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Per aspera ad astra: “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.”

Finally, spaceships that look like spaceships. Starship test vehicle under assembly will look similar to this illustration when finished. Operational Starships would obv have windows, etc. — Elon Musk @elonmusk

Ah but everything old is new again. Isn’t it?

From The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

Having led his pursuers three-quarters of the way around the world in fifty minutes, Foyle permitted them to overtake him in London. He permitted them to knock him down, take the ILI safe from his arms, count the remaining slugs of PyrE, and slam the safe shut. “There’s enough left for a war. Plenty left for destruction… annihilation … if you dare.” He was laughing and sobbing in hysterical triumph. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for survival.”

“Damn you!” Dagenham raged. “Don’t you realize that you can’t trust people? They don’t know enough for their own good.”

“Then let them learn or die. We’re all in this together. Let’s live together or die together.”

“D’you want to die in their ignorance? You’ve got to figure out how we can get those slugs back without blowing everything wide open.”

“No. I believe in them. I was one of them before I turned tiger. They can all turn uncommon if they’re kicked awake like I was.”

Foyle shook himself and abruptly jaunted to the bronze head of Eros, fifty feet above the counter of Piccadilly Circus. He perched precariously and bawled:

Listen a me, all you! Listen, man! Gonna sermonize, me. Dig this, you!” He was answered with a roar. “You 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…”

He was jeered. He continued with the hysterical passion of the possessed.

“Take a war to make you spend. Take a jam to make you think. Take a challenge to make you great. Rest of the time you sit around lazy, you. Pigs, you! All right, God damn you! 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.” He disappeared.

He jaunted up the geodesic lines of space-time to an Elsewhere and an Elsewhen. He arrived in chaos. He hung in a precarious para-Now for a moment and then tumbled back into chaos. “It can be done,” he thought. “It must be done.”

He jaunted again, a burning spear flung from unknown into unknown, and again he tumbled back into a chaos of para-space and para-time. He was lost in Nowhere. “I believe,” he thought. “I have faith.”

He jaunted again and failed again. “Faith in what?” he asked himself, adrift in limbo.

“Faith in faith,” he answered himself. “It isn’t necessary to have something to believe in. It’s only necessary to believe that somewhere there’s something worthy of belief.”

He jaunted for the last time and the power of his willingness to believe transformed the para-Now of his random destination into a real –

NOW: Rigel in Orion, burning blue-white, five hundred and forty light years from earth, ten thousand times more luminous than the sun, a cauldron of energy circled by thirty-seven massive planets… Foyle hung, freezing and suffocating in space, face to face with the incredible destiny in which he believed, but which was still inconceivable. He hung in space for a blinding moment, as helpless, as amazed, and yet as inevitable as the first gilled creature to come out of the sea and hang gulping on a primeval beach in the dawn-history of life on earth. He space-jaunted, turning para-Now into.

NOW: Vega in Lyra, an AO star twenty-six light years from earth, burning bluer than Rigel, planetless, but encircled by swarms of blazing comets whose gaseous tails scintillated across the blue-black firmament. And again he turned now into

NOW: Canopus, yellow as the sun, gigantic, thunderous in the silent wastes of space at last invaded by a creature that once was gilled. The creature hung, gulping on the beach of the universe, nearer death than life, nearer the future than the past, ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end. It wondered at the masses of dust, meteors, and motes that girdled Canopus in a broad, flat ring like the rings of Saturn and of the breadth of Saturn’s orbit.

NOW: Aldeberan in Taurus, a monstrous red star of a pair of stars whose sixteen planets wove high velocity ellipses around their gyrating parents. He was hurling himself through space-time with growing assurance

NOW: Antares, an M1 red giant, paired like Aldeberan, two hundred and fifty light years from earth, encircled by two hundred and fifty planetoids of the size of Mercury, of the climate of Eden. And lastly.. –

NOW. He was drawn to the womb of his birth. He returned to the “Nomad,” now welded into the mass of the Sargasso asteroid, home of the lost Scientific People who scavenged the spaceways between Mars and Jupiter – -. home of Joseph who had tattooed Foyle’s tiger face and mated him to the girl, Moira. He was back aboard “Nomad.”

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place,
The stars my destination.

The girl, Moira, found him in his tool locker aboard “Nomad,” curled in a tight foetal ball, his face hollow, his eyes burning with divine revelation. Although the asteroid had long since been repaired and made airtight, Foyle still went through the motions of the perilous existence that had given birth to him years before. But now he slept and meditated, digesting and encompassing the magnificence he had learned.

