978-0-7278-0996-4 / 9780727809964

The deceivers


Publisher:Severn House [1984], [London]



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About the book:

Way back in the 1950s, Alfred Bester established himself as one of the greats of SF with a number of dazzling short stories and two major novels: The Demolished Man (1953) and The Stars My Destination (1956, also known as Tiger! Tiger!), both much reprinted. The Deceivers, his final SF novel, appeared in 1981.

It's a colourful, whimsical romp that plays entertainingly with themes from Bester's peak years, though without his old driving, compelling savagery. Hero Rogue Winter is a "Synergist", acutely sensitive to the world's patterns: in one set-piece sequence he follows an intuitive trail from 12 drummers drumming in a street parade, to the goal of a (metaphorical) partridge in a pear tree. Winter is also heir-apparent to the Maori Mafia which controls much of the Solar System's crime, but must single-handedly battle the dread mammoths of Ganymede to earn his crown, and meanwhile has fallen helplessly in love with a sexy non-human shapeshifter from Titan, making him vulnerable to minions of the insidious Manchu Duke of Death who plans to smash the syndicate that's smuggling the priceless miracle fuel Meta from the heavily defended mines of Saturn's Chinese/Japanese-dominated moon Triton...

Bester crams this wild farrago of a narrative with wisecracks, junk science, circus glamour, odd catchphrases, bits of self-conscious cleverness and excess, Chinese esoterica like the Mirror-and-Listen Mystery, and his trademark typographic tricks. Amusing candyfloss nonsense; quite readable, but definitely not in the same league as his 1950s classics. --David Langford

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