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The Computer Connection [Paperback]

Alfred Bester
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.95
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Book Description

6 May 2011
Alfred Bester's first science fiction novel since The Stars My Destination was a major event-a fast-moving adventure story set in Earth's future. A band of immortal-as charming a bunch of eccentrics as you'll ever come across-recruit a new member, the brilliant Cherokee physicist Sequoya Guess. Dr. Guess, with group's help, gain control of Extro, the supercomputer that controls all mechanical activity on Earth. They plan to rid Earth of political repression and to further Guess's researches-which may lead to a great leap in human evolution to produce a race of supermen. But Extro takes over Guess instead and turns malevolent. The task of the merry band suddenly becomes a fight in deadly earnest for the future of Earth. .

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: iPicturebooks; New Ed edition (6 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671039016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671039011
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 14.8 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Fresh, witty, and totally original ... developments are clever and quick. Bester writes with wit and energy, and he is unendingly inventive. The treatment of ideas in The Computer Connection is unique, as is its social consciousness and satire".-- Bookletter

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast moving and hugely entertaining 3 May 2002
By A Customer
Although this book isn't as well known or highly regarded as Bester's earlier works, I enjoyed it every bit as much. It was originally published in the UK as 'Extro'.
Much of Alfred Bester's fiction has a strong undercurrent of humour and this is probably the funniest of his novels. The group of immortals around whom the action takes place are a hugely disparate and eccentric collection of individuals, allowing Bester to set up a few thoroughly ludicrous scenes. In this book being immortal isn't all positive, though: you can only become immortal in the first place by surviving massive trauma, and even immortals have something to be afraid of...
For me, the most enjoyable thing about Bester's stories, short and long, is the way he throws ideas around and the speed with which those ideas develop. 'The Computer Connection' is full of ideas and romps along at a terrific pace. Enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Alfred Bester - what a writer! 26 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't realise when I bought this that I had read it as Extro about 30 years ago! I don't keep books and I have really enjoyed reading it again. You need to have a mind that can side-slip to keep up with Bester but what an astounding use of words and ideas (many of which slip in and out of the book as incidental lines or paragraphs). I am going to have to track down his other writings for a re-read now. Now where is "The Demolished Man" . . . . .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars incredibly underrated 18 Mar 2001
By Michael Vanier - Published on
When this book first came out in 1975, it was Alfred Bester's first science fiction novel in twenty years. Bester's first sf novel (The Demolished Man) won the very first Hugo Award for best novel. His second (The Stars My Destination) is so dazzling it leaves TDM in the dust; it's considered by many (including me) to be the finest sf novel ever written, then or now. So you can only imagine the kind of anticipation that this novel generated. The buzz at the time was that it didn't "live up to the greatness of Bester's earlier work". I've even heard it referred to as "third-rate Bester". This is out-and-out balderdash (I'd use a stronger term, but then this review wouldn't get past the censors :-)). This novel doesn't compete with the earlier novels; it works on its own terms. It's the story of a society of immortals in a very bizarre future indeed, and their struggle against a computer which wants to take over the world. What impressed me most of all is that Bester's trademark "pyrotechnic" style hadn't been diluted at all in the twenty years since he wrote TSMD; if anything, this book is even more outlandish (a case in point: its characters speak a weird mishmash of languages of which twentieth century English, or "XX" as its known, is one of about ten). Bester's usual theme of man becoming superman is here again as well, but in a totally different setting. This story doesn't take itself as deadly seriously as TDM or TSMD, which may account for the lukewarm reception it received. Despite this, it's a thoroughly satisfying read that is miles ahead of most sf in terms of its imagination, its plot and its humanity.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hot mess of sheer intoxication 2 April 2010
By Zothique - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"I tore down the Continental Shelf off the Bogue Bank while the pogo made periscope hops trying to track me. Endless plains of salt flats (music by Borodin here); mounds of salt where the new breed of prospector was sieving for rare earths; towers of venomous vapors on the eastern horizon where the pumping stations were sucking up more of the Atlantic and extracting deuterium for energy transfer. Most of the fossil fuels were gone; the sea level had been lowered by two feet; progress."

That's just the first paragraph of this completely insane book: breathless, delirious, practically collapsing from lack of oxygen in its rush to fill your head with its wild ideas. Before the first page is over, we've dove down to a secret hideaway under the salt flats to meet a time machine builder who goes by Herb Wells. Before the chapter's out, we'll have learned of Herb's doomed efforts to avert the tragic early deaths of Van Gogh, Mozart and poet Thomas Chatterton, but all that's strictly incidental to the plot. Our hero, such that he is, is Guig, the Grand Guignol, who murders men in failed attempts to make them immortal. The cast also includes Jacy, who you may better know as Christ, Jesus; and Hic-Haec-Hoc, a Neanderthal who's still kicking several millennia past his prime.

