The Stars My Destination

j d worthington

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Well, yes, iansales is right -- I do uphold The Demolished Man. Having read the novel several times (and I'll admit, I didn't care that much for it the first time I read it), I'd say Bester was a lot more subtle with things in that novel than he's been given credit for. The murderer was known from the beginning... it was the motive (and the method) that were the sticking points where convicting Reich was concerned... and the fact that Powell found something about Reich that he liked made it even more difficult, considering Demolition.... But there are many other layers to that novel that one may not catch the first time around because of the visual aspects of the novel. Nonetheless, they're there, and each of them makes (no pun intended) the novel a deeper one because of its presence....

As for The Stars My Destination... I prefer that title because, in the end, it has a lot more to do with the novel as a whole than does Tiger, Tiger, it seems to me. And yes, I highly recommend the novel not only as a classic, but as one of the truly magnificent tours-de-force to come out of sf. Again, though, there are many layers to this book as well; that was one of the best things about Bester: he had this pyrotechnic approach that drew you in, but he always had stories that were working on many levels at the same time.

And GOLLUM: There was another collection issued some years later, titled Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester, which included the contents of The Light Fantastic and Star Light, Star Bright:

Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester by Alfred Bester

It has a lot more of his shorter works than that listed above. (I highly recommend "Fondly Fahrenheit", by the way....


As for XTRO/The Computer Connection and GOLEM 100... in both cases, I'd say that they're worth reading, but only just, and largely for the earlier parts of the books, as both fall apart rather badly toward the end. There's also The Deceivers, ditto. Some magnificent ideas in each book, and some great things along the way, but the ending in all of them is a sad disappointment coming from the man who pulled off so much wonderful work in earlier days....
 

Connavar

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Well, yes, iansales is right -- I do uphold The Demolished Man. Having read the novel several times (and I'll admit, I didn't care that much for it the first time I read it), I'd say Bester was a lot more subtle with things in that novel than he's been given credit for. The murderer was known from the beginning... it was the motive (and the method) that were the sticking points where convicting Reich was concerned... and the fact that Powell found something about Reich that he liked made it even more difficult, considering Demolition.... But there are many other layers to that novel that one may not catch the first time around because of the visual aspects of the novel. Nonetheless, they're there, and each of them makes (no pun intended) the novel a deeper one because of its presence....

As for The Stars My Destination... I prefer that title because, in the end, it has a lot more to do with the novel as a whole than does Tiger, Tiger, it seems to me. And yes, I highly recommend the novel not only as a classic, but as one of the truly magnificent tours-de-force to come out of sf. Again, though, there are many layers to this book as well; that was one of the best things about Bester: he had this pyrotechnic approach that drew you in, but he always had stories that were working on many levels at the same time.

And GOLLUM: There was another collection issued some years later, titled Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester, which included the contents of The Light Fantastic and Star Light, Star Bright:

Starlight: The Great Short Fiction of Alfred Bester by Alfred Bester

It has a lot more of his shorter works than that listed above. (I highly recommend "Fondly Fahrenheit", by the way....


As for XTRO/The Computer Connection and GOLEM 100... in both cases, I'd say that they're worth reading, but only just, and largely for the earlier parts of the books, as both fall apart rather badly toward the end. There's also The Deceivers, ditto. Some magnificent ideas in each book, and some great things along the way, but the ending in all of them is a sad disappointment coming from the man who pulled off so much wonderful work in earlier days....

There were so many layers to this book that it was hard keeping check on them all . One of very few SF books that is like Memento the movie where you have rewatch to catch things you missed at first. The same with this book, there were so many layers that im sure i missed so subtle things. For example i was so absorbed in the story that i missed at first that Gully Spolier!.......... raped Robin Spoiler end

Also so many twists specially the end that you never saw coming. It was more like a thriller book in parts that you almost forget it was a SF story.

A very special book in my view. It wasnt simpel revenge story . Although the end annoyed me alittle seemed like very anti climax compared to amazing journey it was before the end.

Foyle deserved better in my view. He was so rare. One of few characters that can keep a book alive and strong on his own.

What do you make of the end and think of it. Spoiler tag it so it doesnt ruin for the others.
 

panopticon

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You mean Scientific People ?
Sorry, I've been away a couple of days. Yes, I meant them - I loved their entire culture and way of life, "it's very scientific!" I loved how the book could have such humour, and yet be so dark at some stages. It's a great balance.

as for the ending... on my first reading I was a little dissapointed, but now ... spoiler! I see it as a sort of ascension for Gully to the next level. He's beyond his revenge now, and because of how special he is, he essentially has the galaxy at his fingertips, but goes back to the Scientific people to live with his wife. It's like there's nowhere better for him to go now; he has reched a pinnacle. He's been stupid and low, but he's also been rich and famous and cunning. He's seen a whole spectrum of his society, and don't think he truly liked any of it - now he's so much better than them, why stay and be experimented on like the poor first man who discovered Jaunting? Instead he chooses and isolated life where he can consider what he's become and how he got there, in relative peace. Spoiler end.
 

Anthony G Williams

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I first read TSMD in the 1960s and it blew me away. It's in the top three on my list of all-time favourite SF stories (Ringworld and Dune being the other two).

Come to think of it, I haven't read it for quite a while...time to dig out my dilapidated 1962 paperback edition and read it again (if it holds together for long enough!)
 

