"[Y]ou can no more read the same book again than you can step into the same river ... " Neil Gaiman, from the afterword of the "SF Masterworks" editio"[Y]ou can no more read the same book again than you can step into the same river ... " Neil Gaiman, from the afterword of the "SF Masterworks" edition I have of The Stars My Destination.
When I first read this book some ten years ago, I found it to be brilliant. I had never read anything like it and turned my understanding of print sci-fi around and opened so many doors for me that previously I never even knew existed. I had previously believed that Science Fiction worked best on the screen rather than the page whereas Fantasy worked best on the page rather than the screen. But I read this book and realised how wrong I was. This was art at its very best. Given its impact on me and its role as a catalyst to a wider world of Science Fiction novels, how could I give it anything other than five stars?
But beyond that, taking out the personal impact it had on me and looking at it obejectively, it would still be a five star book. It tells the story of a wronged man who seeks revenge and the animalistic levels he sinks to in order to get that revenge. Or at least, that is how the books starts. Where it ends up is impossible to say without giving away spoilers. Suffice to say that while the protagonist seeks revenge the reader, in turn, sees something different and the science fiction setting of the story becomes essential and not merely the background. This tale couldn't work in a different genre, it has to be science fiction for the tale to be told and like a lot of the New Wave of science fiction it turned the camera inside rather than let it linger outside. What could easily have turned into a "space opera adventure" story instead becomes a fierce tale of one man strugglling who doesn't even realise that he is struggling at all. This is science fiction at its very best; a human tale in an inhuman setting. The future is coming but can our concept of humanity survive it? Read this book and find out....more