Book Review 2008 #8: The Stars my Destination

Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination is a classic of SF I’ve only gotten around to reading now. A gift from Arref.

Like I said in a previous entry, why did I wait so long to read this? Bester’s depiction of a future world where nearly everyone can jaunte, or teleport, and his protagonist Gully Foyle is a classic of SF and now I know why.
The plot is strongly reminiscent of Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, complete with an undereducated, imprisoned protagonist who escapes and uses the power and wealth he falls into as a tool against his enemies. However, its more than that. Bester explores the implications of a society where everyone can teleport. What happens to privacy in homes? How do you imprison someone? How does the social structure change?
And Bester doesn’t even stop there, when the nature of the real Macguffin that was aboard Foyle’s ship is revealed, and even beyond that, the true abilities that Foyle displays.
Sure, by the standards of today, there are a few weaknesses in the plot and the writing–characterization, mostly, of the characters outside of Foyle himself. Still, the book holds up today very well indeed.
Its clear that The Stars My Destination is one of those novels that anyone who considers themselves educated in the seminal texts of SF must read. Let me clarify that though, since it makes it sound like its a chore to read. The Stars My Destination is fun, engaging, well written and entertaining. If you enjoy SF and you haven’t read it–do so.