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The Stars My Destination Paperback – July 2, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 505 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When it comes to pop culture, Alfred Bester (1913-1987) is something of an unsung hero. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath). But Bester is best known for his science-fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. First published in 1956 (as Tiger! Tiger!), the novel revolves around a hero named Gulliver Foyle, who teleports himself out of a tight spot and creates a great deal of consternation in the process. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for forty years. (Bester fans should also note that Vintage has reprinted The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award in 1953.)

About the Author

ALFRED BESTER was born in 1913. His fiction career included writing for the pulp magazines, comics, radio, and television. His extraordinary book, The Demolished Man, was the first winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel and was followed by the brilliant novels The Stars My Destination, The Computer Connection, Golem100, and The Deceivers, and numerous short stories. Bester was honored by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America with a Grandmaster Award. He died in 1987. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 2, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679767800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679767800
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (505 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryk E. Spoor on October 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
Capsule Description: Proto-Cyberpunkish dark future with some unique twists, a flawed and driven protagonist, and gripping action. On my Top Ten list. Read it. Buy it. Buy two and give one to a friend.
Review: Alfred Bester is generally recognized as one of the greatest writers of SF, especially on the strength of his plots and prose style. He made his reputation on short stories, but is best remembered for two novels: The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination (sometimes known as "Tiger! Tiger!" in the UK). First published in 1956, The Stars My Destination anticipated many of the staples of the later cyberpunk movement -- the megacorporations as powerful as the governments, body and mind redesign to specs, the dark overall nature of the world, even the cybernetic enhancement of the body. To this it added the standard "one wierd idea" of SF -- that human beings could learn to teleport, or "jaunte" from point to point, with various personal limitations but one overall absolute limit: no one could bridge the gap between a planet and anywhere in outer space. On the surface of a planet, the jaunte ruled supreme; off of it, mankind was still restricted to machinery. In this future world -- extrapolated with convincing and sometimes frightening accuracy by Bester -- we are introduced to the protagonist, Gulliver ("Gully") Foyle: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead..." Foyle is a former nobody, a man who had lots of potential but never had to use it, completely lazy, doing the minimum he could to get by, who is suddenly marooned in space with no escape. Even this isn't enough to motivate him beyond trying to find air and food on the wreck; he hasn't learned enough to know it's possible to FIND a way out of his situation.
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Format: Paperback
Having read a great deal of Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, I was quite taken aback by the very different style and tone of Alfred Bester. It was harsh, dirty, and his characters were more than a little mean. He provides a sharp contrast to Bradbury and Asimov, that much is certain. While he's close in action style to Heinlein, Bester's protagonist, Gulliver Foyle, seems absolutely unpredictable and terrifying--something I cannot really say about a Heinlein hero, anti-hero, or villain.
We start by finding our man Foyle near-death in a starship that has been cast adrift in space. As this not-too-bright crewman struggles to survive, a ship approaches that could help him. However, it doesn't. Instead, it flies away. The rest of the book consists of Foyle's angry, obsessed quest to get revenge upon that ship and the people who own it. We encounter telepathy and "jaunting" (instantaneous travel through the power of the mind--a mixture of telepathy with a Star Trek transporter). We find robber barons, three-ring circuses, violence. Bester does not apologize for the violence in his story (unlike some fiction today), he is writing a straight adventure story, with all the pitfalls and danger and violence that come with it. This is "guys' sci-fi" writ large. If the ending had been resolved a little more realistically, it would have been perfect. That said, buy it anyway.
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Format: Paperback
_The Stars My Destination_ is one of the best novels I have ever read. It's so good that the first time I read it, I was overwhelmed by the number of amazing ideas and action-packed scenes filled in the book. Gully Foyle is one of the most wonderfully ruthless and tortured protagonists ever to be written. And the novel has no limits to its sense of depth and imagination; jaunting across Earth, Foyle's quest for revenge against Vorga, the number of interesting and unique characters Bester created, as well as his wonderful experiments in elaborate prose manipulation...this book is the very definition of compelling. About the only flaw I can say that the novel has is that some of the references are a bit dated from the 50's. But it's still so fresh and innovative that it makes a lot of today's SF novels seem dated. And it has influenced thousands of other writers, myself included. Along with this book, there's Bester's _The Demolished Man_. Another great book that shouldn't be missed.
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That this book is over 45 years old and still an "underground" classic is a travesty.
This author perfected the concept of world building before the phrase was coined. Bester visualized a future three hundred years from now that will be demolished and reconstructed by humanity's discovery of a talent for teleportation (jaunting). His insights into how this one factor has affected every level of our society are so fresh and well thought out that my preconceived notions about early sci fi writers being quaint and naiive have been permanently obliterated.
If, like me, you also expect the characters and dialog to reflect a '50's cliche, you will be shamed. Our so-called hero is every bit the foul-mouthed, amoral neanderthal from the beginning, when he is pushed to stretch his mental powers in order to survive abandonment in deep space. From there on, he uses everything and everyone in his quest for vengeance, which necessitates his surface transformation into an educated, civilized man -- indeed, only his language really cleans up. The other characters are also revealed one by one to be ruthless and driven, once they have been crossed or betrayed by Gully Foyle. Bester draws a chilling, fascinating portrait of human nature that is sharpened by dystopia.
For all these admittedly dark and depressing themes, this novel avoids melancholy or bleakness. The pervading feeling is strangely light and hopeful, the people oddly likeable. At the last fifty pages or so, we find plot twists that cause us to question and reevaluate our assumptions once again.
In all, The Stars My Destination was so well conceived that I can only marvel at the distinct lack of copycat authors in ensuing decades. Perhaps Bester is in such a class of his own that the rest of the sci fi genre intuitively shys away from mimicry. Bravo, well done.
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