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5.0 out of 5 stars ... is filthy death for us
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...
Published on May 29 2004 by doomsdayer520

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Half brilliant, half rehash
"The Stars My Destination" is, at its heart, a fusion of two dissimilar stories. It's Fifties scifi written in the shadow of the H-Bomb, colliding with "The Count of Monte Cristo." Bester does a pretty decent job on both aspects.
The novel's best feature is Bester's ability to spin out the consequences of something monumental, like easy...
Published on Dec 31 2001


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5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books that change your life forever., Jan. 4 2002
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
My first experience with The Stars My Destination was when I was only 13 and at that time I read its Russian translation (I only recently began to learn English language). Since then, I consider it to be the best SF novel there is.
From its explosive begining, TSMD captured me with its amazing scenery, unusual - yet so closely familiar - protagonist and fresh writing style that characterize Bester's works. I won't go into details of TSMD's depth in terms of revolutionary but probable ideas, masterfully balanced pace, brilliant storyline, etc. They are all there, and some. All those elements, however are present in a number of other SF novels, yet I mark TSMD as the best one.
What makes Bester's masterpiece so special is the growth of the novel's protagonist. Starting as a mindless creature and through trial and error (as well as occasional twist of fate), Gully moves through the "evolutionary stages," eventually surpassing even the wildest expectations the reader might delevelop over the course of reading this novel. Depiction of Gully's "human" nature in all its perversion is simply brilliant. I can't believe 1950's public allowed that! But then making him use every conceivable method to fight that nature of his, bring it under control, it's really astonishing.
The buttom line: TSMD will be more than just a novel for many readers (myself included). It's a guide (perhaps somewhat sick and twisted, but still a guide) of how to change your life and pursue your goals, no matter the obstacle.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Half brilliant, half rehash, Dec 31 2001
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
"The Stars My Destination" is, at its heart, a fusion of two dissimilar stories. It's Fifties scifi written in the shadow of the H-Bomb, colliding with "The Count of Monte Cristo." Bester does a pretty decent job on both aspects.
The novel's best feature is Bester's ability to spin out the consequences of something monumental, like easy teleportation. He thought these changes through and presented them well, although some "futuristic" elements of the story seem gratuitous, added in just to generate a sense of difference from the real world.
The "Monte Cristo" storyline is handled well enough, but he muddles it with a messianic ending and other unrelated jazz. There's a clumsy plot device about the twenty-fifth century equivalent of the atomic bomb and a "Jesus of the Spacemen" ending that comes from nowhere. Another outsider to bring wisdom and enlightenment to all of the Earthbound boobies, showing us our true potential? -sigh- Again? At least that part is kept short. The revenge storyline takes up the bulk of the book.
The characters are decently rendered, although it's bizarre how the women fall in love with the male characters so fast. Most all of the romances in the novel seemed arbitrary. One impressive thing was to see how the main character actually changed over the course of the book. Granted this change was cribbed from "Monte Cristo," but it works.
It's a fun book and a worthy SF read, but it ain't a classic for the ages. I say check it out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gully Foyle, Nov. 28 2001
By 
H. Steinsson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
Over the last few years I've read loads of science fiction, from "Battlefield Earth" to "Dune" and everything I could find in between. What I love about science fiction are the inspired ideas you find in it and the boundless freedom the writer has in expressing them. "The Stars My Destination" may not be a literary masterpiece: there are chapters in it that are-at best-arguable, however at it's best it is one of the best books ( not just science fiction ) that I've read.
The protagonist Gully Foyle takes you on a rollercoaster ride around our solar system and although he starts out as a thorougly despicable person, he manages to get under your skin so that in the end you can't help but feel sorry for him. A friend of mine pointed out that there are alot of other cool characters in it like: Saul Dagenham, Prestige of Prestige and Jizibel. None of them comes close to Gully in my opinion, he made such an impression that he's about as easily forgotten as Myshkin and Raskolnikoff in Dostoyevski's masterpieces.
I'm usually pretty sceptical of these reviews that give 5 stars, I've had some bad buys here because of them. I'm not going to say that it's a book for everyone, but I'm pretty sure if you like excitement, intrigue, mystery and drama you'll love this book. I, for one, will never forget that opening scene "Vorga, I kill you filthy".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still mind-blowing after all these years, Nov. 14 2001
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
I came to Alfred Bester's oeuvre long after he died, and when most sci-fi readers thought that Frank Hebert's Dune was the be-all and end-all of all science fiction. (I am not dissing Dune here -- that book remains the definitive example of what critics mean by "worldbuilding" and is a must-read in its own right.)
