Monday, July 25, 2011

The Stars My Destination

Alfred Bester
Signet Books, 1957 (my copy is from Vintage Books, 1996)
Size: Short (my copy has 258 pages)
Theme: Interplanetary conflict
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Gully Foyle
Recommended minimum age: Young Adult
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

In the near future, out of pure necessity, a person demonstrated the ability of shifting in space, actually instantly moving from one place to another. This phenomenon was termed jaunting, and after sufficient study and trial-and-error, it was found that almost anyone could learn it to some extent. As expected, this caused major changes in society and habits.

This book narrates the tale of Gully Foyle, who through a quirk of fate, found himself isolated in a half-destroyed spacecraft for months. When his salvation seemed at hand, but he is again abandoned, he vows revenge and starts a galactic quest to find and kill those who refused to rescue him. The story is about pain and anguish, but also about revenge and reckoning. It packs as much action as it does soul searching. It is very well written and provides a self-contained story, even if the key plot is left wide open at the end.

Though the book is quite short, and there was room for considerably more character development, particularly of the secondary cast (who end up participating as very stereotypical characters), the main character is compelling enough to make the book an excellent read. Nevertheless, I would have liked this to be only the first chapter, and at least an equal amount of story be written about what could transpire after the last events told in the book. 

Spoilers (warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):
In the end of the book, Gully distributes some Pyre among regular people in different locations around the world, to force the military to reveal the truth about this material. Finally, Gully starts mastering jaunting across both time and space, and ends up jaunting across the universe again aboard the spaceship Nomad.

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