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The Stars My Destination

Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,067 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Marooned in outer space after an attack on his ship, Nomad, Gulliver Foyle lives to obsessively pursue the crew of a rescue vessel that had intended to leave him to die.

When it comes to pop culture, Alfred Bester (1913-1987) is something of an unsung hero. He wrote radio scripts, screenplays, and comic books (in which capacity he created the original Green Lantern Oath). But Bester is best known for his science fiction novels, and The Stars My Destination may be his finest creation. With its sly potshotting at corporate skullduggery, The Stars My Destination seems utterly contemporary, and has maintained its status as an underground classic for over 50 years.

©1956 Alfred Bester; copyright renewed 1984 by Alfred Bester; special restored text of this edition copyright 1996 by the Estate of Alfred Bester; Introduction copyright 1996 by Neil Gaiman (P)2017 Tantor

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  • Frederick
  • Warren, NJ, United States
  • 03-26-18

Magnificent

Bester is my favorite Science Fiction writer. I first read this book more than thirty years ago and Instead of aging Bester’s prose just gets better and better. His necessary interpretation or 300 years going forward is entertaining and clever.
The narration is superb and it adds to the enjoyment rather than distracts.

55 of 57 people found this review helpful

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STILL AMAZINGLY GOOD AFTER 62 YEARS

A Science Fiction classic by anyone's standards! A 25th century Count of Monte Christo, the classic story of revenge that Alfred Bester used for inspiration to write what was originally titled Tiger Tiger. I first read the Stars My Destination in 1957 at the age of 7 and was thunderstruck even at that young age. I've continued to re read it every year or two since and it never loses its ability to thrill me. When I saw the audio version available for the first time I was filled with excitement and a bit of trepidation. How would a narrator interpret the characters I knew so well after reading this story 40 times or more over six decades? I practically know the dialogue by heart. Listening was an interesting experience. The narrator certainly did not sound like what I had imagined the characters sounding like. But how could anyone? After a bit I got used to his voice(s) and overall I found the audio version of this amazing story well worth the listen. Listen to it with an open mind and remember that it was written in the mid 1950s when the average person's understanding of the universe and space travel was not what it is today. One of my favorite books of all time.

84 of 89 people found this review helpful

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Classic SF pulp adventure

This sci-fi classic was a dated yet still exciting and entertaining pulp adventure that broke ground and used a lot of tropes that were not yet well-worn back in the day.

Gully Foyle is not a likeable hero. He's a low-born, gutteral, uneducated feral man, aptly expressed in the dialect Bester creates for the lower classes. We find him stranded as the sole survivor of a space wreck, pillaging supplies to prolong his miserable and hopeless existence out in the void, when another ship cruises by. Foyle sends out distress flares... and the ship passes him by, leaving him to die. Consumed with rage, Foyle swears to survive and wreak vengeance on the crew of the ship that left him to die. "Kill you filthy!"

I used to be almost exclusively a SF and fantasy reader. One of the pleasures of expanding my literary horizons is that having now read many more classics and literary works than I used to, I recognize references even in my favorite genre novels. So I was a third of the way through the book when I realized that Bester was totally writing a SF version of The Count of Monte Cristo.

It's not a beat-for-beat copy with a space theme. Golly Foyle is a very different antihero than Edmond Dante. He's a brute, he's a liar and a swindler, he's also a rapist. And the people who did him wrong didn't care about his woman (he didn't have one) or his position (he had nothing). But like Edmond Dante, he turns from an uneducated sailor into a wealthy, refined gentleman who uses his immense wealth to train and equip himself and become a superhuman vengeance machine, while capering beneath the noses of his objects of vengeance without them realizing who he is.

The story goes weird places towards the end - time travel, multi-universe hopping, and psychic powers, all reflective of the era when it was written. (There is no real explanation ever given for how all of humanity just learned to "jaunt," or teleport.) But it's a great (short) epic and deserves its status as a classic in the field.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Timeless classic

Alfred Bester's The Stars my Destination is classic sci-fi from the 1950's that stands the test of time. Set far into the future, the 25th century, humans have settled the solar system out to Neptune. Along the way, jaunting was discovered which involves personal teleportation over distances up to 1000 miles. The resulting impact on society and the economy results in conflict between the inner and outer system. Gully Foyle is a nondescript mechanic 3rd class on a freighter that is the sole survivor of some unknown disaster. When his emergency beacon is ignored, he is driven by revenge to hunt down the perpetrators. At the same time, Foyle is pursued by many for the secrets the freighter was carrying of which he is unaware.

