions some business details about the manuscript of TENDER, LOVING RAPE (see item #2 above), then kvetches about the creative turmoil attendant on his writing of GOLEM-100. "It's hell when your demon requires you to top yourself constantly. I keep hoping that another eighty pages of knock-outs and the book will award me the decision." Then it's the cold weather. "We're having another Glacial Epoch down here in Bucks and I have a vision of future scientists discovering my Opel GT frozen like a Mastodon in a bog, probably with me inside it, shopping list in hand. '1100110011! 1100001!' they'll exclaim in the language of the future. 'It still runs!' But they'll never be able to decipher my shopping list. Kisses and pinches …" Faint mailing creases, minor creases at edges, a thin irregular strip of faint darkening along upper left margin, very good or better, overall. (6) TLS, 1 page, no salutation, undated, with return address on sticker attached to lower left corner. Another complaint about the lack of progress made by "this Preiss character" on a project to adapt THE STARS MY DESTINATION to comic book (see item #1 above). "He talks real slick and is full of explanations and excuses…He doesn't have a completed script or even a page and panel outline. He doesn't have anything except a vague thirty pages which, apparently, he sold to some publication….I think he's been trying to sell the book before he starts real work on it…. Thirty pages in fourteen months? Jeez! I do thirty pages, including art, in fourteen days." Asks Kirby for advice on how to handle the situation. "Forgive the long letter but I'm so busy with the completion of GOLEM-100 that I didn't have time to write a short one." Faint mailing creases, fine. (7) TLS, half-page, no salutation, dated "Tuesday, Dec. 5th…" Accepting invitation to speak at an upcoming convention. "You must know by now that my attitude toward conventions is to make myself available at all times for all purposes and for all people. I'm no Robert Heinlein, hiding in austere and megalomaniac seclusion. I'm in the entertainment business. Don't worry about money. I'll pay my own way with pleasure. All you'll have to do is reserve real nitzy [ritzy?] accommodations for me and my redhead, and I'll pick up the tab." Announces that GOLEM-100 should be published by the time of the convention, and that Pocket Books wants to title it, "PSYLOCK." Faint mailing creases and several light creases elsewhere, near fine. (8) TLS, top carbon, half-page, no salutation, but with "my dear Mal" in first sentence [probably to UK editor Malcolm Edwards, with this copy to Kirby McCauley], dated "9th…" Concerning plans for an upcoming convention, SEACON '79 (and complaining about a new electric typewriter). "I do not come to a convention for an ego trip; I come to do the damn best P. R. job that I can…. You may count on me for anything; speeches, panels, moderating, last minute off-the-cuff appearances, stand-ins for scheduled people who've dropped out…. I enjoy chatting privately with my colleagues which is why I've asked you to reserve the damn best suite [available] (see item #7 above)…" Doesn't mind giving "a small bash for selected fans … but you guys will have to provide the booze for them." Faint mailing creases, fine. Kirby McCauley was probably the most important literary agent of horror, fantasy and sf writers in the boom years of the 1970s and 1980s. Overall, the letters are mostly in near fine to fine condition. (#101438).

Price: $2,500.00

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