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Literature: The Stars My Destination
Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
And death's my destination

The Stars My Destination, aka Tiger! Tiger! note  is a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester.

It is the twenty fifth century. An age when humanity can jaunte across the world, where telepaths are, if not common, then not unheard of. An age where humanity has spread across the solar system— a golden age that no one knows they are living in. An age when conflict between the Inner Planets and the Outer Satellites is about to end the age of the Global Wars by means of the outbreak of the first Solar War.

None of this matters to Gully Foyle—the quintessential everyman, if you are convinced Humans Are Morons. No education, no skills, no ambition, just a Mechanic's Mate Third Class on the freighter Nomad, which lies crippled in the void between the planets. And he does want to survive, and he has for six months when the spaceship Vorga sees the wreck of the Nomad, sees the distress signals—and passes by, leaving him to rot.

Now Gully Foyle has a pressing reason to do more than simply survive as he had done while surviving on the Nomad, as he had done all his life before hand. Now, he's headed back to Terra, and he will have his revenge, no matter who stands in his way...

The book's gritty Anti-Hero and experimental typography made it a much-imitated prototype for the New Wave Science Fiction movement that sprung up a few years later.
This book contains examples of:

  • The Alcatraz
  • Anti-Hero: Oh, is Foyle ever one.
  • Anti-Villain: Dagenham
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Presteigns are quite fond of saying that they love blood and money.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: One possible interpretation of the whole "Burning Man'' episode.
  • As You Wish
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Invoked, as this is how the super rich demonstrate their status. While anyone can jaunte, status is shown by taking mundane transportation, on the logic that you're rich enough to spend money on things you don't need and important enough to make people wait for you. One huge gala has a cavalcade of bigwigs arriving in increasingly old fashioned ways, starting with helicopters and cars, and ending with Gully's grand entrance on a train while his employees lay down the tracks in front of him.
  • Blessed with Suck: Robin is a "Telesend", meaning she can't read people's minds, but can broadcast her thoughts, which often has embarrassing results. The only positive side is that she is capable of controlling the ability enough that she can select who hears the thoughts, allowing a degree of telepathic communication which she finds useful in her job as a teacher.
  • Byronic Hero: Foyle
  • Cargo Cult: The Scientific People, who are a Cargo Cult IN SPACE!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Foyle inflicts this on the people connected to the Vorga, and it's especially grisly when he realizes that they are implanted with an Involuntary Suicide Mechanism... which Foyle gets around by cutting a man's heart out and keeping him on full life support (and in agony) while he interrogates him.
  • Corporate Samurai: Dagenham is basically a proto-example of this Cyber Punk type.
  • Cyber Punk: Although published in 1956, some three decades before Cyberpunk emerged, the book has many examples of the tropes common in cyberpunk—the antihero, the mysterious female thief, the intrigue of the multinational companies, the scientific McGuffin and cybernetically boosted reflexes most obvious amongst them. This is not entirely a coincidence: cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson has called The Stars My Destination his favourite novel.
  • Dark Messiah: Foyle is one of these at the end. He spreads the MacGuffin all over the world, which is Made of Explodium and can be really easily set off. He gives people the chance not to mess up, but if Humans Are Bastards, the world will go kaboom.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Jaunting has caused the upper class to once again view women as property which must be protected.
  • Determinator: Nothing will stop Gully Foyle from having his revenge. Nothing.
  • Die or Fly: How the first jaunter discovered his ability. Also how Gully Foyle escapes the wreck of the Nomad.
  • Evil Albino: Olivia Presteign.
  • Facial Markings: After an unplanned stopover at the home of the Scientific People, Gully Foyle gets extensive facial tattooing that is implied to be quite, quite hideous. It is worth noting that tattoos are virtually unknown in the future.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Oh, boy howdy.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: Russia is still the USSR. In at least one part of the book, Stalingrad gets mentioned.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The character Jisbella, or as she's more commonly called, "Jiz."
  • High Concept: Dozens, coming fast and furious at the reader. The future where everyone can teleport! The lost colony that worships science! The underground labyrinth prison! The radical sensory-deprivation cult! This is one reason the book has long been considered unfilmable.
  • Hulk Speak: Foyle (and it's implied lower class people in general) speak in a dialect that's a lot like this.
  • Illegal Religion: Religious observance has been outlawed, leading somewhat unsurprisingly to underground religions. People who take part in such things are normally viewed as something akin to sexual deviants:
    "Filthy pictures, signore? Cellar Christians, kneeling, praying, singing psalms, kissing cross? Very naughty. Very smutty, signore. Entertain your friends ... Excite the ladies."
  • I'll Kill You!: "You pass me by. You leave me rot like a dog. You leave me die, Vorga ... Vorga-T:1339. No. I get out of here, me. I follow you, Vorga. I find you, Vorga. I pay you back, me. I rot you. I kill you, Vorga. I kill you filthy."
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Mr. Presto. Not inexplicably, though, as the narration mentions they're all given extensive cosmetic surgery to look identical.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The novel's alternate title, Tiger! Tiger!, from the William Blake poem.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: As a means of interrogating Gully Foyle.
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the characters are named after British towns and cities.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: After Jisbella reveals to Foyle that she's in a relationship with Dagenham, he tries to ask how that could be possible, given that Dagenham is a Walking Wasteland. Soon afterward, the reader sees how things work. Dagenham and Jisbella can have sex during his "safe" periods, and after that, they go to separate beds that are separated by a 3-inch layer of lead-impregnated glass allowing them to see each other but preventing Jisbella from being exposed to Dagenham's radioactivity.
