Book Review: The Stars My Destination

Saturday 5 April 2014 by

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, Sci-fi

If there ever was a story that needs to be experienced it’s this. I read it in two days; it would have been one if it wasn’t for the annoyance of work. Being a sci-fi fan this was no great accomplishment but someone who has never read sci-fi before would enjoy this too. Loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo;  Monte Cristo in space, on acid, twisted inside a revenge story with the greatest anti-hero that ends up being your hero, with blood and teleportation.

Imagine a world where one hundred years before a French scientist discovered that humans had the power to teleport or “Jaunt” as it is known. What would become of the transport industry? There would be no need to build new cars, planes, millions would lose jobs. The rich would flaunt their old transport methods (including a locomotive with slaves building the railway as it moved) to show how rich they were, while everyone else bounces around teleporting: this is the world Alfred Bester creates and that’s just setting the scene.

Gully Foyle, a degenerate, unambitious, victim of a past war and criminal, wakes up in a derelict space ship. For six months he survives on what rations are left, risking his air supply to find food; he has gone a bit mad. When one day a ship he believes is his salvation ignores him leaving him to die he is transformed into a revenge driven monster.

From there we follow him on his rampage through the world Bester has created. The genre of “Steampunk” is bandied around in all sorts of circles, I’m not sure anyone really knows what it means but it’s safe to say Alfred Bester invented it. So much so, I think Alfred Bester invented time travel in the year 2136 then travelled back in time to 1950 to write this book: he is eons before his time, or after, depending on his flux capacitor.

As much as Gully Foyle is a baddie, and he proves it countless times, he is a great anti-hero that you want to see win. Alfred Bester’s greatness lies in the worlds and images he creates in the readers minds.

In a world where remakes and reboots of films are common now it’s hard to imagine an original story being made into a film. It is an absolute crime and injustice that Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination hasn’t been made into a movie. That isn’t to say that all books need to be made into a film-this one does!

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