The Stars My Destination Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
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. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for over 50 years.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 27 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 05, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #17,625 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#21 in Steampunk Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#70 in Steampunk Fiction
#117 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
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Top reviews from the United States
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The prologue reads like a 1930's era carnival barker explaining the physics of self-teleportation ("jaunting" as its called here), which settles you in for a decent piece of golden age science fiction. Ok fine. Good, in fact.
However (as others have noted), you won't be prepared for the opening twist (spoiler warning) or the main character and his gutter speak and impetuous personality. Gully Foyle is the "id". An arrow of emotion shooting through the cosmos, belligerent and beautiful (in a way) We find this out very quickly. His character is fully realized with all its quirks, weight and lurid faults (which he is certainly not without).
Foyle was traveling on a spaceship that got shipwrecked in outer space. Everyone is dead save him. His ship is pocked full of holes so that he must eek out a miserable survival locked in a closet taking only occasional and dangerous ventures out into the hull to gather supplies before his oxygen (and food) runs out.
Then it happens. He spots a passing ship and signals for rescue. The other ship circles in for a closer look, and then inexplicably jets. Gully is abandoned. And that's where everything changes. The book is not about surviving in the vastness of space. No. Instead it turns into a fast-paced, high-stakes adventure story centering on revenge. Gully Foyle dedicates his entire existence to finding the ship which abandoned him to suffer in outer space (and any associated with it).
Here Foyle dons a figurative superhero persona and blasts off after his opus magnus. In many ways he reminds me of Robert Howard's Conan or Kull, in that Foyle is strength beyond strength--and his sheer strength of will helps him to manage to best those with far greater intellect and resources then he has.
Suffice to say, I cannot do the book justice in a simple review. And perhaps it may be a little too much for casual readers of the genre (although the science is not overwrought) the time shifting and mental state of the main character provide adept twists and turns. Indeed even the words themselves bend out of time on the page (which is my only real criticism cause it felt a bit gimmicky--and yet given the subject matter it is forgivable).
Others have commented that the characters in this book are mostly one dimensional, yet there are some very interesting almost comic-book like characters (the author did write comic books after all). However, I would counter that the characters do enough interesting things, and are invested in the plot in enough interesting ways, that they are not single beat notes there simply to counter the protagonist.
Foyle's rage tangles him into cool and interesting plots. It also serves to drive him off-track and give him every-increasing perspective at what he is doing. And each time he is knocked off the rails of revenge and resets, he sets the stakes higher and grander. He turns a personal vendetta into an everyman war.
One last point I'll make is that this book paints some great visuals without overdoing the verbiage. I kept picturing this set in a stylized color saturated film of ultra real visuals. When Gully is running across the landscape, beating his feet furiously after his revenge quest -- you feel it. Even through the eyes of other characters. You just feel the emotion driving him. Its compelling.
Do yourself a favor and check out this book. It's the kind you put down and then say "wow".
The setting is the 25th Century where jaunting (teleportation) has allowed individuals to travel up to 1,000 miles by willpower alone. This has transformed society into a new Victorian age to counteract the unlimited mobility of jaunting. The solar system is at war as the inner planets and outer planets battle. To quote the author, "It was an age of freaks, monsters, and grotesques. All the world was misshapen in marvelous and malevolent ways."
***MINOR SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH ***. This is the story of Gully Foyle, the stereotypical Common Man, and the events which break his shell of indifference and complacence. Gully is abandoned and left adrift. When a potential rescue ship passes him by, he finds motivation in hatred and revenge to break his Common Man shell. He becomes an animal focused on vengeance against his unwilling rescuers. Gully is forced to face the morality of his actions as it becomes apparent that there are issues greater than his vengeance. Can Gully undergo a second transformation? Gully is poised to revolutionize or destroy the solar system. What should a person do with this power? Read and find out in this compelling story. ******
This story is copyrighted in 1956. Much of this story's science fiction is characteristic of this time period with focus on rockets, radar and newspapers. Sexual references are muted as is typical of the times - I would guess that this is particularly the case for a work that was first published piecemeal in sci-fi magazines. This is part of the charm and historic sci-fi insight that comes from reading a classic. This book does contain violence (although not too gory) which seems atypical of the books which I have read from this time period.
