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The Stars My Destination (1956)

by Alfred Bester

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,2571751,532 (3.99)2 / 332
Marooned in outer space after an attack on his ship, Nomad, Gulliver Foyle lives to obsessively pursue the crew of a rescue vessel that had intended to leave him to die. When it comes to pop culture, Alfred Bester (1913-1987) is something of an unsung hero. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath). But Bester is best known for his science fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for over fifty years.… (more)
  1. 160
    The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (timspalding)
    timspalding: The rest of Bester isn't very good. These two are great.
  2. 70
    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père (sturlington)
    sturlington: Inspired The Stars My Destination.
  3. 41
    Ubik by Philip K. Dick (falls)
  4. 31
    Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks (EatSleepChuck)
  5. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)
  6. 00
    Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch (Anonymous user)
  7. 00
    Fury by Henry Kuttner (NerdyBookingham)
  8. 04
    The Stars' Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry (pnorth)
    pnorth: Another book based on The Count of Monte Cristo but closer to the original than Bester's.
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» See also 332 mentions

English (171)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)
This was a mixed bag for me.

First the good things. This is an action psychedelic story that I would (to be honest) expect from Philip K Dick. Story is set in far future where humans have evolved in a way they are capable of physically jaunting - jumping to remote location using mere thought. This transformed the entire world in a way that for example actual locations of buildings are no longer relevant so buildings just pop up wherever builders want it. With this you would think that society is also advanced, right? Well, it is not. World is pretty much the same. Corporations are de facto rulers of the world and those that do not fit are left wandering space in hippy-like communes, left alone until they find themselves on the path of corpo's. Rich and influential enjoy in the old technology (hipsters anyone?) because jaunting and entire moderna is soooo boring. Of course they use every means of protection available (personal armies and armed ships) but they like to enjoy in the sophisticated things of the past. This is also time where soldiers and mercenaries get sub-dermal enhancements, cybernetic implants and get hypno-therapy conditioning to act as sleeping agents. People are very deadly in this future and depending on the situation sleeping agents are all around just waiting for key words to get triggered (Treadstone anyone?). So as you can see this is very rich world, miles away from our own and yet so close and familiar. People still hunger for power and they are ready to do anything to rule over others.

Now the weird. Main character, Gully Foyle is a complete anachronism in his time. In all honesty he would be anachronism in any time outside the early Medieval times. He is so low in society that he is basically just barely alive. No initiative, no ambition, nothing but sheer physical strength but even this is powered down that for everyone else Gully is a person so bland and unremarkable that you would not give him any notice, shadow, grey man. Stuck doing a very arduous job he gets fired up by that ancient, ever present and potent force - thirst for revenge. This most base force will force him to change, to improve himself and bring his vengeance to people responsible. Foyle's very evolution from a drag of society to becoming "illuminated" human, maybe first of many to follow, trailblazer, is what the book is actually about. Foyle does some horrible things, leaves his friends behind, does not care what happens to others as long they are useful for him. But he evolves and becomes better, he transcends his limitations and finally manages to see the future, what in Dune would be called the Golden Path. Now some would find this offending (in this age of never forget and Foyle truly has a record) but last few pages of the novel are very interesting. Should majority be treated like kids and mindless mob by the selected few (kinds sounds contemporary, right?) or left to chose its own path, provided with enough knowledge and facts (now this sounds like utopia, right? imagine world without all the media houses serving the news :) toouuuggghh). Is the future of mankind actual merge of savage and knowledge, man that goes (in a similar way as his biological changes before and after birth) through entire cycle of his social development - from aggressive, barely speaking savage to illuminated human.

And now the not so good. I wont say bad because of the fact that this is 1950's book and majority of SF from that time is inspired by hallucinogenics and drugs and all works from that time in history have that trippy feeling. To say that story line is basically a collection of several story lines running in very weird relative directions is to say the least. Story holes become so obvious at time that characters are unrecognizable just going from one page to next. There is no transition, no interlude, nothing just wham, X is now completely different person. If you are persistent person this can be easily overcome but for others this will be a rather difficult book to read. Weirdly though story is rather fluid even with this structure. Author truly knows how to write.

All in all very interesting book, that raises some of the old (and eternal) questions on how should humanity move forward. Whether we like it or not we come across these even today (this year especially).

Recommended to all fans of SF and revenge stories. ( )
  Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |
Not a very high brow book, but a good read nevertheless. The book is so strange and unnatural. All elements of the plot are ridiculous and a lot of the dialogue, especially the romance, is weak. Everything just sort of worked.
Will definitely consider reading Bester again. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
I read it in my school years. And it was crazy. And remains like this just trying to remember it. I can safely say that this book set a certain standard in world craziness from which I measure every other such book. It just came to me crushing and smashing every perspective on world and what can be done to change it. Good or bad... I don't know and don't remember.

Maybe I re-read it one day, maybe not. But I sure never forget it. ( )
  WorkLastDay | Dec 17, 2023 |
Read this some years ago and can't really remember it, but my notes at the time say "didn't like it, didn't like the characters, especially the protagonist". ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
I intensely disliked main character, Gulliver Foyle, as an individual and really wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading, but about a third through I started thinking of him as a personification of the struggle of the lumpenproletariat to achieve class consciousness, and that seemed to work for me, though I wasn't sure if that was Bester's intention. Ultimately, it did work that way for me, and the story is, if imperfectly, a dramatised sci-fi setting of Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the "cosmic" ending symbolising Foyle's awakening to his potential as a revolutionary liberationist figurehead. It was worth sticking with.

A couple of the names struck me as being symbolic, though I'm struggling to fully integrate them, so maybe I'm pareidolically seeing what's not there:

• Gulliver Foyle - Gullible Foil - Gullible Fool
• Presteign - Pristine - Prestige - Priest-Stain ( )
2 vote Michael.Rimmer | Nov 12, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 171 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (86 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bester, Alfredprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aldridge, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bing, JonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bringsværd, Tor ÅgeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, Tor EdvinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doyle, GerardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horen, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sleight, GrahamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stege, GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame they fearful symmetry?
~ Blake
Dedication
To Truman M. Talley
First words
This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure rich living and hard dying . . . but nobody thought so.
~ Prologue
He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead.
Quotations
He was Gully Foyle, the oiler, wiper, bunkerman; too easy for trouble, too slow for fun, too empty for friendship, too lazy for love.
"Vorga, I kill you filthy."
It was an age of freaks, monsters, and grotesques. All the world was misshapen in marvelous and malevolent ways.
Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place,
The stars my destination.
The man who upsets the morphology of society is a cancer. The man who gives his own decisions priority over society is a criminal. But there are chain reactions. Purging yourself with punishment isn't enough. Everything's got to be set right.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Bester's original title, first published in the UK on 14th June 1956, was Tiger! Tiger! (a reference to the Blake poem, The Tyger). In the USA, it was first serialised across several editions of Galaxy magazine as The Stars My Destination, starting in the October 1956 issue.
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Blurbers
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Marooned in outer space after an attack on his ship, Nomad, Gulliver Foyle lives to obsessively pursue the crew of a rescue vessel that had intended to leave him to die. When it comes to pop culture, Alfred Bester (1913-1987) is something of an unsung hero. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath). But Bester is best known for his science fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for over fifty years.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
In a future where humans have learned how to teleport, provided they have previously physically seen their destination, Gully Foyle's is marooned in space, and he becomes obsessed with getting revenge after another spaceship passes him by.
Haiku summary
Don't mess with Gully.
He'll do whatever it takes
To fuck you over.

(Carnophile)

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