- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0575073373
- ISBN-13: 978-0575073371
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.6 x 22.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 458 g
- Average Customer Review: 173 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,708,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Stars My Destination Hardcover
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Samuel R. Delany wrote that this is "considered by many...to be the greatest single SF novel." It tells the story of Gully Foyle, a below-average, nondescript spacehand whose life at 30 is "too easy for trouble, too slow for fun, too empty for friendship and too lazy for love." Then Gully is marooned in space for 170 days, trapped in the equipment locker of a shattered spaceship. When a passing vessel investigates the wreckage and, unthinkably, leaves Gully to die, his life takes on new meaning, setting off a search for vengeance that will alter the world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Alfred Bester's passionate novels of worldly adventure, high intellect, and tremendous verve, The Stars My Destination and the Hugo Award-winning The Demolished Man, established Bester as a science fiction grandmaster, a reputation that was ratified by the Science Fiction Writers of America. He died in 1987. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Foyleï¿½s return trip to earth comes by way of a detour that leaves him branded with the tattoo of a tiger-like mask on his face and the words Nomad tattooed into his forehead. It is this mask (and the interplay it eventually leads him to have with his own emotions) that serves as the central motif of the story. The mask represents the beast in him, the man who kills, rapes, plunders, usurps, and storms his way through life demanding it adapt itself to him rather than vice versa, and he has to learn that brute strength and selfishness will not accomplish his goals. Back on earth, his life is suddenly of great importance, as it turns out there was a very, very precious cargo onboard his ship which the government wants and the company who owns it wants back, deeming it the only thing that can avert defeat in the war between the inner planets and the outer planets. This war follows a total breakdown of all socioeconomic and political foundations caused by the discovery of jaunting. In this future, man can now teleport himself hundreds of miles just by concentrating and willing the move to happen. The technological aspects of Besterï¿½s future world are interesting if not sometimes prophetic, but this story lives and dies with its main character. Foyle is indeed everyman in a sense, and his thoroughly human (albeit sometimes dangerously psychotic) emotions and desires make him accessible to readers of all generations of the past and future.
I was a little surprised by the degree of comedy buried in these pages; while it is generally dark and sometimes meaningfully sarcastic and scathing in its implications, it manages at times to approach hilarity. The story of how jaunting was discovered is a riot. On the whole, this influential novel is a prototypical example of science fiction at its best; good science fiction does not rely on hard science or brilliant technological assumptions. While a story may necessarily be built in the environment of hard science, success depends almost entirely on the strength of the characters and their humanity (be it good or bad); that is the heart of good science fiction, and Alfred Bester understood this perfectly. That is why this novel will be read and studied for years and years to come.
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. ****
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