Bester employs many sci-fi elements with jaunting or personal teleportation being a major aspect. Space travel is routine with colonization extending out to a moon of Neptune. Inner versus outer system conflict mirrors the cold war situation at the time. Telepathy is also common with an unusual one way telepath who can only transmit. The special substance pyre is some sort of superweapon akin to a fusion bomb. Bester also creates unique social groups such a cargo cult living on an asteroid fashioned with salvaged spacecraft and a monkish aesthetic cult that severs all sensory nerves . Finally Bester explores long range teleportation with relativistic implications.

The narration is excellent with a wide range of characters with good distinction. Pacing and mood are well aligned with the plot and the voice of Gully is spot on. Even in the 25th century, this story will not be dated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Tiger Tiger

What a delight! Yes, it’s dated but that doesn’t diminish the enjoyment at all. Masterfully performed by Gerald Doyle; I’m sure to return to this one.
Life’s a freak!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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completely stunned and completely pleased!

best credit I've spent on Audible in a long time. this book gets more relevant as it ages. it reminds me of the Earth Abides, and it's grand storyline, its reach and its character richness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Count of MonteCristo with teleportation

A cyclical view of humanity, from a cyclical person bent on revenge, no matter the cost. Interesting reading, if the mechanics of plot supercede the, probably unknown at the time, mechanics of current spacial understanding. Only mildly tinged with the social views of the time, more in favor of maintaining the Dumas feel than to be politic.

8/10, will read again.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

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A Good Enough Read...But Mercilessly Stolen from Dumas

I enjoyed this book and will keep it in my collection. However, it is painfully obvious that the entire storyline is ripped from The Count of Monte Cristo. In virtually every plot development. He’s altered it to be, what I’d call in today’s world, “Steam Punk”. But it is Cristo all the way.

More frustrating than the copied plot, was the inconsistent character reactions. A couple of the characters - particularly the women - are written to behave in embarrassingly contradictory ways...within sentences. If this is a reflection of 50’s sexism or just poor writing is up to you. He does refer to an African-American with a prejudiced word (not the one you’re thinking) which does show its age.

Nevertheless, I found myself engrossed at several points in the book and listened eagerly to the conclusion within one week. The fact it was written more than 50 years ago and still is so readable does give it credit...though perhaps more to Alexander Dumas than to Mr. Bester.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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phenominal

great narrator, great story. never slows down and the protagonist is a great character to follow.

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“We stand apart and shape our own world”

Alfred Bester’s classic space opera novel The Stars My Destination (1956) is still impressive. Its ambitious style (which at times prefigures New Wave sf), plethora of concepts (many of which prefigure cyberpunk), cynical view of capitalism, romantic view of human potential, page-turning plot, themes relating to love, revenge, will/thought/imagination, and growth, and larger than life characters, especially the obsessive protagonist Gully Foyle, all hold up well today.

The novel begins with a prologue explaining 25th century solar system culture, “an age of freaks, monsters, and grotesques” in which teleporting by an act of will (jaunting) has transformed human transportation, economics, and relationships, and led to an endless war between the Outer Satellites and the Inner Planets.

In that future, Bester imagines many interesting cultural trends: jaunte jackals who scavenge the sites of accidents or disasters; women who chafe at being confined to the “seraglio” that is a reaction to the freedom that jaunting would otherwise give them; workers who jaunte to and from work and often quit too soon cause they can jaunte anywhere anytime; rich family corporation heads who show off their wealth by eschewing jaunting in favor of antique forms of transportation like cars and bicycles; Cellar Christians (and adherents of other faiths) who practice their banned religions in secret; people who voluntarily disconnect their nervous systems to abandon their five senses; commandos whose bodies are electronically enhanced to speed up so normal people move in slow motion; a form of torture which uses nightmarish virtual reality scenarios; a corporation which specializes in growing bacteria in giant vats on a moon; a robot bartender who suddenly gives insights like “Life is a freak. That’s its hope and glory”; and much more.

In that future, Bester’s anti-hero, the uneducated, brutish, ambitionless “stereotype Common Man” Gulliver Foyle, spends six months dying and yet remains alive when the Nomad, the spaceship on which he is Mechanic’s Mate 3rd class, is attacked and wrecked, leaving him the sole survivor, mostly confined to a coffin-like tool locker on the ship. When another spaceship, the Vorga, owned by the Presteign family corporation, happens by, raising his hopes for rescue but then goes on its way ignoring his desperate flares, Gully’s transformation into a unique uber-man driven by his obsession for revenge begins. Gully teaches himself to read the Nomad manuals and then finds a way to get the ship moving again, which sets in motion the plot of the novel, which reads like a compact 25th century Count of Monte Cristo.

