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Gully Foyle is my nameTerra is my nationDeep space is my dwelling placeThe stars my destinationSci fi from its formative days is funny Not funny ha ha not always anyway , but funny weird at least for me I am often unable to get over the clunky writing and wispy plots despite the many cool ideas on display Sometimes even a premise as cool as a galaxy spanning empire held together by the prods and pokes of a few cognoscenti using an arcane sociological science still can t make a plodding plot with artless prose and paper thin characters readable to me sorry, Mr Asimov At other times the founders of the genre can suffer by comparison to their descendants who have taken the ideas that, while new and fresh when they used them, seem old and tired when you come to the foundational works after seeing them presented elsewhere, often withcompelling characters and well crafted prose Then there are books like this one, written by Alfred Bester, and you understand why some classics are still classics.Gully Foyle is a gutter boy A low, brainless brute barely able to act as a Mechanic s Mate 3rd class on the spaceship Nomad , oiling and wiping the machines and acknowledged by his superiors to be a human dead end Then the passing ship Vorga left him to rot, the only survivor on a crippled ship in the void So, in five seconds, he was born, he lived, and he died After thirty years of existence and six months of torture, Gully Foyle, the sterotype Common Man, was noThe key turned in the lock of his soul and the door was opened.A purpose had been found that could open up all of the potential this beast man had within him vengeance From here we follow Foyle as he lifts himself out of the pit physically at least by his bootstraps and ingeniously contrives both his own rescue and the plans that set him on the path that will allow him to fulfill his oath I find you, Vorga I find you, I kill you, Vorga I kill you filthy All the while his spirit stews in the morass from which his body could escape and he becomes a rapist, thug and purveyor of violence in pursuit of his goal No price is too high to reach it, whether it be imprisonment or social isolation no obstacle can stand in his way, whether it be the most powerful institutions in the world, or the human dignity of those he uses Beware, Gully Foyle is on his way.Bester s prose is well wrought and carries us briskly along with Foyle on his quest, from the gutter tongue of the 25th century into which he was born to therefined prose of the high society parties which Foyle must infiltrate Bester also does a fine job of describing his world and his ability to portray everything from the rigours of Gully s six month survival in a broken hulk in deep space a gruelling moment at a time, to the weird and wonderful portrayal of Foyle s trauma induced synaesthesia later in the book is astonishing I was dazzled There are alsoideas packed into one slim volume than you can shake a stick at and all of them are foundational in the genre cybernetic implants for physical and mental enhancement, personal teleportation with many of the social ramifications of its existence worked out in the story , world ending manufactured compounds that leave the future of humanity lying on a knife s edge, a world controlled by pseudo feudal multinational corporations, a forgotten society of future primitives living on a lonely asteroid, tattooing their faces with hideous designs, and worshipping a debased form of the scientific method and the list goes on Why were they able, at their best, to do this kind of thing in the old days in one slim volume, while today a writer would have taken half of these ideas, or even one, and written a two thousand page multi volume epic out of it Add to that the cast of characters that are almost all equally memorable and well drawn the megalomaniac Presteign of Presteign, a man of wealth and power cognisant of little save his own desires and dignity his equally powerful daughter, the beautiful blind albino Olivia, an ice princess who sees the world in the infra red and electro magnetic spectrums and carries her own dark secrets the memorably named Jisbella McQueen Jiz to her friends, thanks very much a criminal miscreant both attracted to and repulsed by Foyle and the man with the death s head smile, Saul Dagenham, a scientist made hot by an accident that has left him a radioactive outcast, able to interact with others in only a limited way.I must admit that, while I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the start, I was minded to give it a three star rating until I came to the climax and Bester managed to turn a scarred, brutal criminal into an altruistic saviour for a mankind as lost and directionless as he had been One key had turned and made Gully Foyle into a remorseless machine for vengeance, another equally harsh set of trials then took this driven creature and made him into someone able to see the root of humanity s need and try his best to give them the key to their own awakening I challenge you, me Die or live and be great Blow yourselves to Christ gone or come and find me, Gully Foyle, and I make you men I make you great I give you the stars.What a great read Highly recommended Bester also gets extra points for having written the silver age Green Lantern oath, a ditty almost as cool as the one quoted above about Gully Foyle Also posted at Shelf Inflicted
