60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 20 April 2000
This is the greatest science fiction novel ever written, and in my humble opinion one of the greatest novels of the 20th Century. Strangely, it has long been known to me as "Tiger Tiger" and I have never got used to this, its original title.
Underneath the superb and imaginative futuristic setting is the story of a man transformed from a Dave Lister-style space bum into a raging, semi-literate savage intent on killing the spaceship Vorga that left him stranded. Through his weird and often violent trials and tribulations he is transformed into a powerful, intelligent and finally great man on whom the future of civilization rests. The story he uncovers and the "driven" people at the centre of the immense power struggle in which he finds himself, are remarkable and yet terrifying.
This is a superb futuristic novel which at its heart is an acute and insightful reflection on the present day world. It seems to offer something new every time I read it, and I never tire of re-visiting this wonderful story.
This is a breathtaking, pulse racing, thoughful and magnificent work of fiction, with a million great ideas tightly woven into one excellent, coherent story. It is a great achievement in itself, and also the reason why we have William Gibson and cyberpunk.
Buy it now. There is no excuse not to.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2003
This is certainly not a perfect book. There is a lot in it that turns me off; that doesn't sit right with me (The descriptions of Presteign and his contemporaries' lifestyles, the circus bufoonery and some of Bester's future vision for women) - These elements do not seem to fit with the rest of the book, and chapters which do not focus on the main character, Gully Foyle, are just nowhere near as interesting as the rest of the book.
But oh, the rest of the book - The other 70% - That's the reason why I'm giving this the full five stars, and why I do consider it, though not perfect, still one of the finest and most unique books I've ever read. First of all, the pace: This book reads faster than anything else I've come across. Without wanting to sound cliched, Bester's prose burns off the page at a speed somewhat faster than lightning. He moves effortlessly across continents and planets, from action scene to action scene, all in the space of a typical chapter. The action is blinding (Bester wrote a lot of comics, earlier in his career, and it really shows), often violent and visceral in a way that I just didn't believe '50s novels could be, and Foyle is a madman, more than a man, a towering anti-hero. Yes, Foyle: One of the best characters ever created. Perhaps 'anti-hero' wasn't fair - He defies description. You just have to read about him. He changes so much during his adventures, and all in a totally believable way. Lastly, I want to mention the actual technology, the sci-fi: It has not, on the whole, dated badly. Most of it still seems wonderful and far-flung, though believable, today. And better than that, it's cool! In one of the best chapters of the novel, Bester introduces nano-augmentation and proceeds through a blistering set of action scenes that easily out-Matrix 'The Matrix.' This is hot, hot stuff! And, of course, there is the central idea of a wild new breakthrough in travel that changes the whole of human civilization - 'Jaunting.' Perhaps I am not well-read enough; Perhaps Bester was not the first to come up with an idea like this, but I've certainly never read anything like it. It's wonderful, and the newfound human ability of transporting oneself a thousand miles in a couple of seconds just adds to the frenetic, driving pace of Bester's stripped-bare, hi-frequency narrative.
'The Stars My Destination' dazzles, delights and addicts. Not just one of the best SF novels ever, but one of the best novels ever. I've just finished reading it for the first time, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2014
This is one of my 2 favorite scifi books of all time (other one is Dune).
Alfred Bester was not consistently amazing, like some other great writers, but at his best he was truly astonishing and surpassed them all. And this book is his very best. The power, catharsis, pace, and meaningful transformation in this story is awesome to read.
The protagonist is definitely an anti-hero....but he does have a valid gripe, to say the least. Its hard to say much about this story without spoiling it. But the feel of much of the story is very Gibson like....moving around the world in a cyberpunk way...but this was well before that genre ever started. Its a cyberpunk feel without being cyberpunk. And there are things like tickertape machines that you will have to accept as part of its time, but that is easy for me to get by.
The flow of the story, the power of his vengeance, is written superbly. It sends chills up my spine reading it.
The ending ..is incredible. It would not work for some authors or some stories, but it fits perfectly in this sort of story and the way it is written. If your mind is open to it, it will never leave you.
This story is a gem. Everything went right in its creation. Behold the masterpiece.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2006
I can't praise this book highly enough. It's part social critique, part re-write of the Count of Monte Cristo, part play, part novel, part re-telling of the "Hero" monomyth, and through all its rough and ready ugliness and glory shines a firm belief in humanity and our ability to redeem ourselves if we'll only stand still long enough to listen.
I can think of few other novels which make me want to laugh, cry and dance with joy just for the remembrance of them.
A wonderful book that no sci-fi fan should be without - 10/10
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2004
The plot is quite simple, but the momentum it builds is so well balanced it sees you through the quirkier aspects of the storyline. I would say there are not many instances where you are made overly aware that this book was written about 50 or so years ago, some people say the attitudes to women are the most obvious, but I don't really agree in this respect.
Not so keen on the concrete poetry bit, but parts like the prison break more than make up for it. Stars... is so dynamic it would make a great film, but Hollywood is unlikely to make a film where the hero is SO antihero it would be impossible to reconcile without ruining the whole story.
