Blarg's Reviews > The Stars My Destination

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
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M 50x66
's review
Jul 16, 2010

really liked it
Read in July, 2010

This book was published in 1956 – a time when traveling to the moon would still be science fiction for quite a few years.

Many of its ideas were astonishing then and its plot of blind revenge facilitated by technology could easily be translated into a modern tale that would be brilliant. The story arc related to an analogue to nuclear weapons obviously reflects the reality of life in 1956 -- barely a decade after the first use of nuclear weapons in war.

The hero of the book is an absolute nobody who is wronged in a way that taxes his very soul. His burning rage for revenge is matched only by his frustration at being powerless to enact retribution. I have never read a story where someone carried such rage and desire for revenge for so long.

Apparently some of this book's themes were responsible for inspiring much of the Cyberpunk genre. The Stars my Destination also represents the first published description of synesthesia, now known to be a real though bizarre affliction.

I would like to think that the author’s concept of the Gouffre Martel underground prison of complete darkness remains imaginary but it would not surprise me to learn that it exists somewhere today. A place where all prisoners are in the dark and the guard see via infrared goggles.

I particularly enjoyed the clever foreshadowing and the subtle hints along the way at what might be really happening, and then understanding how.

The writing was crisp in a way that seems hard to find today.

I'd say this is a must-read for science fiction fans but that this book isn't likely to be loved by those who have yet to consider what life might be like 400 years in the future.
(I re-read it in Jan 2013)
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