Top critical review
Half brilliant, half rehash
on December 31, 2001
"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.