Book Review - The Stars My Destination

 Photograph taken by David Wilder.

Photograph taken by David Wilder.

This classic science fiction novel was first introduced to me about ten years ago in a Sci-Fi Lit course that I took at my university. I barely remembered reading it as I was glancing at my bookshelves, and decided it would be worth picking up again for a re-read.

The Stars My Destination is a novel by Alfred Bester that was serialized in four parts in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in 1956. The book was originally published in Britain with the title Tiger! Tiger!—after William Blake's poem The Tyger. In fact, the first verse of that poem is found on the first page of The Stars My Destination.

The novel is set in the 25th century, when a technology called "jaunting" is commonplace. Jaunting is essentially the ability to teleport from one place to another; there are various distances that one is able to jaunt, depending on his or her ability. The widespread adoption of jaunting has disrupted the social and economic balance of the universe, and the Inner Planets are at war with the Outer Satellites. The book's main character, Gulliver ("Gully") Foyle, starts out marooned in space after his ship was attacked and is the only crew member that survived. Another ship passes him by, ignoring his requests for help. From that point forward, Gully begins an obsessive revenge quest with the goal of finding and destroying the person aboard the ship that gave the order to abandon him in space.

Overall, the book is an enjoyable read, although certainly not one of my favorite pieces of science fiction literature. The writing, even though it's only about 60 years old, still seems like older science fiction, which I find simultaneously endearing and yet difficult to read. I realize that this is a classic science fiction novel and attempted to treat it as such, but I wouldn't rank it up there with the works of Philip K Dick, William Gibson, or Neal Stephenson. I do, however, plan to eventually read one of Bester's other highly-acclaimed works, The Demolished ManIf you're interested in classic science fiction, give this one a shot!

3/5 Stars. 258 pages.