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Deadly Relations:
Bester Ascendant (Babylon 5)

by J. Gregory Keyes

ISBN 0345427165 / 9780345427168 / 0-345-42716-5
Publisher Del Rey
Language English
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Book summary

Babylon 5 is a rarity among SF TV series in having a thoroughly worked out future history, even if parts of that history are only hinted at on TV. Which is where this novel comes in. Based on an original outline by series creator J. Michael Straczynski and following Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps, it is the second novel of a trilogy detailing the history of the Psi Corps. Yet it is sufficiently self-contained to be accessible to readers unfamiliar with B5.

The book chronicles the life of the Psi Corps Alfred Bester from boyhood to the dramatic events that will first take him to the eponymous space station. As befits the show, Deadly Relations is complex and well characterized, aware of SF history, and filled with fascinating background detail. J. Gregory Keyes portrays Bester's paradoxical nature: a man haunted and lonely, able to read the thoughts of others, and capable of betraying those closest to him out of a sense of duty to the greater good. A sinister, ruthless figure becomes a sympathetic, almost tragic antihero as the book ranges from Earth to the Beta Colony and Mars.

The fictional Alfred Bester had a real-life namesake who authored several major SF novels. These include the still extraordinary 1953 thriller of murder and psychic detection, to which Deadly Relations pays due homage. If you enjoy B5, try The Demolished Man by the original Alfred Bester. It's a genuine SF classic. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk [via]