He awoke from reverie to trance and drifted out of the locker, passing Moira with blind eyes, brushing past the awed girl who stepped aside and sank to her knees. He wandered through the empty passages and returned to the womb of the locker. He curled up again and was lost. She touched him once; he made no move. She spoke the name that had been emblazoned on his face. He made no answer. She turned and fled to the interior of the asteroid, to the holy of holies in which Joseph reigned.

“My husband has returned to us,” Moira said.

“Your husband?”

“The god-man who almost destroyed us.”

Joseph’s face darkened with anger. “Where is he? Show me!”

“You will not hurt him?”

“All debts must be paid. Show me.”

Joseph followed her to the locker aboard “Nomad” and gazed intently at Foyle. The anger in his face was replaced by wonder. He touched Foyle and spoke to him; there was still no response.

“You cannot punish him,” Moira said. “He is dying.”

“No,” Joseph answered quietly. “He is dreaming. I, a priest, know these dreams. Presently he will awaken and read to us, his people, his thoughts.”

“And then you will punish him.”

“He has found it already in himself,” Joseph said. He settled down outside the locker.

The girl, Moira, ran up the twisted corridors and returned a few moments later with a silver basin of warm water and a silver tray of food. She bathed Foyle gently and then set the tray before him as an offering. Then she settled down alongside Joseph.. – alongside the world -.. prepared to await the awakening.



Gerard Van der Leun // 1692 Mangrove Ave Apt: 379

Chico, CA 95926

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn February 14, 2019, 11:46 AM

    Looks like a pulp sci fi cover!

    Careful of the winds at the launch pad.

  • John Venlet February 14, 2019, 11:51 AM

    Everything old is new again. Musk’s spaceship is rather similar to this 7000 year old rock art discovered in a Cave in Japan, though Musk’s has three fins rather than two.

  • ghostsniper February 14, 2019, 12:26 PM

    no point on the top
    3 paltry nozzles
    all sho and no go
    that 5000 year old rocket picture is recent, and the author knows it

  • EndOfpatience February 14, 2019, 2:55 PM

    GREAT novel!

    Just unpacked it and plan on reading it again soon.

  • Eskyman February 14, 2019, 3:44 PM

    Excellent, excellent novel! It stuns with brilliance, and I still find surprises in it after many, many readings.

    I often refer to the “Scientific People” in this book; they live today as Glowball Warmening true believers. They all chant, like the People in this novel, the “truths” of their religion: “Deniers bad, Orange man bad, The Science is Settled, Quant Suff!” They have no idea what they are saying, it’s purely a religious ritual, but they are enraged if anyone scoffs. Many are tattooed as well, so as a prophet Bester is better than most!

    And Heinlein’s battle with Hollywood did result in a scientifically feasible flight to the Moon, though he had to struggle all the way; Hollywood didn’t see the necessity of showing a true depiction of zero-gee space flight, but Heinlein succeeded in making them do it. It’s still a good film today! (And beats the hell out of Avatar and similar dreck.)

    Heinlein’s space ships were almost always of the type that landed the same way they took off, on their tails, and most also had the three-tailfin design, so I for one am glad that Musk’s ships take off & land the way God and Robert A. Heinlein intended!

  • Rich February 14, 2019, 7:49 PM

    I have enjoyed many of your posts, and “Smoke” was a fine piece. But wow…Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination? Holy cow!

  • John the River February 14, 2019, 8:37 PM

    There hasn’t been a Scifi book like it or as good in this century.
    Or am I an old fart?

  • Vanderleun February 14, 2019, 9:05 PM

    It is easily the best science fiction novel ever written. I’m not the only one who thinks so. It just is.

  • John the River February 15, 2019, 7:03 AM

    Gerard, Have you heard of this?

    I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay
    “Numerous attempts had been made to adapt Isaac Asimov’s classic story-cycle, I, Robot, to the motion picture medium. All efforts failed. In 1977, producers approached multiple-award-winning author Harlan Ellison to take a crack at this impossible project. He accepted, and produced an astonishing screenplay that Asimov felt would be The first really adult, complex, worthwhile science fiction movie ever made. That screenplay is presented here in book format.”

    Available as a paperback on Amazon, the hardcover is about $500. Of course it was never made, instead in 2004 the Will Smith abortion. Which is why I hope, fervently, that TSMD is never made into a movie.

  • Harry February 15, 2019, 1:15 PM

    One of Bester’s other novels, The Demolished Man, ain’t so bad either.