This is a really great book to read when you've been wronged by someone. Foyle's quest for revenge is cathartic and absolute in it's single mindedness.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2001
Burning with the bright and energy of the pulps, Tiger! Tiger! is of science fiction without actually being it. The throwaway invention of gadgetary, the grotesquery, the literateness, and the memorable and extraordinary supporting cast take back seat to the driving character of Gully Foyle, and a way of writing that inspired all the Simmons, the Delaneys and Bankses that were to follow. There is no time to think; a dazzling orgy of riotous incident, this is Space Opera gone Greenwich Village Hip; wide-screen Charlie Parker, rather than wide-screen Baroque; and immense fun.
Every few years I dig this out and have another read of it and I'm always amazed by the quality of the writing and the story's power to involve the reader. It's one of those "cinematic" experiences that drags the reader along at a cracking pace - yet it never feels hurried or having had corners cut. primarily, it's a voyage of self discovery; Gully Foyle goes from a barely sentient ape of a man to a a well rounded sophisticate, driven by emotion and the need for revenge. Improbably out of universe yet perfectly feasible in-universe, this transformation is neither forced nor stretches credibility but develops in a logical and involving way and it's possible to identify with rather than merely sympathise with or worse, simply observe the character. By many critics' standards this character-driven writing takes it well out of genre-fiction into the realms of, :Ahem!: literature. I think this is a valid observation; it\s rare for a work od "speculative" fiction to receive any positive notice from mainstream critics, yet this ticks all the right boxes. It's got as much zapping with blasters and zero gravity as any of the standard space operas, but the perspective is entirely different and somehow more worthwhile.
There are some - I would hesitate to say "problems" - rather dated gender viewpoints, but nothing untoward. The misogyny, such as it is, is rather subtle and in no way detracts from the story or characters. It's merely a reflection of the times in which it was penned.
Incidentally I suspect that this book was largely the inspiration for Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat series, a creation far glossier, slicker and altogether shallower but of course also written as something of a punk-rock statement to the old-rock science-fiction establishment, of which The Stars My Destination is a classical if rather untypical example.
I'm now on my third paperback. The first two were titled "Tiger, Tiger!" and have walked off somewhere and I was a bit surprised when the title changed but then I've been an occasional reader of this since the early 70s. This new edition is bigger, too. I've also an e-pub version and a couple of years back (I think) I acquired an audiobook version which surprised me by being less involving than the paperback under review. This is the definitive one, in my opinion.
The book should appeal to a wider audience than the space opera crowd, so if you're not normally a sci-fi aficionado, you may be pleasantly surprised ay where this takes you..
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2014
I am so impressed that a book written so long ago has not dated. One reason for that is that the book doesn't get bogged down with the detail of how future technology works or for that matter the intricacy of physics to explain how one jumps from one place to another etc. As long as you accept the possibilities it reads well. For those who need the underlining detail this may be ian little rritating. The book took me somewhere else in the universe and that is what I look for in my Sci F.
on 15 August 2015
For as long as I've read sci-fi, the usual suspects have been wheeled out as 'giants' of the genre: Heinlein and his crypto-fascism, Asimov and his technophobia...
Enter Bester and Gully Foyle...
Leaving aside the comparisons with 'The Count of Monte Cristo,' The Stars my Destination, is for my money, the greatest sci-fi novel I have ever read. Only Wells' 'War of The Worlds,' and Bester's other sci-fi extravaganza - 'The Demolished Man,' come close in breadth of vision, scope, and sheer damned entertainment.
The secret to the success of this book is not the rip-roaring action, an ensemble of great villains, or the use of 'jumpers' and the impact it has on the society within this book. No, the book's heart is its humanist core. Gully Foyle is a nobody, scum, trash, and yet, he betters himself. Through sheer strength of will and endeavour, he rises out of the gutter, culminating in the final scene when ultimate power lies within his grasp, only for Foyle to entrust it to humanity, because despite its flaws, Foyle believes in the power of the human spirit to triumph over anything.
Entertaining, liberal (a rarity in sci-fi books) The Stars my destination deserves its place on the pantheon of the greatest works of sci-fi.
Having just recently started reading Science Fiction books again I was absoloutely blown away by this story. The concept is fabulous in it's execution which sees Gully Foyle turned from a nobody into the most wanted man in the universe, while being driven by his quest for vengeance on the ships crew that left him to rot on his own stranded craft. Not only that but unbeknown to Foyle he holds two secrets which could hold the key to ultimate victory in a cosmic war which is being fought in the background to all the action surrounding him. Foyle becomes the lone man raging against the system to exact his terrible revenge on all who stand in his way. Of course the story is so much more than this as Foyle begins to see things in a different light the more he uncovers about himself and the people who abandoned him. The action never lets up, and although the story does leap from one scene to another, the cracks n the plot are well papered over to never let it spoil your enjoyment. I would definitely love to see this turned into a movie. Excellent!!!