But The Stars My Destination is something completely other. What I mean is, the writing is crisp. Unlike Clarke and Asimov, Bester's Gully Foyle doesn't explain, he DOES. In fact, that is what makes Gully Foyle so special, both as a character in a fictional novel, and as the main character in Bester's fast-paced story. Gully, with all his anger and violence and baser instincts, manages to become a groundbreaker because he is not hampered by conscience or intellectualism. Gully does everything from the gut -- the personification of what it means to have a "fire in the belly." Consequently, nothing he does is boring. Gully will keep you on the edge of your seat, hungering for what's next. That's what makes this book so compelling, and keeps it compelling nearly fifty years after it was written. We believe Bester's vision because it is not based on airy-fairy, overthought "what-if" concepts that have plagued science fiction writers from the beginning. Bester's vision draws from our animal instincts, those parts of us we just can't seem to think away. It's a breath of fresh air, even today.
Maybe that's why some of today's most innovative writers cite to Bester's work, and this book particularly, as a key influence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still mind-blowing after all these years, Nov. 14 2001
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
I came to Alfred Bester's oeuvre long after he died, and when most sci-fi readers thought that Frank Hebert's Dune was the be-all and end-all of all science fiction. (I am not dissing Dune here -- that book remains the definitive example of what critics mean by "worldbuilding" and is a must-read in its own right.)
But The Stars My Destination is something completely other. What I mean is, the writing is crisp. Unlike Clarke and Asimov, Bester's Gully Foyle doesn't explain, he DOES. In fact, that is what makes Gully Foyle so special, both as a character in a fictional novel, and as the main character in Bester's fast-paced story. Gully, with all his anger and violence and baser instincts, manages to become a groundbreaker because he is not hampered by conscience or intellectualism. Gully does everything from the gut -- the personification of what it means to have a "fire in the belly." Consequently, nothing he does is boring. Gully will keep you on the edge of your seat, hungering for what's next. That's what makes this book so compelling, and keeps it compelling nearly fifty years after it was written. We believe Bester's vision because it is not based on airy-fairy, overthought "what-if" concepts that have plagued science fiction writers from the beginning. Bester's vision draws from our animal instincts, those parts of us we just can't seem to think away. It's a breath of fresh air, even today.
Maybe that's why some of today's most innovative writers cite to Bester's work, and this book particularly, as a key influence.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Up Into the Sky, Sept. 19 2001
By 
Brian Lin (Detriot, MI USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
My first impression of the book The Stars My Destination was quite a confused one. The book, being science fiction, used many terms that are not known to the modern world. For example, "gutter slang" was used throughout the book, supposedly the way people of the lower classes communicated. However, it was quite difficult to comprehend and one would have to read the passages several times to understand the real "gist" of it. The characters in the novel, in my opinion, were very creatively chosen in respect to their personalities and actions. All the characters possess different types of personalities, all of which we see in the modern world. The author portrays the way the people react to one another's actions quite well, for in the plot comes many conflicts, which are solved in ways many people would not expect.
The best qualities of the book are the story line and the way conflicts were solved in the story. The story line was action filled and refreshing, allowing the reader to both analyze situations and enjoy a well-written plot at the same time. Furthermore, the story line does not "go with the flow" of many of the story lines of other works, and therefore adds a sensation of mystery and curiosity for the reader, and making it hard for them to "put the book down" in the middle of the novel. The way conflicts are resolved in the novel are also quite puzzling and yet refreshing for the mind. Unlike most novels, The Stars My Destination includes many conflicts that are not necessarily "resolved" completely, which is what one would see in the world today. Therefore, the book pertains to the living styles or human nature rather than the "dreamsville" we all long to live in.
The one thing that makes this plot hard to understand is the "gutter language" used throughout the novel. The main character, Gulliver Foyle, comes from the dregs of society, and therefore speaks gutter lingo, which is not at all grammatically correct or flowing, and in turn makes it hard for the reader to comprehend what he is trying to say at times. On the other hand, the language is very fitting due to the fact that Gulliver is uneducated and supposedly of a lazy nature. So in essence, the language chosen would be the best choice, however confusing the language might seem.
