cover image Tender Loving Rage

Tender Loving Rage

Alfred Bester. Tafford Publishing, Incorporated, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-9623712-4-0

With a title more appropriate to a paperback romance and an author whose reputation was made in an entirely different genre, this posthumous thriller by one of the stellar lights of the golden age of science fiction seems unlikely to find an audience. Although Bester died in 1987, the book seems, in both style and perspective, to have been written well before that, perhaps not too far beyond its late 1950s setting. Beautiful model Julene Krebs attracts the attentions of both a high-powered advertising executive and a prominent research scientist. The two men become friendly as a result of their mutual interest in the girl, and she in turn becomes involved with each. Meanwhile, Bester offers what is presumably intended as satirical commentary on the advertising industry in general and TV commercials in particular, via a stream of embarrassingly awkward conversations and repartee in a variety of settings. There's a threatening, shadowy figure lurking about, as well as intimations of a dark secret in Julene's past, but these matters are so submerged in the plodding story that they seem unimportant--at least until a wild, violent night on Fire Island, N.Y. That's followed by a hurricane, a kidnapping and a thoroughly unbelievable bit of melodrama. In the end, after Bester skirts around an appalling view of rape and its victims, love triumphs over all--sort of. (Oct.)