October 24, 2010

Something Wonderful: The Stars My Destination, Chapter 1

Created by Tom O'Bedlam at "Spoken Verse" which is far and away the finest poetry source on You Tube if not the entire Internet. Subscribe @ YouTube - SpokenVerse's Channel

Tom notes, accurately, that The Stars My Destination is "the Best SF novel ever written - according to some experts. There's not much doubt it's the Best Space Opera of all time. Yet many SF enthusiasts have never heard of it. It made a great impression on me when I first read it - more than any other novel. It starts by quoting Tom O'Bedlam's Song - not a coincidence.

It's a tour-de-force, a work of creative genius, daring to take liberties that no novel had ever taken before. It was also printed with the title, "Tiger!, Tiger!". Nothing like it had ever been written before. The story has been compared with The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

A movie of the same name is scheduled for release in 2012.

"Bester used to write comics (now called Graphic Novels) as well as TV shows such as The Green Lantern. It has enough plot for five novels - Bester never seems to run out if outrageous ideas. The science is dubious and often plain wrong - for instance he says that food cannot be kept in tin cans because tin crumbles to dust in the absolute zero of space - but of course tin cans are steel, not tin. Somebody called it "A work of art made out of junk" One quirk is that he took the names of many characters from British Towns.

"It was written in about 1953 before Star Trek, before any Space Exporation, before SF became respectable. At that time SF was considered "far-fetched" and restricted to pulp magazines - traditionally adorned with pictures of girls in bra and panties being attacked by bug-eyed monsters."

Posted by Vanderleun at October 24, 2010 8:50 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Oh God, no, don't tell me they're going to make a movie out of The Stars My Destination.

Hollywood could not, period, end paragraph, end chapter. The final scene alone would send anybody west of Anaheim into gibbering fits. They couldn't even make District 9. The best they could do would be teleporting into naked women's bedrooms and Gully Foyle arriving at the party in a railroad train. Oh, and lots of gosh-wow fireworks, which are important to the story but not the central bit.

At least tell me it isn't being made by Californians. Please? Anybody? Bueller?


Posted by: Ric Locke at October 24, 2010 9:30 PM

It was written in 1956. I read it serialized in Galaxy and I definitely wasn't seven years old.

Posted by: chuck at October 24, 2010 9:37 PM

They'd better never make Out of the Silent Planet or Perelandra, either. It might be okay for them to make That Hideous Strength, but the irony would be lost on them, I fear, so best to let it stay between the covers.

Posted by: Jewel at October 24, 2010 10:47 PM

Tin cans not usable? One can at least defend this one. Tin cans are called that because the steel cans are lined with tin - or were when that book was written, anyway. Very cold temperatures would destroy the lining, causing very acute corrosion problems inside the tins after the tins were warmed up.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at October 25, 2010 6:46 AM

The Demolished Man is a lot more film-able, in some ways (ie, saner and more like a formula mystery/thriller, at least most of the time). But I have to say that the spectacle value of The Stars My Destination is pretty amazing. The problem is that it would be awfully hard to make the flick without making it a paean to violence... I guess in many ways it's just hardboiled in an ultra-Mickey Spillane level of violence, though.

Posted by: Maureen at October 25, 2010 3:18 PM

I dread another "Starship Trooper" level debacle.

The suits that make the decisions are NOT SF fans; hell, I doubt if any of them read anything other than Billboard and Insider.


Posted by: bud at October 25, 2010 8:14 PM

A great, great novel. I found an on line e-book version, complete with all of the text graphics, but I did not write down where I found it. I sent a copy to Gerald a couple of years ago.

Posted by: Fat Man at October 25, 2010 9:39 PM


I normally don't disagree with you about much. And I've loved that Alfred Bester novel since I first read it 30+ years ago. But I will state for the record that E. E. "Doc" Smith pwned the space opera genre with his Lensmen series. If you want to argue novel versus series, that's fine, but I think that Smith's work is far and away the best of this particular type of fiction.

Tangentially related: last week I was on a cruise with my wife and I saw a guy with some serious facial tatoos that immediately brought to mind the protagonist from TSMD. I did think that this tattoo removal, should he ever seek it, would be somewhat less painful. Lasers probably sting a bit less than needles dipped in salicylic acid which, if memory serves, is how the ink was removed in the novel.

Now I need to go pull out my copy and read it again.

Posted by: physics geek at October 26, 2010 7:46 PM

The best SF novel ever written? I'd dispute that, but whether or not it's so...some of us are still pitching.

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at October 29, 2010 3:14 PM

Fell out of bed fleeing down. This has brightened my day!

Posted by: Johnelle at February 14, 2012 1:19 AM

Fell out of bed fleeing down. This has brightened my day!

Posted by: Johnelle at February 14, 2012 1:20 AM