The forward by Neil Gaiman is a well told narrative of Alfred Bester's works, background and significance to science fiction literature. Mr. Gaiman also briefly reviews the evolution of Science Fiction and Alfred Bester's contribution to that evolution for which he has a Grandmaster award from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. I would recommend reading it to have a better understanding of this classic.
Ebook editing when read on my Kindle was horrible. It was disappointing to have editing distract from my enjoyment of this classic. In particular, paragraph indentation errors were widespread throughout. Starts of paragraph were properly indented but indentation continued on for remainder of paragraph instead of resetting to no indentation. There were also repeating partial paragraphs. Most of the visual impacts from the print versions were also missing. Alfred Bester has many visual and word play affects later in the book (Chapter 15 in particular) which are accomplished through either creative use of type or images but most of these are missing in the ebook version. This creative use of type and images to supplement the story has always been a favorite part of the overall story so I was very disappointed that the majority of it was missing and the remainder was poorly reproduced. I am not sure if this was due to the inability of current ebook technology or incompetence of editor but either way it diminishes Alfred Bester's work.
Top reviews from other countries
This has very high ratings on Goodreads and lots of people claiming it’s the best book ever written in the history of this galaxy or any other. I guess they must all like following a bunch of despicable people doing despicable things for no logical reason. Some SF novels suggest that humanity will improve as we continue to evolve – others, and this is one of them, suggest that humanity has no redeeming features whatsoever and will gradually revert to a sort of savagery. For some reason, the latter seem to be respected more than the former, in the era of modern SF anyway. This, I now remember, is why I hate most SF from the late ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Bad taste pulp.
Gully rapes the first woman to put in an appearance in the book. This is pretty much a signal for the casual misogyny that runs throughout. All the women are possessions and sex toys, rising or falling in the social order by virtue of whose daughters they are, who they sleep with, or who they are raped by. They are not all victims though – they are just as vile and vicious as the men on the whole. Torture and murder are the norm in this society, not to mention genocide. How can any reader possibly care about the outcome for any of these characters? Beats me. I certainly felt that they would all be improved by death.
Clearly I’m not on the right wavelength for this one, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. If you want to read about a vile man doing vile things in a vile society, highly recommended!
It is the story of Gully Foyle, a grunt in the interplanetary merchant navy who is the sole survivor of an attack on his spaceship in a war between the inner and outer solar system. After six months scrabbling to survive, a passing ship chooses not to rescue him, and this becomes the catalyst for him to save himself and embark on an odyssey of revenge.
At its core the book is a fast moving thriller of retribution as Gully bounces between weird space cult, underground prison, parties of the super rich, and nuclear exchanges in an increasingly deadly war.
The Stars my Destination is absolutely bursting with ideas. It is about to progress through struggle, looking back to Milton and a long hard way which leads out of hell into the light. It is about power in society, the manipulation of the masses by a commercial and legal elite. It provides that rare thing from mid 20th century SF, a strong feminist heroine. It is a definitely Judeo-Christan story of sin, redemption and ascension.
In its central plot device of telepathic travel, it is definitely a book of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, looking to , perhaps, A E Van Vogt. The vaguely hallucinogenic stream of consciousness style of writing is echoed by writers such as Michael Moorcock and M John Harrison. In centring the book on a low life anti hero in a disintegrating society, this is a grandparent of cyber-punk. When Foyle pays to become an enhanced super soldier, the book becomes a pre-cursor to any number of works from Peter Hamilton's Greg Mantel series, through Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon Novels, to the military SF of Haldeman and Scalzi.
So, this is definitely a book which has stood the test of time. There are elements in it which probably wouldn't appear in a contemporary work, but it remains a fast paced thriller sitting on top of an intelligent thought provoking work which bears comparison to Philip K Dick.
My first thoughts regarding the first few chapters is in my mind still very 'modern' and easily readable.
Although you find the characters actions to be dark and disgusting, you do find yourself satisfied how he has changed, although as a reader I hadn't really forgiven him, but he knows what he has done and doesn't require the reader to forgive him for his actions.
I enjoyed the aspects involving the 'jaunting' and was convinced how the revolutionised transport of people had its own unique changes on society and the problems it had brought with it.
I don't think you'll be disappointed delving into this Sci fi piece, the pace of the book too kept your attention focused, so before digesting one aspect of story another had been thrown your way.