Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

The sixth novel from the Library of America’s new anthology American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s (SF American)

In the upcoming weeks I’ll be reviewing each of these nine novels. The books are available in our SF section, and further materials about them are available at the Library of America’s website.

In England The Stars My Destination is still known under Bester’s original title, Tiger! Tiger!, a reference to William Blake’s famous poem.

I’m not the sort of person who is decisive on the topic of favorites. Ask me my favorite song, or band, or movie and I’ll ruminate for minutes before giving you an indeterminate and disparate list. But ask for my favorite SF novel and you’ll get an immediate answer: it’s The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

Why? Well, I think it’s mostly because of Gully Foyle—our protagonist, and one of the most dynamic characters in literature. Foyle begins the novel as little more than a dehumanized beast and ends up a supremely moral being, though he rapes, murders, blackmails, and terrorizes his way there. The characters surrounding Foyle are at least as fascinating and range from a spoiled albino heiress who can only see in infrared to the members of an ascetic cult who have removed all five of their senses.  The plot revolves around an epic revenge quest—mostly in a The Count of Monte Cristo mode, but with a touch of Moby Dick as well. The pacing is break-neck and Bester’s writing is up to the task, even exploding across the page in varying fonts and calligrammes for the book’s conclusion.

If I go on much longer I’ll start to fawn over the book a little, and probably give you unrealistic expectations, so I’ll stop now. Let’s just say it’s exciting and daring, a must read for SF fans, and a great place to start for anyone who wants to begin dabbling in the genre.

Review by Matthew


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on December 11, 2012 by in Book Review, Fiction, Science Fiction and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: