To repair the mind of insane artist Jeffrey Halsyon, supernatural being Solon Aquila causes Halsyon to live out various wish fulfillment scenarios — all of which are terribly flawed.
Bester subsequently explained "5,271,009" as being the number of decisions a man must make in his life; as well, the number features in each scenario in some way.
Critic and editor Sherryl Vint has posited that the story might be read as "an analogy for [Bester's] relationship to sf", while Fiona Kelleghan has described Aquila as "a sort of fallen angel".
- Author's Note, in Starcombing, by David Langford, originally published by Wildside Press, 2009
- Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction, by David G. Hartwell; published January 24, 2017, by Macmillan Publishers
- Alfred Bester (1913-87), by Sherryl Vint, in Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (edited by Mark Bould, Andrew Butler, Adam Roberts, and Sherryl Vint; published September 10, 2009, by Routledge
- SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, by Tim Sullivan, in the Washington Post; published November 30, 1997; retrieved October 18, 2018
- Hell's My Destination: Imprisonment in the Works of Alfred Bester, by Fiona Kelleghan, in Science Fiction Studies, #64 = Volume 21, Part 3 = November 1994; archived at DePauw University