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In his introduction to the book, Neil Gaiman notes that most science fiction, while being about the future, is a product of the times in which it was written. Therefore, most science fiction can be easily dated within the first two pages. Books from the 80s read like Neuromancer, with their despairing cyber-topiae, books from the 50s all sound like Arthur C. Clarke, and books from the 70s have entirely too much sexual subtext.
The Stars My Destination was originally published in 1956, but damned if it feels that way. Probably because so much 50s sci-fi predicted the shiny-jumpsuit future where the biggest problem we face is robot Armageddon. This book, on the other hand, deals realistically with the problems of the future. One of which is the realistic implications of "jaunting," the will-driven teleportation that any normal person should be able to achieve, albeit to different magnitudes. The ability to move yourself up to 1,000 miles with a thought creates a terrible economic and social upheaval, reordering the way that humans have lived ever since we figured out how to fit wheel to axle.
The other element that I likesd was that of the corporate ruling class that runs thoroughout the book. While there is no explicitly shown "lower class," the overarching power of the corporate clans tacitly demands the existance of an impoverished working class, full of ignorant laborers who will just work for their day's pay.
Such is Gully Foyle. He's presented to us in the beginning as a near-animal brute, thinking of only one thing - survival alone in deep space. As it turns out, he's very good at that, and eventually manages to signal a passing spaceship to pick him up. But, when the ship passes him by, his thoughts turn to a new white-hot focus: revenge. And with revenge in mind, it turns out, you can accomplish damn near anything.
The path that Foyle takes is long and complicated, driving him from the highest of high society to the depths of the earth, and at each stage of his quest, he becomes more than he was. Gully Foyle goes from animal to man, and then on to something more....
I tore through this book in a couple of days, and enjoyed most of it very much. Most of it. The ending fell flat for me, though. For the majority of the book, Bester was trying to get us to cheer for this revenge-driven brute, this animal in human flesh who, no matter how well he learns to speak or dress, is still driven by his burning flame of vengeance. In the beginning, in fact, he reminded me a lot of Marv from Sin City - The Hard Goodbye. As we get to the end, though, it seems like Bester felt compelled to throw in some social commentary about the inherent goodness of the masses of humanity and our limitless potential or some other such nonsense. I didn't buy it. Foyle's switch from selfish individual to quasi-messianic superhero seemed really forced. I would have been happier if he'd just killed the people who needed killing and then went off to explore the universe.
Other than that, it was a great book.

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Robin - Goodreads

Well, this is an interesting case. For the first 20 pages I was in. We have a man, Gully Foyle, stranded alone in the wreckage of ship in deep space, barely sustaining himself on cobbled together ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - prcardi - Goodreads

Storyline: 2/5 Characters: 3/5 Writing Style: 2/5 World: 3/5 Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - James - Goodreads

Enjoyable, although pulpier than expected (not a bad thing). Apparently first ever winner of the Hugo (?), and can definitely see the seeds of cyberpunk well-planted here. Would have enjoyed more ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Joshua - Goodreads

Classic Science Fiction in the spirit of Heilein, this is a ripping yarn of travel across space and time, and of self-discovery. Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Michelle - Goodreads Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Anna - Goodreads

Orson Scott Card, Bester kills you ugly. Great science fiction. Intriguing story, fascinating vision of the future (though somewhat of a downer), and well-written characters. I suppose the only reason ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Carisa - Goodreads

I'd like to rate this higher, because there's so about the book that's good, but I'm pretty sure when I think back on it the thing I'm going to remember most is the toxic treatment of its female characters (and the generally awful take on gender politics in general). Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Sam - Goodreads

Eh! Wasn't awful! run of the mill good scifi. Wasn't mind blowing, wasn't bad by any measure though. The characters were interesting enough, it also avoided sexism and stereotypes which can plague otherwise good books from this generation. Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Kyle - Goodreads

Very fun read. Reading it so far removed from the time of publication it's clear how ahead of his Time Bester really was. Read full review

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