book Short story

The unseen blushers by Alfred Bester

The Unseen

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The unseen blushers by Alfred Bester

“The Unseen Blushers” is a science fiction short story written by Alfred Bester, first published in 1951. The story is set in a future where humans have developed the ability to manipulate their own appearance through the use of “fashion masks,” which can alter their facial features and skin color.

The protagonist of the story is a detective named Nick Jago, who is investigating a series of crimes committed by a group of “unseen blushers” – individuals who have altered their appearance so drastically that they are unrecognizable to others. Jago’s investigation takes him into the seedy underworld of a city where fashion masks have become an obsession and a way of life for many.

As Jago delves deeper into the case, he begins to uncover a web of corruption and deceit, with powerful individuals using their ability to manipulate their appearance to gain advantage and control over others. The unseen blushers are revealed to be victims of this system, forced to hide their true identities in order to survive in a society that values superficial beauty above all else.

Bester’s writing is sharp and witty, and he creates a vivid and detailed world that is both imaginative and disturbing. The concept of fashion masks is a fascinating one, and Bester explores the psychological and social implications of a society where appearance is everything.

The character of Nick Jago is a classic noir detective – tough, cynical, and relentless in his pursuit of the truth. His investigation takes him through a variety of colorful and dangerous settings, from seedy nightclubs to high-class fashion shows.

The story also contains a strong element of social commentary, with Bester questioning the values and priorities of a society that places so much emphasis on external appearances. Through the character of Jago and the plight of the unseen blushers, Bester highlights the dangers of a culture that values superficial beauty over substance.

Overall, “The Unseen Blushers” is a well-crafted and thought-provoking story that explores complex themes of identity, appearance, and power. Bester’s writing is both stylish and engaging, and his imaginative vision of a future society is both compelling and unsettling. For fans of science fiction and noir fiction alike, “The Unseen Blushers” is a must-read.


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