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Tiger! ↮ 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 ever have a novel that you know is considered a classic of its genre yet you know absolutely nothing about it other than the title This is one of those for me I knew nothing about it other than the vague notion that it was an important sci fi novel, but when it popped up as a deal on Audible I took a chance on it and went in cold How d it work out Pretty well.A couple of centuries from now humanity has developed the ability to teleport themselves using only their minds in a practice called jaunting While it has revolutionized society in many ways it s limited to just a few hundred miles at most so spacecraft are still needed to ferry people and goods around the solar system Because people are always gonna be assholes there s a war raging among the Inner Planets and Outer Satellites.Gully Foyle is just a working class grunt with little education and even less ambition who had the bad luck to be on a ship that got blowed up real good as part of that war For six months he survives by staying in a small storage lock and scavenging supplies in the wreckage using a damaged space suit Deliverance seems at hand when he sees another ship named Vorga passing close by, but even though Gully sends out plenty of distress signals that couldn t be missed the other ship simply passes him by Enraged at being abandoned, Gully begins to showgumption than he ever has as he first manages to save his own life and then embarks a campaign to find and kill the people who left him to die When he finds himself caught in much larger schemes of powerful people his obsessive need for revenge puts him beyond any attempts to bribe or bully him.There s a lot of interesting stuff here that gets into some really big trippy sci fi concepts that seem way ahead of their time in many ways plus there s a kind of Count of Monte Cristo style story embedded in it too It s easy to see why this is so highly regarded and is considered a forerunner to cyberpunk Gully Foyle is also an interesting bastard of a character He starts out as this crude and violent man fully capable of crimes like murder and rape, and his journey eventually turns him into something muchthan that Yet because it s his unswerving desire for simple revenge driving him he s always got that primitive core just below the surface.Despite being published over 60 years ago it doesn t come across as that dated either Alfred Bester did a lot of well thought out world building as to what this space faring society that has also mental powers like telepathy and the ability to teleport would be like Some of the stuff he did here like a conflict between factions fighting for the resources of our solar system are still used today in sci fi like The Expanse series, and the idea of powerful corporations being as much a force as government has been used countless times as well The ending also seems like a leap forward to a kind of sci fi that something like 2001 would do a decade later It s a bold and ambitious story that seems ahead of its time in many ways, and I m glad that I took the opportunity to fill in a gap in my sci fi reading. WOW BOB WOWGULLY FOYLE IS FAST AND FURIOUS A MADMAN OUT FOR VENGEANCE, LEFT FOR DEAD NOT ONCE BUT TWICE HE IS HUMAN JUGGERNAUT, HE IS FORCE MAJEURE, HE IS BOTH ROCK AND HARD PLACE HE HURTLES THROUGH SPACE TIME MISADVENTURE, HE WEARS MANY FACES, A LOVER AND A RAPIST, THE MOST VIOLENT MAN IN THE ROOM, THE ANGRIEST BOY EVER, A HUMAN TIMEBOMB HIS FACIAL TATTOOSA TIGER, A TIGER BURNING BRIGHTTHE ONLY GIRL FOR HIM ANOTHER SOCIOPATH THE ONLY DESTINATION FOR HIM THE STARS LITERALLY THIS HOLY NEANDERTHAL IS HUMANITY S FUTURE HOPE a thrilling narrative a challenging protagonist a metaphysical and surprisingly hopeful ending a great classic An excellent analysis of the Trump candidacy and events leading up to his election as 45 Uses both his perspective and that of the anonymous supporter to chilling effect Guest appearance by Ivanka near the end Forgive me my little joke when I picked up the classic by Bester, I had no idea what I was in for, except a classic sci fi in space, with a rather appealing title.The main character is Gully Foyle, a spacer with no real motivation in life Content to be lazy, without purpose beyond existence, he s a bit of a drifter, until a spaceship he is traveling on is destroyed Gully discovers a will to live and manages to keep himself barely alive, leaving the tiny reinforced space he exists in to scavenge supplies five minutes at a time in his barely functional spacesuit At last, he sees a ship passing close by He sends up a signal flare The ship slows, almost stops, and then turns away From here, the story takes off, as Gully discovers the heat of revenge as the one thing that can give him purpose.One might think that discovering a passion could connect Gully to humanity, and possibly even the reader, a previously amorphous blob of a human who was content to vegetate his way through life But no, most certainly, absolutely no, because Gully is a psychopath In his quest for revenge, he meets a woman, Robin, who teaches the previously head blind the skill of jaunting or limited teleportation She has the unfortunate distinction of being a one way telepath, so those around her can hear her thoughts when she isn t concentrating Gully, it becomes clear, has a moment where he can understand what she is feeling thinking, but doesn t actually empathize, instead choosing to ignore her