The Stars My Destination Paperback
Part of the S.F. Masterworks series
Gully Foyle, Mechanic's Mate 3rd Class. EDUCATION: none SKILLS: none MERITS: none RECOMMENDATIONS: none That's the official verdict on Gully Foyle, unskilled space crewman. But right now he is the only survivor on his drifting, wrecked spaceship, and when another space vessel - the Vorga - ignores his distress flares and sails by, Gully becomes obsessed with revenge.
He endures 170 days alone in deep space before finding refuge on the Sargasso Asteroid and returning to Earth to track down the crew and owners of the Vorga.
But, as he works out his murderous grudge, Gully Foyle also uncovers a secret of momentous proportions ...
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 29/03/2010
- Category: Science fiction
- ISBN: 9780575094192
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by dulac3
Gully Foyle is my name<br/>Terra is my nation<br/>Deep space is my dwelling place<br/>The stars my destination<br/><br/>Sci-fi from its formative days is funny. Not funny ha-ha (not always anyway), but funny-weird…at least for me. I am often unable to get over the clunky writing and wispy plots despite the many cool ideas on display. Sometimes even a premise as cool as a galaxy-spanning empire held together by the prods and pokes of a few cognoscenti using an arcane sociological science still can’t make a plodding plot with artless prose and paper-thin characters readable to me (sorry, Mr. Asimov). At other times the founders of the genre can suffer by comparison to their descendants who have taken the ideas that, while new and fresh when they used them, seem old and tired when you come to the foundational works after seeing them presented elsewhere, often with more compelling characters and well-crafted prose. Then there are books like this one, written by Alfred Bester, and you understand why some classics are still classics.<br/><br/>Gully Foyle is a gutter-boy. A low, brainless brute barely able to act as a Mechanic’s Mate 3rd class on the spaceship ‘Nomad’, oiling and wiping the machines and acknowledged by his superiors to be a human dead end. Then the passing ship ‘Vorga’ left him to rot, the only survivor on a crippled ship in the void. <br/><br/> <blockquote>So, in five seconds, he was born, he lived, and he died.<br/> After thirty years of existence and six months of torture,<br/> Gully Foyle, the sterotype Common Man, was no more. The <br/> key turned in the lock of his soul and the door was opened.</blockquote><br/><br/>A purpose had been found that could open up all of the potential this beast-man had within him: vengeance. From here we follow Foyle as he lifts himself out of the pit (physically at least) by his bootstraps and ingeniously contrives both his own rescue and the plans that set him on the path that will allow him to fulfill his oath: “I find you, ‘Vorga’. I find you, I kill you, ‘Vorga’. I kill you filthy.” All the while his spirit stews in the morass from which his body could escape and he becomes a rapist, thug and purveyor of violence in pursuit of his goal. No price is too high to reach it, whether it be imprisonment or social isolation; no obstacle can stand in his way, whether it be the most powerful institutions in the world, or the human dignity of those he uses. Beware, Gully Foyle is on his way.<br/><br/>Bester’s prose is well-wrought and carries us briskly along with Foyle on his quest, from the gutter tongue of the 25th century into which he was born to the more refined prose of the high society parties which Foyle must infiltrate. Bester also does a fine job of describing his world and his ability to portray everything from the rigours of Gully’s six month survival in a broken hulk in deep space a gruelling moment at a time, to the weird and wonderful portrayal of Foyle’s trauma-induced synaesthesia later in the book is astonishing. I was dazzled. There are also more ideas packed into one slim volume than you can shake a stick at and all of them are foundational in the genre: cybernetic implants for physical and mental enhancement, personal teleportation (with many of the social ramifications of its existence worked out in the story), world-ending manufactured compounds that leave the future of humanity lying on a knife’s edge, a world controlled by pseudo-feudal multinational corporations, a forgotten society of future primitives living on a lonely asteroid, tattooing their faces with hideous designs, and worshipping a debased form of the scientific method…and the list goes on. Why were they able, at their best, to do this kind of thing in the old days in one slim volume, while today a writer would have taken half of these ideas, or even one, and written a two thousand page multi-volume epic out of it? Add to that the cast of characters that are almost all equally memorable and well-drawn: the megalomaniac Presteign of Presteign, a man of wealth and power cognisant of little save his own desires and dignity; his equally powerful daughter, the beautiful blind albino Olivia, an ice-princess who sees the world in the infra-red and electro-magnetic spectrums and carries her own dark secrets; the memorably named Jisbella McQueen (Jiz to her friends, thanks very much) a criminal miscreant both attracted to and repulsed by Foyle; and the man with the death’s head smile, Saul Dagenham, a scientist made ‘hot’ by an accident that has left him a radioactive outcast, able to interact with others in only a limited way.<br/><br/>I must admit that, while I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start, I was minded to give it a three star rating until I came to the climax and Bester managed to turn a scarred, brutal criminal into an altruistic saviour for a mankind as lost and directionless as he had been. One key had turned and made Gully Foyle into a remorseless machine for vengeance, another equally harsh set of trials then took this driven creature and made him into someone able to see the root of humanity’s need and try his best to give them the key to their own awakening. <br/><br/> <blockquote>I challenge you, me. Die or live and be great. Blow<br/> yourselves to Christ gone or come and find me, <br/> Gully Foyle, and I make you men. I make you great.<br/> I give you the stars.</blockquote><br/><br/>What a great read. Highly recommended.<br/><br/>(Bester also gets extra points for having written the silver age Green Lantern oath, a ditty almost as cool as the one quoted above about Gully Foyle.)<br/>
Review by shanaqui
I think I'm going to have to figure out what I think about this while writing the review. I've been reading both positive and negative reviews, and find myself terribly easily influenced on the subject. I mean, there's something to be said for the fact that the main character is completely unworthy of sympathy and horrible to try and identify with in any way, if that's one of your things (and it is one of mine). It certainly isn't hard SF, which isn't one of my things, but I can see why the lack of explanation of a lot of aspects could be annoying. And the treatment of gender... The less said about the female characters and their role, the better.On the other hand, there's some amazing writing here -- the whole synaesthesia sequence, for example. (Synaesthesia doesn't actually work that way usually: you don't get one input switched completely for another, you get your wires crossed so one input produces a response from multiple senses. E.g. when I say the word "torture", the feel of the word in my mouth, the sound of it, etc, all transmute into the taste of dark chocolate -- but I still hear the word, feel myself saying it. But I didn't mind because it all made sense inside the story.) The moral core of the story, the slow improvement of Gully's character, that was an interesting study, even if I disliked that the women he came across were just tools for imparting that bit more understanding to the main character.I can also see how influential the story has been. It has the seeds of cyberpunk, and a potential influence on a hell of a lot of other SF since that time, right up to the present.So I haven't actually managed to figure out what I think even through writing this review. I enjoyed reading the book, though, so I think I'm gonna go for three or four stars. There's stuff about it I didn't like -- but I did read it in a couple of hours, and there's definitely food for thought here.
Review by imyril
I found this novel problematic from start to finish. I recognise what it means in terms of themes, setting and plot, but for a modern (female) reader the treatment of the female characters is downright offensive. This makes me utterly unforgiving of plot holes and logic gaps.