In whole, I believe that the novel, The Stars My Destination was very well written. If you enjoy adventurous plots and have a widespread imagination, The Stars My Destination is a great book for you.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars My Destination, Aug. 12 2001
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
I bought this book as a recommendation, based on the glowing reviews of this seminal classic work. This work is a classic in the sense that it is, indeed, old. Published in 1956, it provides an interesting insight into what fifties pulp authors thought the future might bring. Unfortunately, the only genuine insight I found in the entire novel is the potential impact of teleportation and telepathy.
The characters seem to be one-dimensional creatures lifted bodily (but soullessly) from Ayn Rand--Evil money-grubbers and totalitarians bested by heroic, animalistic savage-...-philosopher. The plot is jerky and difficult, with a sensual/sexual violence and misogynistic bend often found in fifties pulp sci-fi. The Eisenhower Era obsession with The Bomb surfaces here with a new interplanetary, elementary ultra-weapon called PyrE, but that potentially fascinating plot thread is treated with the now-mundane Cold War “Mutually Assured Destruction” attitude and otherwise abandoned. The ending is reminiscent of third-season Star Trek, “then he teleported to the future, got the answers and gave everyone the clue they could use to save the universe--if only they listen.” Bah.
This book is, I’m sure, fascinating to sci-fi archeologists, trowelling through the detritus of the dawn of Science Fiction, looking for the prototypes and seeds that grew into the thriving culture we see today. Unfortunately, all of the themes in this book have been done, and done better, even by Bester’s contemporaries. Remember that this man wrote in the time of Giants: Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, Rand, and others. This book is acceptable reading, but to put in the “classic” category of the great early sci-fi writers is simply unwarranted. Two stars for good writing style and true (if shallow) characters.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, June 22 2001
By 
Scott Janssens (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
Many people have told me that this novel is the greatest sf novel ever written. This novel was written in 1956 when the standards of sf literature were different. I can see how in its day this was a groundbreaking novel. It was the first cyberpunk novel and it's influence on the sf genre is obvious. While I can appreciate that, any great novel should be able to stand the test of time. I don't just mean the science, that can be overlooked (and scientific advancement has not been kind to this book). It is well written apart from the occasional infodump and the plot is fairly tight.
However, certain surprises felt cheap to me. Kind of like a mystery where it's impossible for the reader to guess the outcome ahead of time because there were no clues given to form a hypothesis. The characters are shallow, their motivations suspect and there are a some glaring logic flaws. One character is motivated to destroy as many people as they can because of a disability even though millions have had that disability before and got along just fine. The inner planets can't attack the outter satellites because their secret weapon is missing, even though the outer satellites have no problem attacking the inner planets several times with conventional weapons.
Reviewing by today's standards I give this novel 2 stars. It is an enjoyable read and its influences on the genre are many. But compared to contemporary sf, I find it a little lacking. If you are a big fan of golden age sf or of Burroughs you will probably enjoy this more than I did.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Inventive, colorful and flawed, May 22 2001
By 
BrainDrain (Oshkosh, WI USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
In this innovative 1956 novel, Alfred Bester laid the groundwork for cyberpunk. He made use of biological, biomechanical and psychological angles which were rarely seen or entirely absent in contemporaneous sf. The science is of course a bit dated and in some cases actually wrong; nontheless, it was an impressive step forward in its time.
Bester did a reasonable job of trying to envision the impact of his central concept, i.e. 'What if people could travel by telekinesis?' Indeed, he took the unusual step of beginning with a prologue explaining how this 'jaunting' came about. He thus brings us up to speed quickly, albeit at the risk of boring us with several pages of raw exposition. Unfortunately, in this novel and so many other sf works, the whole 'What if?' question proves to be a terribly simplistic way to posit an entire future society, and on even a cursory inspection it fails to hold up or even to maintain its own internal logic. The quasi-Victorian treatment of women is especially rankling to modern sensibilities and fails to make much sense even in the book's structure.
The novel is cleanly written and tightly plotted, but lacks anything that resembles nuanced characterization. A revenge motive and event narration are what you get. Bester has a good ear for dialog and comes on tougher than than you'd expect for a '50s sf novel. This makes the book seem a bit more sophisticated than it actually is.
The novel contains a good deal of lightweight corporate and political satire, and the political view expressed at the end seems incredibly naive.