humanity in his fit of rage and frustration Throughout the rather short book, Gully goes through transformations, each a step on his goal, each transformation followed by a fall back into the depths He is caught, he spends time in prison, he meets another woman and dare we recognize it falls into his version of love But as is everything with Gully, his love is the negative side of the emotion, and though it can offer salvation, it is obvious what his choice will be.It is an inverse of the levels of hell each reinvention has Gully reinventing himself to becomesurfacely human, moving up the ladder of society into something that appearssocially acceptable but that remains rotten at the core Depending on the reader s point of view, he may becomeaccessible, but really he is the same single minded psychopath, single minded in pursuit of his goal and unable to recognize or empathize with others At one point he thinks he falls in love but as with everything, he s fallen in love with an idea, an instant of emotion and not anything real.It s a brilliant book Bester does an unbelievable job at getting at Gully s emotion I found myself taking a break at each transformation, needing to get a way from the miasma of hate for some untainted air While Gully transforms, we re offered commentary on each section of society he encounters, from the parody of scientists on an asteroid to the high society of the richest men in the universe and their cloistered women It s one of those amazing little stories that you understand as you read is offering up a scathing social indictment and yet wraps you up in its fast paced plotting I can t remember the last book I read with a main character so filled with hate and rage, that ignores every opportunity for redemptive actions.The ending was a little slap dash and has me wondering if dropping acid at least once during a book was a basic requirement of some of the sci fi boundary pushers thinking of Zelazny and Philip K Dick here Well, no matter, but I think it would have beenpowerful had Bester relied on words instead of word pictures The circular nature of the ending is asthetically pleasing, although someone pushing the rules of the book No matter, it was powerful nonetheless.We can all only hope that Trump will experience something similar. Re Read 6 5 17 Reading this is like being on fire, snarling like a Tyger, and being the dumb brute and the intellectual mastermind at the same time Reading it a second time is like chumming up with a psychopath and learning that he s really the good guy because everyone else is just as crazy as him.And then, what else can we expect when practically everyone can Jaunte teleport practically anywhere they want Society is radically changed in the next five hundred years, and it s not just the tech It s the human mind and all their baser instincts let loose.Still a fantastic tale Original review Wow I can see now why this is considered one of the greats of sci fi It ought to be required reading for anyone setting out to know the history of the field and what sparked the imagination of so many other writers The very ending was somewhat weak, but the climax was great The emotions were the strongest part of the whole tale Gut wrenching and visceral doesn t begin to describe it Great setup, straightforward adventure revenge tale, and a great twist Loved it, loved it, loved it.I just learned there might be a movie in development Oh, my lord, I can t believe how excited I am about this.It gets my heart pumping precisely eight timesthan when I learned that Rama was in development.SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Ok I m not a little girl But I FEEL like one, and isn t that what really counts Gully Foyle, that s my name, me Alfred Bester has created in Gulliver Foyle one of Science Fiction s great characters The protagonist of Bester s 1956 novel The Stars My Destination is a brutish, driven by internal energies force of nature and provides the most memorable element of this archetypal SF story.That and jaunting.Bester describes a future society where personal teleportation jaunting has transformed human society in virtually every way, from economic to sociological to legal This anthropological paradigm shift of society is vaguely reminiscent of Poul Anderson s 1954 novel Brainwave.Imaginative and surreal, this falls into the Philip K Dick sub genre of weird SF. I think that this book pretty much just blew my mind I mean, am I crazy, or is this one of the most profound things ever writtenYou pigs, you You goof 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 Alright, you probably have to read the book to appreciate that, and you should Can I entice you further by saying that an android delivers the meaning of life in a radiation fueled moment of lucidity, before collapsing, about five pages before that speech How about the fact that this book contains an evil millionaire, an albino with abnormal perception, a gorgeous telepath, a radioactive courier, a slick super spy, a cold hearted, red headed jailbird, and a bionic psychopath bent on revenge Okay, I am pulling out my very last card Wait for it The Count of Monte Cristo in space That s right Except in this version, he finds enlightenment and awakens humanity in the end I could see the comparison between these two masterpieces right away, but at first everything seemed to be happening much too fast How could he cram the years and years of slowly simmering vengeance of Edmund Dantes into a