  • Marked Change: Gully Foyle's facial tattoos turn into this after he has it (painfully) removed, reemerging whenever he gets angry, or happy, or passionate, or emotional in any way, shape or form.
    • To elaborate: He has them removed by having the ink dissolved out of his skin; while this removes the ink, it leaves something of an imprint, which fills with blood, emulating the tattoo, whenever he gets flushed.
  • Master of Disguise: One of the secret police characters pursuing Foyle.
    • It helps that they have technology in the future that allows him to artificially add about 40 pounds to his weight.
  • McGuffin: PyrE is one of the reasons that everyone with a bit of interest in what happens to the Inner Planets is chasing Gully Foyle across every corner of their territory.
  • Meaningful Name: 'Gully' is short for Gulliver...and both characters follow similar development arcs right down to becoming reclusive misanthropes at the end of their respective stories.
  • Mega Corp.: One is involved quite directly in the plot.
  • Merchant Prince: Businessmen like Presteign of Presteign have so much power that they essentially are the government, and their family names are treated as titles.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Averted— Once he's rich, Foyle uses his money to have all these implants and circuitry put into his body that give him super-strength and amazing reflexes.
  • Painting the Medium: Foyle's spacetime jaunte, while he's suffering from synesthesia, is done with text illustrated in strange styles.
  • Phlebotinum: PyrE— a psychically activated nuclear explosive.
  • Rape Is Love: As close to love as anything in this book gets, anyway.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Foyle pretends to be an Upper-Class Twit in his Fourmyle identity
  • Secret Police: Central Intelligence is quite obviously this. They even have a secret language that is called...the Secret Speech.
  • Sense Freak: Inverted— and how!— with the Skoptsy.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Foyle is an astronaut but is described as a sailor— this is probably at least in part because of the Recycled IN SPACE! aspect.
  • Super Speed: Foyle eventually has his body upgraded with various functions, including being able to think and move five times faster than normal humans. Notably, it doesn't give him Super Toughness, so he has to avoid accidentally bumping into anything while super speed is engaged—especially in people who also possess this ability.
  • Tech Marches On: Double Subverted. Presteign of Presteign is so rich he can afford to have his own telephone switchboard, complete with operator. Jaunting (psychic teleportation) has made communications networks obsolete, and a private telephone switchboard is an unnecessary extravagance. Social status is reflected by just how much obsolete and unnecessary technology one surrounds oneself with, especially with travel and communications.
    • Modern Tattoo removal techniques are far more sophisticated and effective than what's presented in the book. The book implies that tattooing is something of a lost art on earth, which may explain why Foyle couldn't just get laser surgery.
      • A nasty side effect of the tattoo removal Foyle gets is that his face is full of capillary-rich scars - if he gets excited, he will give himself away. So the later half of the book has him on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge while getting mad will get him killed.
  • Teleporters and Transporters
  • Teleport Interdiction: Anti-teleport security measures include turning headquarters and homes into elaborate manipulable mazes. You literally can't teleport unless you know where you are and where the destination is. Attempting to teleport if you don't will just fail to work or lead to disappearance / death.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Inverted. Apparently naming conventions in the corporate aristocracy follow those of the Scottish clans.
    Office Flunky: Mr. Presteign.
    Presteign: There are millions of men called "Mr. Presteign". I am the Presteign of Presteign. You will adress me as Presteign.
  • This Loser Is You: As noted above, the book's idea of an "average man" is a pathetic piece of work. (You can hardly call Gully "average" after the Vorga incident.)
  • Time Stands Still
  • Took a Level in Badass: Goes from a living object to relentless killing machine to effectively transcendent through the course of the novel, all because some passersby decided not to give him a life-saving lift.
  • Unfortunate Names: The aforementioned woman thief is named Jisbella, but is more often just referred to as "Jiz".
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: There is an attempt to get information from the protagonist by simulating for him a reality where he is rich and happy, and his adventures are All Just a Dream. He spots A Glitch in the Matrix (his own reflection) right before talking.
  • Walking Wasteland: Dagenham. Mildly subverted in that he can avoid causing damage if he limits his interactions with the world outside his radiation-proof chamber.
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Possibly the most memorable passage in the book, delivered to humanity as a whole by a man who began the story as a mindless, uneducated drone.
    "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... 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."
    • Note that it's a inversion of this trope: while in its classical form a Whoopi Epiphany Speech is delivered by a poor uneducated character to his or her social betters, neither Gully, nor his auditory is either. Gully was a mindless drone barely eligible to be called sapient, but has since jerked himself out of this stupor, and he tells the very people he was some time ago that they too could Dare to Be Badass — a sort of inspirational "World of Cardboard" Speech.
  • Unconventional Formatting
  • Yellow Peril: In the future, all intelligence work will be handled by the Chinese, 'cause they're so good at it, don't you know.
    • Subverted in that they're not actually "yellow." The book states that jaunting has blurred racial lines to the point that a person's name is generally the only indicator of their nationality.

Starship TroopersLiterature of the 1950sSuspicion
Starship TroopersScience Fiction LiteratureStar Trek: Articles of the Federation

alternative title(s): Tiger Tiger
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