Let start off by saying I was not one of those kids in school that got the meaning of life out of “The Scarlett Letter”. Nor did I walk away from “Lord of the Rings” with a deeper understanding of society. I did, though, appreciate the adventure and action on the island of unsupervised children. I didn’t care for the story about an outcast pregnant woman.
I received “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester as a gift from my wife. She received it in the mail through a European website called “Blind Date with a Book”. The premise is fun and different and I would certainly do it again. You end up choosing a book based on four or five characteristics. The book is sent through the mail, you unwrap it, and read! You have no idea what it is going to be until you open it up. Think ‘golden ticket’ from “Willy Wonka” type of excitement!!
“Synesthesia”. “Deep Space”. “Colonization”. “25th Century”. “Revenge”.
The book is praised as to be the best science fiction book. Ever. Neil Gaiman does an introduction (albeit, at the end) in the edition I have. The front pages are covered with praise from many. Knowing nothing about the story, I went in with an open mind.
Quite honestly, the premise of the whole books hangs on the revenge of one man who seeks those that failed to rescue him off from a deserted space station. I would think that this revenge would become mute once he was rescued. I certainly wouldn’t hold a grudge against a stranger that passed me by, especially if I was rescued at a later moment. Regardless, I found it a little weak to believe in. Without going into spoilers, here are my thoughts.
I continued to have a hard time with becoming engaged in the story line throughout the first half of the book. There were many times I wanted to put the book down and I never do that. I kept telling myself “If this is the greatest sci-fi story ever, it must pick up!”. So, I continued and pushed through.
I didn’t have a hard time with the science fiction aspect of the book. In fact, I found that the most intriguing. The author certainly was not short of imagination. He created a world with hardly any limits. Considering this was written in 1956, I have much respect for him. His take on teleportation was different. I enjoyed the tattooing of Gully’s face, the removal of the tattoo, and then how he dealt with the side-effects.
The plot line is something I had issue with. I felt the plot seemed to ‘skip’ and only was able to move on as something was created to allow it (As any good novel should!). The second half of the book felt like he had rewritten “The Count of Monte Cristo” as a Sci-Fi story. But, by again creating ‘escapes’, he was able to move the story line along. The novel covers a lot of ground in his quest for revenge and ends on an exciting note. I guess if the book was just a little bit smoother, I wouldn’t feel like I had just driven over so many speed bumps.
I must admit though, after having digested the novel for a few days, I am really impressed. I would like to reread it, knowing what I know now and take it in as a whole. I feel bad that I really couldn’t get into it in the beginning, but I am glad I finished it! If there was an open spot on your ‘To Be Read’ list and you were looking for something a little different…” The Stars My Destination” would be my choice!!
4 Galactic Stars/5 Galactic Stars