Gully becomes a monster, a tiger, for revenge (“Rot you I kill you filthy!”), symbolized by the tiger-demon mask tattooed on his face by the Scientific People he happens upon, a research group lost in space and living for 200 years by scavenging wrecked spaceships. He will go on to rape and torture, to use brains rather than bombs, to assume a buffoonish Bruce Wayne-like false identity, to dabble in physics, chemistry, poetry, judo, and yoga, to speak more standard English than his original gutter variety, to try to control his emotions, to become Solar Enemy #1, and to single-mindedly pursue his revenge.

Supporting characters in the novel are compelling: Robin Wednesbury (a black “telesend” who can send her thoughts to others but can’t receive theirs), Jisbella McQueen (a thief who tries to get Gully to control himself and to think—Maybe your target should be not the Vorga itself but the person in charge of it?), Saul Dagenham (a radioactive skull-faced man who runs the biggest jaunting courier service), Peter Y’ang-Yeovil (a clever Central Intelligence chief who speaks Mandarin but doesn’t look Chinese), Presteign (a basilisk-smiling business clan chief who follows the credo “blood and money”), Olivia Presteign (his blind albino ice princess daughter who has some issues with sighted people). They are convincing and larger than life, less potent versions of Foyle.

Lurking in the background of Foyle’s vengeful ambitions and the war between the Outer Satellites and the Inner Planets is PyrE, a thermonuclear explosive element detonated by thought. The way in which Bester brings together PyrE, the major characters, and humanity in the transcendent climax of the novel is apt, satisfying, exhilarating, and neat. The way he writes the climax, with disorienting and poetic synesthesia and chronological tricks, is impressive. And Bester’s insights into human nature (hate, love, revenge, forgiveness, growth, etc.) are cool, like this one: “There’s no defense against betrayal, and we all betray ourselves.” The mental jaunting is something most sf would explain with scientific innovations and technological breakthroughs, but Bester wants to say it’s all a matter of mind over matter. Finally, the novel demonstrates that it’s up to each of us (or should be) how we shape ourselves and our world, whether we destroy everything or transcend.

Audiobook reader Gerard Doyle is fine, but perhaps his voice is not deep enough for the burning core of Gully Foyle.

Some things feel out of place in the 25th century future, like paper mail, and the sequence set in Gouffre Martel, an impossible to escape from prison, feels a little long and labored, but fans of Golden Age, classic, influential and well-written sf should read Bester’s novel.

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  • Keith Seymour
  • 05-29-19

Absolutely brilliant, epic sci-fi.

Despite thinking of myself as a Sci-Fi fan, I'd never encountered any Bester before this and as such had no expectations, but my god was I pleasantly surprised. Bester appears to be a master of the anti-hero protagonist (see also Demolished Man) and his scope for world building, nay universe building is second to none. He tells a fantastic story here, reaching through time and space with a huge arc of plot and character development. I was hooked from the first chapter, never once bored and ultimately satisfied by the end.

At first hearing of Gerard Doyle's narration I was a little unsure, but by the third page I was settled in and realised that he's a fantastic talent. To the extent now that I couldn't bear to not have him read Bester. It really is a marriage made in the stars. So make this your next Audible destination!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Grant Garden
  • 04-30-19

Tiger Tiger burning bright

This has to be the best novel ever written. Prophetic, Psychedelic, Astonishing, Incredible, MindBending, Unfeasible

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rich
  • 09-07-18

Excellent sci fi tale

I've read this book a few times over the years and I really enjoyed this audiobook version which was really well narrated.
Amazing that Alfred Bester published it in 1956, I've always thought it would make a fantastic film but it would need a visionary director and a huge budget to get it right.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • AlexDeDuck
  • 10-10-19

Wonderful cyberpunk novel

It's got everything a cyberpunk novel needs. The rough hero, the mysterious corporations. It's simply brilliant and I cannot recommend it enough.

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  • "dlavin10"
  • 06-17-19

Timeless Space Extravaganza

A visceral animated story that painted Steampunk pictures in my head. I heard about it in a podcast - The Sketpics Guide to the Universe.