paltry two hundred pages But then I started thinking This is the future where teleportation makes travel instantaneous where the body and mind can be upgraded with hypno learning and a little re wiring where information can be gained with the latest psychological coercion techniques In short, this is a world where patience is no longer required for revenge Like Dantes, Gully is a simple man awakened to all of his great potential by a fiery need for vengeance But Gully is ten timesimpulsive and rash than Dantes ever was he kills indiscriminately and without conscience And when he begins to awaken, he wakes up completely.This book contains one of the most colorful, interesting casts of characters that I have ever come across I can definitely see that Alfred Bester had a history in comics many of these characters seem like comic book heroes in the making I can also see that this was written in the 1950 s It s nice that he could envision women fighting against their oppression, but I am a little sad that he saw the double standard placed on women continuing for hundreds of years Also, I can almost see him delighting in his own progressiveness when he repeatedly describes Robin Wednesbury as a gorgeous negro girl,times than he describes the race of anyone else in the book stick it in your eye, racist pigsBut it comes across as a bit glaring to someone raised in the Sesame Street, avoid mentioning race at all costs generation Some of the technological advances that he envisioned are quite a hoot as well For example, he imagined that teleportation would end the need for communications systemsIn an age when communication systems were virtually extinct when it was far easier to jaunte directly to a man s office for a discussion than to telephone or telegraph I think that he severely underestimated the lengths that people will go to to avoid speaking face to face.Perfect Musical PairingTool LateralusI ve seen these guys twice in concert, and I love them for their sweeping, dynamic, ten minute long songs They put on quite a show with crazy mind bending imagery and clothes or lack thereof Their shows always make me feel like I would probably be gettingout of them if I were on mind altering drugs of some sort, which isn t really a good thing for me huge fan of reality and lifelong abstainer The ending of this book makes me feel almost the same way it s just a little bit too out there for me to fully appreciate, but I still found it incredibly moving This song is all about transcending our basic, human selves. Grab no guesses you Read it, is all.This book has been quite the ride Gully Foyle is your guide in a future where teleportation jaunting is the main mode of transportation and where interplanetary tensions seem to mount up to an unavoidable Solar System War Gully Foyle is a guide you might not like very much, but boy, will he take you places You ll feast your eyes on locations such as Nightmare Theatre, Freak Factory, sub terranean prisons, a Sedative Garden and an asteroid consisting of salvaged wreckage, inhabited by savage scientists On top of that you ll be taking short trips to the Moon, Mars and beyond You ll meet colourful and some extravagantly colourless characters on the way, death head Dagenham being one of my personal favorites Better be quick though because Foyle isn t waiting up He moves fast and in straight lines, through walls, through people, through morals, through conventions, through dimensional limits, through action packed chapters that will make your head spin Why might you not like Gully Foyle, you ask He s a cockroach An angry one at that, with a simple mind set on revenge Anything that stands in his way, anyone who tries to trample him, is in for a surprise He survives against all odds And you know what stuff that doesn t kill you really does Right Your guide will evolve, his instinct for survival will always be that split second quicker than whatever wants to end him.And as your guide grows stronger you might, despite a very shaky start, grow to like him Don t be surprised if you would see an ugly, tattooed face next to the encyclopedia entry of character development It s Gully Foyle, the developing character extraordinaire He might start off as a man too easy for trouble, too slow for fun, too empty for friendship, too lazy for love, a shell of a man throwing the angry question into the void What s a matter, me Help, you goddamn gods Help, is all , but as this cockroach grows stronger, he also grows wiser The cockroach will meet himself A confrontation that, if handled succesfully, will take him to the stars. The jaunte rules supreme I read this bookthan 20 years ago and finally I got to read it again It s been for some time on my TBR Pile of long ago SF Books There s many SF classics to be read, and I have read most of them.Often, when reading books from the good old days , the datedness of the tale, writing, and characters is very obvious to the modern eye Not so with this book.SF is a difficult and transient literature at the best of times It claims to treat of the future But nothing dates harder than SF The Stars My Destination is one of those books that fends off the test of time.When I read this book in the late 80 s as a young teenager, I read it under the title Tiger Tiger , which it s a title I much prefer.This is Cyberpunk before William Gibson invented it it has got corporate intrigue, a mysterious McGuffin PyRE , an amoral hero and a super cool woman,Still one of my favourites.