The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Published by iPicturebooks Books (2011)
Originally published in 1956
Purchased Kindle version for Book Club
Synopsis: In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people “jaunte” a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men – and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable man alive. The Stars My Destination is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledgement master of science fiction.
I want to start by saying that I did not like this book. I have a hard time accepting that this is a classic piece of science fiction. I thought it was well-written but the characters are difficult to accept and tolerate. The overall concepts were very interesting but, once again, the lack of character likability stood in the way of enjoying this book.
The protagonist is Gully Foyle. He begins the story as a very basic, simple man without any ambition. However, once he is left to die aboard his spaceship, he develops a crazed sense of vengeance which would lead him to rape, kill, kidnap, steal and whatever else to avenge his abandonment. I found no redeeming qualities in Gully. He is horrifying. In the end, he apparently reached some kind of new consciousness. I don’t think he deserved it.
His treatment of other humans was truly despicable; especially his treatment of women. Since this book was written in the 1950s, there are no explicit rape scenes. It is implied which can be worse. The one thing that I couldn’t stand was how the women who he raped and mistreated seemed to always want to protect him. I couldn’t fathom it. I did not get how he deserved any type of kindness.
The only decent part of this book was the concept of “jaunting.” I liked how the mind had evolved to the point where humans could travel with a mere thought. However, it was scary that all concepts of privacy had changed. Mr. Bester’s world was a truly disturbing and chaotic place.
I know that there are millions of science fiction fans who love this book. However, I am definitely not one of them.