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The Stars My Destination [Hardcover]

Alfred Bester
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 18 2001 S.F. Masterworks
Gully Foyle, Mechanic's Mate 3rd Class, is the only survivor on his drifting, wrecked spaceship. When another space vessel, the Vorga, ignores his distress flares and sails by, Gully Foyle becomes a man obsessed with revenge. He endures 170 days alone in deep space before finding refuge on the Sargasso Asteroid and then returning to Earth to track down the crew and owners of the Vorga. But, as he works out his murderous grudge, Gully Foyle also uncovers a secret of momentous proportions...

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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. First published in 1956 (as Tiger! Tiger!), the novel revolves around a hero named Gulliver Foyle, who teleports himself out of a tight spot and creates a great deal of consternation in the process. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for forty years. (Bester fans should also note that Vintage has reprinted The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award in 1953.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... is filthy death for us May 29 2004
Among the voluminous piles of predictable spaceships-and-aliens tomes of classic sci-fi, once in a while you'll find an off-kilter underground gem like this. Bester's bizarro novel from 1956 was way ahead of its time, at least in terms of sheer weirdness and cracked feats of the imagination. In this story, Bester has imagined a sci-fi future that is depressingly realistic - the miracles of interplanetary travel have been turned toward corporate profiteering, those who have learned teleportation and telepathy have used them for self-interested and criminal pursuits, and humans are still warring with themselves but now from different planets. This frantic universe and the frenetic story told here are being navigated by a quite strange character named Gully Foyle, whose relentless quest for personal revenge accidentally turns him into the nearly godlike figure that he narcissistically assumed himself to be. Gully's bizarre trips through Bester's strange universe will be matched only by the trippiness in your own brain, as you digest this story that was decades ahead of its time, if only for the very depths of its strangeness. [~doomsdayer520~]
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4.0 out of 5 stars The medium contains the message. Dec 22 2003
Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination (Vintage, 1956)
Considered by many (or so the book jacket tells us) the single finest science fiction novel ever written, The Stars My Destination (also known as Tiger! Tiger! in some parts of the world) is certainly a hefty train ride with a lot of fine sightseeing along the way. The best? I don't know, I'm not much of a science fiction fan. But it worked for me.
The Stars My Destination is the story of Gulliver Foyle, mechanic's mate third class on a ship called the Nomad when we come into the story. Or he was one, because the ship is a wreck, Foyle is the only survivor, and he's rapidly running out of air tanks. He sees a vessel going by him, and risks his life to get to the airless bridge and fire off the safety flares; the ship, called the Vorga, ignores him and goes on its merry way. He vows to stay alive long enough to revenge himself upon the Vorga and its crew, and thus we have ourselves a story.
Gully Foyle is, not to put too fine a point on it, an archetype. (If only more like him existed.) The brilliance of The Stars My Destination is that Bester is able to couch Foyle's archetypal qualities in a great story, showing once again that if you let the art speak, the message you have underlying the art will show through just fine. (Overemphasizing the message has turned innumerable potential works of art into innumerable realized crap.) He bounces around from episode to episode on his quest for revenge, acting, reacting, trying to figure out what to do next, and above all being a three-dimensional character, which far too many archetypes in literature are not. He is surrounded by a cast of other three-dimensional characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest SF novels ever written. Oct. 31 2003
Capsule Description: Proto-Cyberpunkish dark future with some unique twists, a flawed and driven protagonist, and gripping action. On my Top Ten list. Read it. Buy it. Buy two and give one to a friend.