On its merits, this is a tightly-plotted space opera with a breathless pace, innovative technical gimmickry, shallow characterization and second-rate political satire.
This is also a tale of transcendence, of a supposedly 'common man' who ends up changing the world. Alas, in sf, even writers who seem willing to elevate the 'common man' from his usual position of contempt are unable to let him *be* a common man. The journey of Gully Foyle from low-life spacer to self-educated world-changer rings hollow because it's just a few steps short of the scientifically-induced change in "Flowers For Algernon".
In short, I feel this novel is a good light read. Its actual quality has been wildly overrated, but I do recognize its historical significance. Cyberpunk and a scene in "2001:A Space Odyssey" demonstrate this significance well enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jaunt out and get this book!, March 24 2001
By 
L. Feld "lowkell" (Arlington, VA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Stars My Destination (Paperback)
As with other top-notch works of science fiction, "The Stars My Destination" is filled with insightful social commentary and psychological insight, is powerfully written, tremendously imaginative, audacious, exciting (I couldn't put it down and finished it in 3 hours), even very funny at times (i.e., the parody of scientific notation - "quant suff" for "sufficient quantity," the round-the-clock New Years' Eve parties and the amusing/pathetic spectacle of rich people desperately seeking a thrill!). All in all, an amazing feat by Alfred Bester, who wrote this book in the 1950s, wrote relatively little else, and died in 1987 a relative unknown outside sci-fi circles.
In some ways, "The Stars My Destination" is a visionary work, including numerous science fiction elements that have become standard nowadays (in fact almost clichés) but weren't necessarily in the 1950s when this book was written. In fact, I would say that Bester was far ahead of his time in his views on the colonization of the solar system, conflict between Earth and her satellites, the rise in power of massive corporate conglomerates (and the relative shrinking power of the government and national sovereignty), the disruption of an entire economic/political system by a mutant with unusual powers/characteristics (Gulliver Foyle) and/or a rare yet absolutely critical physical substance (PyrE), androids and intelligent robots, issues of mind control, identity, and memory (echoed in works like "Total Recall" and "Blade Runner," among other sci-fi works). Despite the fact that it was written almost 50 years ago, "The Stars My Destination" remains relevant, original, and fresh today - quite and accomplishment for any author!
Major themes of "The Stars My Destination" include: 1) the great power -- both potential and actual -- of our minds, and how in most people this power is sorely underutilized or misused; 2) the different ways of perceiving "reality," and the lengths that some - the very disturbing Skoptsky sect, for instance, which believes in living without any sensation whatsoever, and so has its members submit to an operation which severs their sensory nervous systems - will go to block it out; 3) the concept of "jaunting" - transporting ourselves over great distances (and even through space and time) by harnessing the power of our minds; 4) obsession/monomania; 5) various forms of repression (economic, psychological, social); 6) the "common" man vs. the "aristocracy," 7) issues of privacy, individuality, and freedom; and much more.... The bottom line is that there's a lot of "meat" -- satirical and otherwise -- here to sink your teeth into, besides the intrigue, mystery, and rip-roaring action!
And what a great character Bester has created in Gulliver "Gully" Foyle ...definitely one of the most memorable in science fiction. In less than 200 pages, Gulliver (appropriate name, by the way, reminiscent of Swift's character who, among other things, travels to all kinds of strange destinations and sometimes seems to be a giant next those around him) evolves from a pathetically limited, passive, dull, miserable, wretched, almost sub-human lump of flesh at the beginning of the book to a smart, clever, complex, quasi-godlike creature by the end; from a psychologically "disconnected," violent sociopath consumed by anger and the desire for revenge (a theme borrowed from "The Count of Monte Cristo" and possibly "Moby Dick') into a psychologically complex, mature, resourceful human being with a conscience and evolved sense of ethics; from a nobody to (possibly) mankind's greatest hope for salvation. And, ultimately, Foyle is transformed from someone we look at with scorn and disgust to a heroic figure we admire and even find inspirational!
The bottom line: this is one of the best science fiction books I have ever read, and I am just amazed how little known it (and its author) are, especially compared to far lesser works like "Stranger in a Strange Land," for instance (once again proving that life's not fair!). I'm also amazed that this book hasn't been made into a movie, although given how Hollywood usually screws things up, maybe we should all be grateful for that! :) Anyway, I'm glad that someone (a fellow Amazon.com'er -thanks) recommended this book to me, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you!
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