The reckless, wild, intoxicating prose, drunk on its own sheer invention, is peppered with obscure cultural references, chemical formulas, snatches of poetry and computer programming, bars of music, and letters to the editor. Any damn thing to get the point across: Bester was post-modern before anyone had a name for it.

And Bester isn't really writing science-fiction here: he's writing free-form experimental futuristic jazz, drenched in psychedelic insanity, bizarre factoids kiting on sheer imagination, riffing on his typewriter to a wild, weird beat that no one else on Earth can hear.

A lot of people dismiss this book saying it's a faint shadow of Bester's more famous novels, THE DEMOLISHED MAN and THE STARS MY DESTINATION. And frankly, they've got a point: those earlier works are more contained and controlled. This thing, frankly? It's kind of a mess. But it's a hot mess, dancing on table tops naked and ignoring all bounds of decent restraint. Later on, the lack of control would overtake the books in the shambling Frankenstein novels like GOLEM100 and THE DECEIVERS, the seams showing in the short stories and fragments Bester was stitching together, unable to maintain the jags of caffeinated energy characterizing his best books. Those later books still have moments of brilliance, but they are less than the sum of their parts. In this book, Bester is still on top of his game -- but maybe just barely.

Time has caught up to Bester's first book, the Hugo-winning THE DEMOLISHED MAN; its wild ideas have been nicked by mass market entertainment and its psychic cops have few surprises for readers. THE STARS MY DESTINATION is still ahead of the curve, and will always represent the peak of Bester's particular brand of magic. But THE COMPUTER CONNECTION is, arguably, his most wild, restless and joyous book. A lot of readers didn't know what to make of it 30+ years ago, and most won't now.

What it is isn't a novel at all, but a drug in ink form meant to be injected directly to the pineal gland.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychedelic Screwball Comedy 15 July 2002
By flying-monkey - Published on
Though the always over-the-top Harlan Ellison does a fantastic job in the introduction of convincing you that this boook is the equal of Bester's greats, 'The Demolished Man' and 'The Stars My Destination', it isn't quite in that class.
Don't let that put you off, however. The Computer Connection packs in more wacky offbeat ideas in a single book than most writers have in a lifetime, and it is all done at a breakneck velocity fast enough to pass the likes of Michael Marshall Smith in the slow lane (and that's no insult to Smith).
The plot revolves around a small and select group of people made immortal through a particularly traumatic death - the narrator was roasted in a volcano, for example. The immortals take identities based on historical figures, which reflect their abilities and interests - there is a Christ, an Indian rajah and so on. Bester's depiction of immortals has only been bettered by Michael Moorcock in 'Dancers at the End of Time'. In seeking to expand their number, they accidently enable a powerful computer, Extro, to take over the candidate, the brilliant Cherokee physicist, Sequoya Guess. Extro then proceeds to use Guess to carry out its plans to rid the world of humans. Not only that, but there appear to be a traitor amongst the immortals themselves.
This review can hardly do any sort of justice to the utterly bizarre world that Bester has created, a world where giant pogo-sticks appear to be a major form of transport. As Ellison says, it's like a classic Hollywood screwball commedy (only forced through a giant psychedelic sieve). The only problem with this kind of commedy is that it is difficult to sustain over novel length, and Bester doesn't quite manage it; the book runs out of steam some time before the end. Still a must-read for any fan of New Wave (or any other) SF.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Fast and Far Ahead of Its Time 9 Feb 2002
By Peter A. Greene - Published on
This is a great piece of SF adventure. It presages cyberpunk and does a better job of creating an underground society of eccentric immortals that The Highlander ever hoped to.
The novel is fast-paced, full of satirical gems, and funny as all get-out. But at the same time, it manages to support themes about technology, human evolution, and love and loyalty that are handled with as much thought and heft as any "serious" work.
The only gripe I've ever had with this book is that it ends way too soon, and in fact is screaming out for sequels that have never come. Not that the plot isn't fully wrapped up-- it's just that you hate to leave the company of these people who are so funny, profound, and warmly human.
This is a must-have book for any SF reader.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a disappointment 24 May 2013
By Adam Goldberg - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this after being blown away by The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man and I was completely underwhelmed by The Computer Connection. Sometimes I feel like Bester tries and fails to channel Vonnegut, which seems particularly timely since Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions were contemporaries of Connection. While Vonnegut feels adroit with unusual structure, I just ended up confused. I feel like a chump judging an author who wrote two of the best pieces of sci-fi I have ever read, but the plot of Connection was weak and a bit old hat. By the mid 70s I dont think the concept of plucky protagonist waging conflict against an all-seeing AI was all that novel, and Bester's characters felt too flat to sympathize with their plight.
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