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. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.
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. And while some of the situations may look all too familiar to readers of cyberpunk (especially the large multinational corporations), don't let that put you off; Bester may have been the single biggest influence on cyberpunk, but he could outwrite the rings of Saturn around most of its practitioners. The multinational corporations in The Stars My Destination are not just big, faceless symbols of evil; the main B.M.C. not only has a name, it also has a face, and its face is one of the novel's main characters. And he's not just some two-dimensional pansy here to advance a knee-jerk anti-establishment position. Thank the lord.
In other words, a whole lot of writers today (if one counts amateurs, I would not hesitate to change that to "most writers today") have a lot to learn about writing from Mr. Bester's fine little novel, not only on constructing characters, but on how to let the art speak the message instead of letting the message crap on the art. (One wishes more artists, especially poets and songwriters, had spent the last half-century learning these lessons.)
Unfortunately, they may also learn that the unbearably stupid typographical tricks Bester resorts to about fifty pages before the end of the novel are okay, too. One wonders what on earth possessed the man to suddenly go from being an intelligent creator of a brilliant novel to being a literate five-year-old with a box of crayons, a few blank walls, and too much time on his hands. But that section of the book only lasts a few pages. You'll get through it quickly.
Must-reading, especially for the artists (including, especially, the writers) in the crowd. ****
And who could star in this awesome epic as our enigmatic hero??? Read more
BUT BY ALL MEANS ORDER THIS BOOK NOW!!!
Bester bests the competition. His influence is pretty huge too. Read more