I just finished reading The Stars My Destination (originally published as Tiger! Tiger!) by Alfred Bester. I didn’t mean to pause from the Count of Monte Cristo. I only meant to read the preview in the Kindle store, as someone had mentioned it as one of the best Sci Fi novels ever and I’d never heard of it. Well, after reading the preview I had to buy it, and promptly read it in one afternoon.
The novel takes place in the 25th century, after our solar system has been colonized and humans have all learned to teleport, or jaunt as they call it (after the first man to teleport, Jaunte). Except that the distance of teleporting is limited to 1000 miles each jump, and no one can teleport through empty space.
The story starts with our protagonist, Gully Foyle, an unskilled everyman crew member of the ship Nomad, stranded alone on the wreck of the ship. He is trapped alone, the only survivor, stuck in the only room of the ship that is still pressurized–a tiny locker.
After surviving alone in cramped darkness and silence for six months, a ship finally comes. He signals them for help and they stop–then pass him by. Gully swears revenge on the ship, and the novel follows his obsessive pursuit to find out who was on that ship and gave the order to leave him to die, and how he’ll make them pay.
The plot actually has a couple parallels to the Count of Monte Cristo, besides just the desire for revenge.
At one point Gully is sent to a ‘hospital’, which is really an underground prison. He meets a woman there who he speaks with through the walls of his cell. Over months of speaking she educates him to become less of a brute, more charming and knowledgeable of the world. They then escape together. This is exactly what happened to Dantes in prison when he meets the Abbe Faria, except the Abbe did not escape with him.
Secondly, after escaping Gully comes into a vast sum of money and creates a new persona for himself: an extravagant playboy, a clown, someone obsessed with notoriety who throws his money about with abandon. He uses his fame to get close to his enemies, and get the information he needs for revenge. This is another direct parallel to how Dantes turns himself into the Count.
This book is packed full of interesting ideas and fun action. Every character is memorable and vivid. I dare you to read the preview on Amazon and see if you don’t buy it. Highly recommended for anyone even remotely interested in sci fi.