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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.
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on 7 February 2006
The Stars, My Destination is one of those timeless novels that belong in any library regardless of your level interest in science fiction. It starts off narrow with very simple themes of vengeance and retribution but broadens out into a fantastic book with a particularly gratifying ending. There aren’t many books in SF that can manage that.
Alfred Bester’s 1956 novel starts off with an unlikable space crewman called Gully Foyle who has been trapped aboard his marooned ship for 6 months. In the space of a few pages a ship (the Vorga) goes past and Gully attempts to signal it for rescue but to no avail. Thus Gully’s goal in life is set: to hunt down Vorga. What strikes me most about the novel is how quick paced it is yet manages to flesh out a number of characters each with their own odd quirks and failings. Gully is a strangely likeable anti-hero in that his simplicity feels authentic. You know his deluded ‘mission’ is inevitably not going to give him the results he wants, but Bester writes him so well that you really are egging him on and are willing to overlook his obvious beastliness.
One of my favourite characters of the book is Presteign of Presteign; that being the owner/leader of the Presteign mega-corporation. He exhibits such a strange coolness in all situations and insists he be called Presteign rather than Mr. Presteign that I found him fascinating. In fact if you combined his coolness with Foyle’s brashness you’d end up with someone very similar to Ben Reich – the main protagonist of Bester’s other classic, The Demolished Man.
It has been mentioned as a forerunner to the whole cyberpunk genre and I would agree with that. In a way it reminded me of Altered Carbon. In that book the main technology is ‘sleeving’ where your mind is digitized and can be transferred to any body (at a price). In The Stars My Destination the key science part is ‘jaunting’ where everybody has the ability to instantly teleport themselves with only the effort of thought. But in both novels the technology serves as a background to essentially a straight and traditional story.
The title comes from a marvelous little rhyme at the end of the book:
Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place,
The stars my destination.
Superb – 9/10!
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on 11 April 2015
Read this 20 years ago in my first year at university, re read it this year, still good and probably lives up to the claim of being the first cyber punk novel. It has its flaws, don't most books. But, It also deserves the rich praise.
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on 2 January 2015
A fast packed novel, let down by a weak ending and a rather clunky and dated type of plot. Surely if this is the future, tracing a man should be as easy as putting a bug on his person? But Bester didn't think about this, so the plot has a few holes.

The Demolished Man is far better - there is more character development. But many of the ideas are similar (such as the existance of Grande Familles with coats of arms etc).

Not his best work but OK.
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on 8 October 2007
Would anyone who had never heard of 'The Stars My Destination' be able to guess that it's over fifty years old? It's as fresh and gripping now as it was when it was first published, although to the 1950s reader it must have been mind-blowing.

Every re-read always yields more, and sometimes it becomes prophetically relevant. For instance, when I first read it in the 70s I thought the naming of clans after the companies which their ancestors had founded was a little far-fetched, but now . . . Paris Hilton, anyone?

The ideas burst from the page. Bester's use of synaesthesia has never been bettered, although Christopher Priest's short story 'Whores' comes close. The combination of formidable invention and relentless pace is surely unmatched in the genre.

Bester never wrote anything as good again, but most authors would be pathetically grateful to have written anything as good, period. And although I can't recall who said of Bester that he 'lived life as if the world had been invented for his pleasure', 'Stars' surely earned Bester that right.

Mike Cope, 8 October 2007.
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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.
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on 28 September 2014
Bizarre book but a good read. I liked his development and the development of the other characters around him. Good writing with nice descriptions. Be warned there is a lot of violence, band language and a few sexual themes
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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.
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on 5 July 1999
Brian Aldiss coined the term "wide-screen Baroque" to describe this marvellous, pulsating, vibrant novel. It's brash, it's silly, it's chaotic, it's full of witty asides, and it moves with a smooth, deadly precision. It's funny, thrilling, and contains one of the immortal characters of science fiction in Gully Foyle...
Sheer lunatic epic out-of-control joy, a book to read and re-read for its superb style as much as its twisted revenge tragedy plot...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 July 2014
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..
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