The Computer Connection by Alfred Bester


Science Fiction

The computer connection The Computer ConnectionAlfred Bester; iBooks 2000WorldCatIt is a little known fact that sudden, catastrophic trauma at the time death can instead cause virtual immortality. Ask Ned Curzon. He was the only person on Krakatoa when the volcano erupted. According to the theory, the trauma blows out all the aging genes, leaving the rest cleansed and self perpetuating. Anyway, it’s a couple hundred years later and he looks the age he did when he died. He belongs to a group of immortals.

These people all have nick names to go with their hobbies. Ned’s is Grand Guignol, Guig for short. He kills people in gory or traumatic ways. He is trying to recruit more great minds to the Group. So far he has failed in all his attempts. He has a new target – Dr. Sequoya Guess, a genius physicist. Guig is more successful than he could have imagined.

Not only does Dr. Guess, the Chief, die and rebirth; he returns with an addition. The world’s largest computer, Extro, has integrated into Chief’s mind. His reach extends around the world. Extro, using the Chief, is taking control everywhere. The Group is trying to separate the two.

The Group has another problem. Someone is killing them off. While they don’t die of old age, a stab in the heart, slicing of the neck, or other gross attack on the physical body can kill them. They are sure it’s one of the members of the group. Who? Many hold grudges towards others. But who would want to kill them?

The Computer Connection is definitely science fiction from the 1970’s. It promotes the same freedom of self expression – i.e. lounging at home with friends, all naked and not caring. Guig narrates this novel and does it in a free and easy manner. The book races, irreverent at times, a bit silly at times, and at times incomprehensible.

Alfred Bester uses a future lingo in some of Guig’s conversations, but then Guig translates it into his favored language, 20th century English. The Computer Connection races around yet has a solid underlying story with the man/computer connection. The Extro computer has some blind spots for Guig and his friends to exploit. Bester sets up a fantastic situation and gives a plausible conclusion.

The extra prong of the story is not strong. The person who is killing off the group is revealed. It doesn’t make much sense, though. It feels like filler to keep the story going.

The Computer Connection is a classic example of standard science fiction in the 1970’s. That was a time of shifting from the space operas of the 1950’s and 1960’s into grittier novels. Eventually that shift led to the cyberpunk science fiction that started in the 1980’s. While this isn’t a great book, it gives an entertaining escape and a chance to suspend belief.

Notice:  Suggestive dialogue or situations

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