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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  - Roger Almendarez-jiménez - Goodreads

Written in 1956, this book is a great example of 2nd wave sci-fi because it offers a great critique of society at that time. The book is pretty much a long critique of the cold war and the threat of ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Ben A - Goodreads

Wonderful premise, somewhat pulpy feel to the action and characters and the third act feels like it spins somewhat out of control. Still an entertaining read if you can sidestep some of the problematic elements. Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Brad - Goodreads

Wow. I can see now why this is considered one of the greats of sci-fi. It ought to be required reading for anyone setting out to know the history of the field and what sparked the imagination of so ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Cristian Planas - Goodreads

Science-fiction? Hardly so. More like what would have happened if a pulp writer would have been possessed by the spirit of Friedrich Nietzsche. A novel on the human will and its limits... no, its lack of limits. Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Pamela - Goodreads

There were flashes of Dick-Like brilliance, but not enough to really count. Overall--Meh. Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Osman Welela - Goodreads

I liked this book. It had that space age feel to it like most early scifi books have. Its view of the future is interesting and at times ridiculous. But one of the things I remember clearly is the ... Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - Ryan Dixon - Goodreads

Brilliant. Even the prologue is fantastic to this book. Couldn't put it down! Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - M Hamed - Goodreads

You pigs, you. You rot like pigs, is all. You got the most in you and you use the least. You hear me, You? Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties. All of you. Every you....' Read full review

Review: The Stars My Destination

User Review  - blakeR - Goodreads

It was cool to read the book that contains the namesake for one of Stephen King's better short stories, "The Jaunt." You definitely get the feeling while reading that its influence spans many authors ... Read full review

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