Connavar

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Sorry, I've been away a couple of days. Yes, I meant them - I loved their entire culture and way of life, "it's very scientific!" I loved how the book could have such humour, and yet be so dark at some stages. It's a great balance.

as for the ending... on my first reading I was a little dissapointed, but now ... spoiler! I see it as a sort of ascension for Gully to the next level. He's beyond his revenge now, and because of how special he is, he essentially has the galaxy at his fingertips, but goes back to the Scientific people to live with his wife. It's like there's nowhere better for him to go now; he has reched a pinnacle. He's been stupid and low, but he's also been rich and famous and cunning. He's seen a whole spectrum of his society, and don't think he truly liked any of it - now he's so much better than them, why stay and be experimented on like the poor first man who discovered Jaunting? Instead he chooses and isolated life where he can consider what he's become and how he got there, in relative peace. Spoiler end.
SF people was so funny first time i saw them. For a dark story it was nice touch to have in it.


About the end spoiler

I didnt like it cause he ended up like he lost his mind not knowing he is doing and thinking he is back in space in Nomad. he lost his mind. If he was himself and wanted to live among SF people it would a good ending.
 

gully_foyle

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Okay, just reread it after said 20++ years. It was as good as I remembered, but life goes on, I will still go on reading SF, I still have my TBR stack and my list of books to look out for as I lurk the SF section of musty old bookshops.

First observation: it's a blessing that short novels were the norm back then. Bester packed it all into such a condensed form, these days it would be a four book trilogy of a 1000 pages each.

Second observation: Conn, you nailed it when you said the Count of Monte Christo. I hadn't made the connection till you said it.

Third: Tiger, Tiger is a much more literary title than Stars, My blah blah blah. The title comes from a poem by William Blake, which I kinda expected to be on the first page....
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Read the rest of the poem, it fits the story.

Fourth: The ending signifies Gully's elevation to that of a messiah. The scientific people are his flock. His future is the stars. I don't think it was an anti-climax at all. Gully Foyle became a god.
 

Spade

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I think this book is highly overrated. I can appreciate it, I guess... but I don't understand where all the love comes from. I do like Alfred Bester, though. His short story "Fondly Fahrenheit" is one of my favorites.
 

j d worthington

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Gully: I can't agree with you that "Tiger, Tiger" is more fitting; personally, I'd say they're both very fitting titles, but they address different aspects of the book. The title taken from the Blake poem fits Gully as we first know him, the TSMD title fits the culmination of the character after he has gone through all the experiences of the novel and grown from the savage beast into a true human being. So I'd still have to opt for the latter title being the more appropriate for the novel overall, as it captures the ultimate development of the story.

Incidentally, the first stanza of Blake's poem has been included as an epigraph for every edition I've seen, so I'm very surprised (if I'm reading your post correctly) that it wasn't there in yours....

And yes, Monte Cristo was very much the model here; Anthony Boucher noted this when he did his excellent two-volume anthology, A Treasury of Great Science Fiction (which, incidentally, is where I first came across this novel):

A treasury of great science fiction; [WorldCat.org]

And yes, that should be "Poul", not "Paul" in the link....:rolleyes:
 

j d worthington

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I was surprised too, because my memory said it should have been there.
That may make that edition an anomaly... for all you know, you could be sitting on top of a goldmine!;) Seriously, such things do sometimes make a particular edition more valuable; but this may be common with editions of the book, and I've only run into those that do have it....
 

Connavar

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Gully: I can't agree with you that "Tiger, Tiger" is more fitting; personally, I'd say they're both very fitting titles, but they address different aspects of the book. The title taken from the Blake poem fits Gully as we first know him, the TSMD title fits the culmination of the character after he has gone through all the experiences of the novel and grown from the savage beast into a true human being. So I'd still have to opt for the latter title being the more appropriate for the novel overall, as it captures the ultimate development of the story.

Incidentally, the first stanza of Blake's poem has been included as an epigraph for every edition I've seen, so I'm very surprised (if I'm reading your post correctly) that it wasn't there in yours....

And yes, Monte Cristo was very much the model here; Anthony Boucher noted this when he did his excellent two-volume anthology, A Treasury of Great Science Fiction (which, incidentally, is where I first came across this novel):

A treasury of great science fiction; [WorldCat.org]

And yes, that should be "Poul", not "Paul" in the link....:rolleyes:
Since he says that mantra or whatever its is fitting the story is called The Stars My Destination and specially cause of how the story ends.

But i wish it was called Tiger,Tiger ! not only cause of Gully's character and look but its such a good name too.

I can see though why its called TSMD is more romantic and lighter than the actual story of the book. It surely draws in more readers that dont know of Bester and famous book.
 

Dave

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I'm loath to admit I've only just read this for the first time, because it really does deserve its status as one of the best SF novels. I have read 'The Demolished Man' some time ago, and this is in another league.

When I began, I thought 'Tiger, Tiger' was the better title, but after finishing I agree that TSMD is best. I did begin to guess some of the ending, once the burning man had appeared a few times. I also guessed that the prologue would not have been there unless it was going to be important, and although the Jaunting and Conflict between Inner and Outer Planets initially seemed irrelevant, they became very relevant.

I had never realised before that 'The Tomorrow People' TV series had stolen the word 'Jaunt'. Of course, you could argue that the TV series was just showing a respect for Bester's work.

There are so many other ideas in this book that are sci-fi staples, but must have been very original when it was written that I was quite overwhelmed. And you also get a roller-coaster action-packed ride in addition. What more could you ask for?
 

Razorback

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I’m basically in Ian’s camp on this one. I liked Stars a lot and was disappointed in The Demolished Man. Extro/The Computer Connection sounds interesting.
 
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