I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In this pulse-quickening novel, Alfred Bester imagines a future in which people "jaunte" a thousand miles with a single thought, where the rich barricade themselves in labyrinths and protect themselves with radioactive hit men - and where an inarticulate outcast is the most valuable and dangerous man alive. The Stars My Destination is a classic of technological prophecy and timeless narrative enchantment by an acknowledged master of science fiction.
You pigs, you. You rut like pigs, is all. You got the most in you, and you use the least. You hear me, you? Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties. All a you. Every you...
You’d think that something written in the 1950s wouldn’t have too much resonance now, in 2016, wouldn’t you? And yet, The Stars My Destination still speaks to me. Now we have so many advantages. Things like the internet, for example, which is so useful and fun. And yet so many people seem to use it only to be nasty and unkind. Got a million in us and spend pennies.
I can’t say that I liked the main character, Gully Foyle, but I couldn’t ignore him either. I wanted to know what happened to him. I was pleasantly surprised to realize how many female characters Bester employed, all with substantive roles. I also enjoyed Gully’s vernacular speech, a foreshadowing of novels like A Clockwork Orange or Riddley Walker.
Plus, Jaunting (teleportation) seemed to be a great way to completely change society. And yet it changes in completely predictable ways. The wealthy create labyrinths to protect their wealth and their women (for you have to know the co-ordinates of a location to jaunte there). Back to the future, women stuck in the home once more. And still, men with dollar signs in their eyes seem to be in control of things.
Who would think that gutter-talking, face-tattooed, criminal Gully would end up being the key to change? Got a genius in him and thinks crazies. Challenging the status quo of money and big corporations running everything.
I’ve heard from several people that this novel is like The Count of Monte Cristo in space. That’s inspired me to finally read that famous work in the near future.