The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, 1956 (Novel)

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, 1956 (Novel)  — Gulley Foyle, the last survivor of The Nomad, has been ‘shipwrecked’ in space.  The possibility of rescue appears, but the ship deliberately continues on, leaving him to die.  His quest for revenge is assisted by a gift for jaunting, ruthlessness, and his ability to blend in with every level of society.

Comments:  An original and highly influential novel showcasing Bester’s “pyrotechnic” prose.  Neil Gaiman has commented that it is the perfect “cyberpunk” novel, with its ominous corporations, an amoral hero, a hyperscientific McGuffin, and a female thief. (Wikipedia) “Bester’s description of synesthesia is the first popular account in the English language. It is also quite accurate.” (Wikipedia)  One of the first anti-global corporation novels. Contains a controversial rape scene. Themes of violence, emotions/empathy, distance, social and physical mobility, distribution/commerce, corporations, senses, the evolution of humanity.  Romantics look for a frontier, and a new frontier is suddenly made possible by “jaunting.” Modifies Descartes “I think, therefore I am” to “I think, therefore I jaunt.”  Interesting description of how jaunters must learn to “visualize.”  Originally entitled and appeared in UK as “Tiger! Tiger!” after Blake’s poem, “The Tyger.”

Wikipedia:  “The novel can be seen as a science-fiction adaption of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.  It is the study of a man completely lacking in imagination or ambition…The title The Stars My Destination appears in a quatrain quoted by Foyle twice during the book. The first time, while he is trapped in outer space, he states,

Gully Foyle is my name / And Terra is my nation / Deep space is my dwelling place / And death’s my destination.

Toward the end of the book, after he has returned to human life and become something of a hero, he states:

Gully Foyle is my name / And Terra is my nation / Deep space is my dwelling place / The stars my destination

Both quatrains are based on a poetic form that was popular in England and the United States during the 18th-to-mid-20th centuries, in which a person stated their name, country, city or town, and a religious homily (often, ‘Heaven’s my destination’) within the rhyming four-line structure (see book rhyme).  This literary device had been previously used by James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Alfred Bester (December 18, 1913 – September 30, 1987) was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books. Though successful in all these fields, he is probably best remembered today for his work as a science fiction author, and as the winner of the first Hugo Award in 1953 for his novel The Demolished Man.”

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About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, bureaucracy/corporations, class/labor/"work", distance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, senses/space, speed/slowness, violence. Bookmark the permalink.

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