Review: Alfred Bester is generally recognized as one of the greatest writers of SF, especially on the strength of his plots and prose style. He made his reputation on short stories, but is best remembered for two novels: The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination (sometimes known as "Tiger! Tiger!" in the UK). First published in 1956, The Stars My Destination anticipated many of the staples of the later cyberpunk movement -- the megacorporations as powerful as the governments, body and mind redesign to specs, the dark overall nature of the world, even the cybernetic enhancement of the body. To this it added the standard "one wierd idea" of SF -- that human beings could learn to teleport, or "jaunte" from point to point, with various personal limitations but one overall absolute limit: no one could bridge the gap between a planet and anywhere in outer space. On the surface of a planet, the jaunte ruled supreme; off of it, mankind was still restricted to machinery. In this future world -- extrapolated with convincing and sometimes frightening accuracy by Bester -- we are introduced to the protagonist, Gulliver ("Gully") Foyle: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead..." Foyle is a former nobody, a man who had lots of potential but never had to use it, completely lazy, doing the minimum he could to get by, who is suddenly marooned in space with no escape. Even this isn't enough to motivate him beyond trying to find air and food on the wreck; he hasn't learned enough to know it's possible to FIND a way out of his situation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer inspiration Aug. 13 2003
Bester bests the competition. His influence is pretty huge too. On the avant garde side he influenced Moorcock and Delaney both of whom influenced cyberpunk. And on the stodgy old conservative side he influenced Frank Herbert. (Dune can be read as an extension of Bester's ideas in this book.) As for the hard-sf influence, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a direct descendant.
This is the first of the sf double-whammy books. It works on multiple levels. On the surface it's an action story about revenge and its costs. And the action happens at laser speed, blasting out your cranium like solar rays. Peer a little deeper and the novel is about society and the people who make it up. All the characters are archetypes, universally found and recognized. Just a little deeper is the growth of the character Gully Foyle in a manner just like how society has grown over history, from compulsion ("Do it or I'll chop your head off!") to compassion (Welfare states). At its heart, however, this book is about what makes God God and how humans can attain apotheosis. The answer is NOT teleportation. The answer is in the little poem appended to the story by Blake, "Tyger! Tyger!" as an epigram. The hand which created the destructive tiger also created the world. I believe that "message" is not too far from Bakunin. It's not a simple message, because it's paradoxical: to create you must destroy. Which is echoed within the tale with the PyrE superweapon, which creates new universes.
The single flaw of the book is, at 250pp, it reads like it could use a further 100pp to flesh things out in greater detail.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My cousin loved it
Even though it was not the cheapest exemplary of this book on Amazon, I got the book in time for Christmas and that's what matters. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Judith C Fournier
3.0 out of 5 stars The Stars My Degradation - has this tale been told before?
Yup... it's The Count of Monte Cristo. But not a bad facimile - in the same way The Bridges of Maddison County was a copy of Noel Cowards,"Brief Encounter. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2010 by Some Bloke
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work of hope and redemption.
What a great book! And what a stupendous character is Gully Foyle! Brutish, nasty, self-centered, focussed, he hurts anyone and everyone in the drive for his answer: why he was... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by Killer Pooh
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate in SF - It doesn't get any better!!!
Why this hasn't been made into a full length motion picture, I haven't a clue.
And who could star in this awesome epic as our enigmatic hero??? Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004 by Ian Shillington
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better
I thought Asimov was the godfather of sci-fi, and then only recently I discovered Alfred Bester. This book is easily the best sci-fi novel I have read. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by Will Merydith
5.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance and imagination
This is a book of frightening intensity. Bester's imagination was truly boundless. I agree with the writer of the foreword that the original title, "Tiger, Tiger! Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by Pax Ahimsa Gethen
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book with multiple messages!!!
An excellent book that will inspire the reader to pursue his/her dreams whatever they may be. The main message to be learned is that a person must never give up even if everything... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2003 by James Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Bester's Best Book
My favorite Science Fiction book. Read this book and watch an ordinary "dim witted" man turn into a highly intellegent monster. Read more
Published on July 4 2003 by "egj10"
5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge is for dreams, never for reality
Having won the very first Hugo award for best science fiction novel with The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester faced a somewhat daunting task in trying to follow up his unparalleled... Read more
Published on May 29 2003 by Daniel Jolley
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