Tender Loving Rage

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First edition (publ. Tafford)
Cover art by Kent Bash

Tender Loving Rage is a novel by science fiction author Alfred Bester, published posthumously in 1991, four years after Bester's death in 1987. In his 1991 article, "Alfred Bester's Tender Loving Rage" (reprinted in Platt's Loose Canon [2001]), his friend Charles Platt explains that Bester wrote the novel around 1959 using the title Tender Loving Rape. The book went unsold for many years, until Platt (who had read the manuscript much earlier while working at Avon in 1972) persuaded Bester to allow him to get the book published by a small press; Platt suggested the change of title and Bester agreed.

Plot summary[edit]

From Publishers Weekly: "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."

Critical response[edit]

Arthur D. Hlavaty, a former editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction, described it as "a mimetic novel called Tender Loving Rape, which was posthumously published with its title minimally but cleverly emended to the less offensive Tender Loving Rage. It is a hologram of his career: brilliant start to sodden, cranky, incoherent conclusion."[1]

Platt wrote, "No one should assume, from the novel's history, that it was a minor work. Like all of Bester's books, it was ambitious: by turns a picaresque journey, a suspense novel, and a love story (this last being something he had never attempted before). It was also a roman-a-clef."[2]


  1. ^ Hlavaty, Arthur D. "Virtual Unrealities by Alfred Bester". Retrieved October 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ Platt, Charles (2001). Loose Canon. Gilette, NJ: Cosmos Books. p. 86.