This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

30 March, 2012

REVIEW: THE STARS MY DESTINATION

Cover based on illustration by Chris Moore/Artist Partners

THE STARS MY DESTINATION
(Alternative title: Tiger! Tiger!)
BY
ALFRED BESTER

ISBN: 978-0-575-09419-2
Pages: 244 (Including afterword.)
Publisher: Gollancz
First published: 1956
This edition published: 11 March 1999 (Cover change: 29 March 2010)

On the cover:

EDUCATION: none.

SKILLS: none. MERITS: none.

RECOMMENDATIONS: none.

That is the official verdict on Gully Foyle, unskilled space crewman. But Gully has managed to survive for 170 days in the airless purgatory of deep space after the wreck of his ship, and has escaped to Earth carrying a murderous grudge and a secret that could change the course of history.

   This is one of the classics of Science Fiction, and there is a very good reason for that. This is one of a few novels that I think is compulsory reading in the SFF genre. It has stood the test of time, and the scope of it is such that it still is a brilliant work of the imagination today.

   Compared to modern SFF this is a rather short novel, but the page numbers are deceiving. Bester does not waste words and there is a lot of story, and room for character development in its pages.
   The main character, Gully Foyle, is very well developed and the journey we follow him on is an intense one. From the first chapter we are thrown into events that threaten to destroy Gully, and it is his battle against this that form the central theme of the book.
   Gully Foyle is not a traditional hero, he's much more of the kind of ant-hero that we are more used to from the "Gritty" Fantasy of recent years. But Gully is not an unsympathetic character, his actions are rooted in the events that shape him and his is a very interesting journey to follow.

   The story is full of suspense, and there are some satisfying action sequences that manages to up the tension even further. In amongst all that is happening Bester also finds room to give quite a lot of information of the future Gully Foyle is living in, a future that seems relevant, futuristic, and plausible even fifty-six years after the novel was written. These drips of information are interesting in themselves, and they help flesh out the setting of the story.
   For a novel this old, this does not in any way feel dated. There is very little here that could not have been written in the present day, and I think that is The Stars My Destination's true claim to being a classic, not only of the SFF genre but of literature in general. Bester's ideas still hold up against the best that is written today, and he executes them in a brilliant way.

   There's really not much left to say, this is a extremely well written novel and as mentioned above, I think it is a true classic. This certainly is a novel that should be in any fan of Science Fiction's library, and it deserves a place in any collection of books.

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