Wednesday, 29 May 2013
Review: The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Jaunt : "A short trip or excursion, usually for pleasure; an outing."
Jaunte: "to teleport oneself, unaided, by a simple expression of will. The only requirements are that you know where you are and can visualize where you are going."
The Stars My Destination is an edgy, fast paced tale of one man, Gully Foyle, and his desire for revenge for those who left him to die. He is a man with no outstanding characteristics, a brute seemingly without the capacity for intellectual thought, trapped alone on the wreck of his ship, Nomad. This all changes when the ship Vorga sails him by, and gives him a purpose, revenge.
Despite being written in the 50's this novel feels surprisingly modern. Following Foyle's journey is compelling, despite him having some very questionable traits. He is the anti-hero and his character development is handled with such skill that you cannot help but back him all the way.
Bester's universe is well realised, his world building is surprisingly complete despite the relatively short length of the novel and the ability to jaunte provides some interesting resolutions to conflict.
The book is not without negatives, like many other stories written at this time the prose has an air of sexism and racism. Women are very much not part of the action and the treatment of Robin Wednesbury certainly carried racist overtones which feel uncomfortable when read today.
Despite this the novel is still a brilliant read, well paced, intricate and exciting.