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Man into beast
on 10 September 2009
Published in Britain in 1956, Bester's short novel (248pp), is considered to be one of the founding works of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It's a complicated story of one Gully Foyle, sole survivor of an accident in space which has left him alone and barely alive in the floating wreckage of a space ship. When another ship (the Vorga) passes close by Gully sends up distress flares but is ignored. This sets up a boundless hatred in Gully's soul and he vows to have revenge. His search for vengeance takes him from ignorant third-class mechanic to human weapon cum socialite back on earth, where normal society has broken down as people have discovered how to `Jaunte' - i.e. move from one co-ordinate to another in an instant.
There are some gaps in my understanding that I think are due to Bester's failure to fill-in the reader about the society he sets up in this book and his `science' (if that is the word) is profoundly sketchy. Nevertheless, it is an astonishing creation and even if you don't like Science Fiction, you could find yourself caught up in the unfortunate Gully's lust for revenge.