The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
This book was recommended to me by a bookstore employee after I mentioned loving The Count of Monte Cristo as the main character in Bester’s novel, Gulliver Foyle, has a similar obsession with revenge as Alexandre Dumas’s, Edmond Dantes after “escaping” a type of prison and for those that left him there. I certainly enjoyed Foyle’s search for revenge, however I loved The Count of Monte Cristo due to the extremely clever and manipulative way Dantes finds his revenge. In Bester’s book, Foyle’s actions are a bit more obvious and unplanned and thus cause a lot of messes so this specific aspect of The Stars My Destination I didn’t find as clever as Alexandre Dumas’s story.
Beyond comparing this book to The Count of Monte Cristo, it also had some similarities to that of Frankenstein but with a monster who can move beyond isolation and bitterness to enlightenment and self-redemption.
It is a very well written book and fantastic science fiction story. I surprisingly hadn’t heard of Alfred Bester even though he is discussed as one of the masters of this genre so I was pleasantly surprised with this recommendation and that I enjoyed it so immensely.
It takes place in a future world with marvels and horrors; individual teleportation or “jaunting”, underground prisons, a cult with insane tattoos, the only religious organization which is illegal and corrupt mega-corporations. And although it’s one of those earlier science fiction books that are often weird and a bit haphazard, Bester perfectly packs in so many amazing well-explained ideas within such a slim volume. During the beginning, you can feel the emotions of Foyle as he struggles to survive on little air and sustenance in the middle of space with little hope of rescue. And there are so many well-thought out characters with such differing struggles it’s fantastic to watch it all unfold.
Although I did end up enjoying it overall, it was really the climax and ending that pushed me to truly enjoy this book. I wasn’t sure where it was heading but the ending put everything together into a great story.
Synopsis: Marooned in outer space after an attack on his ship, Nomad, Gulliver Foyle lives to obsessively pursue the crew of a rescue vessel that had intended to leave him to die.