The Stars My Destination Summary & Study Guide

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The Stars My Destination Summary & Study Guide Description

The Stars My Destination Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Related Titles and a Free Quiz on The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

The Stars My Destination is a tale about the power of imagination that focuses on the exploits of a very unlikely protagonist. He starts off as a goal-less refugee, endures as a hunted, marked man seeking his destiny in vengeance and closes the tale as an evolutionary marvel, a messianic character ready to lead humans to the next stage of their existence.

Gully Foyle is not a hero. Gully Foyle is not an anti-hero. Gully Foyle is an uneducated, skill-less, merchant marine who survives 170 days in the airless vacuum of space aboard the wrecked Nomad. He is not a likeable man or character, but the brutality of his bare survival is an engaging opening into an entirely new world.

Bester's world of the future is one where people can "jaunte" thousands of miles with just a thought. Mechanized transport becomes a thing of the past as people can travel 5, 10, 20 or 200 miles with just a thought—but there is a catch. The person must know the location of where they are going and no one can jaunte across the vastness of space. Gully Foyle's ship is wrecked in an attack he can barely remember. He wakes up in the only locker aboard the ship that still has some air.

He uses his own knowledge of the ship to travel out in a space suit with just five minutes of air to retrieve new air tanks every few days. It is a gamble, because he never knows if he can make it there and back in his 5 minutes without suffocating and he never knows if the air tank he retrieves is one that will provide him with the necessary oxygen.

In many ways, The Stars My Destination is a science fiction version of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Gully Foyle has no great ambition and he has no imagination. According to some details, Bester based his story in part on a newspaper clipping from World War II. The story detailed a sailor who drifted for 133 days on a raft in the middle of the Pacific. He went un-rescued because other ships feared he was a lure for submarine attack.

Gully Foyle also goes un-rescued and when a ship—the Vorga—passes close enough by to see his signal flares and continues on, abandoning him; revenge takes root and blossoms to life with a fury. Suddenly Foyle has a purpose and a reason to live. He finds a way to make his ship work and launches it across the vastness of space to 'chase' the ship that abandoned him.

The Nomad crashes into an asteroid comprised of the wreckage of crashed ships. The offspring of those wrecks' crews live on the asteroid. They call themselves the 'Scientific People' and they tattoo masks on their faces of names. They do the same to Foyle, dubbing him with the name of his ship and calling him Nomad with the "o" reminiscent of the symbol for males. The tattoo is fierce and awful and gives Foyle a horrendous visage.

He escapes from the tribe and the wife they try to foist on him by stealing one of the somewhat operable space yachts.

Back on Earth, Gully disguises himself and begins his plans to attack the Vorga. It is all he lives for. He wants to destroy the ship that abandoned him in space. He hides in plain sight among students learning to jaunt by touring locations. His plan is foiled by the instructor who has telesend (think telepathy, but only one way). He forces her to help him and there is an implication of rape at the end of their encounter.

Foyle's attack against the Vorga goes horribly awry and he ends up in custody. He is questioned extensively about the whereabouts and fate of the Nomad, but his single-minded obsession with revenge drives him to keep the details to himself. In an effort to extort the information from him, he is condemned to a prison located underground. The location puts them in the pitch black so they cannot see where they are and they cannot jaunte out.

The acoustics within the prison allow Foyle to communicate with a female prisoner. She becomes a lifeline for him and despite his crudeness and rough nature, he also becomes her lifeline. When the authorities continue to press Foyle for information, he learns why they are so desperate to locate the Nomad. It contains a vast treasure trove. Foyle sees the treasure as another opportunity to fulfill his destiny in destroying the Vorga

He breaks out of the prison and takes the female prisoner with him. They escape and he undergoes a desperate procedure to remove the tattoo from his face because it makes him so noticeable. There is a bitter love-hate relationship that exists between his female companion and himself. Together they set off in search for the Nomad but are separated when he has to abandon her or face capture.

He returns to Earth under the guise of Geoffrey Fourmyle of Ceres and poses as a dandy who dazzles society with his crazy circus of an entourage and ridiculous antics. He blackmails the telesending instructor to assist him in his endeavors and he finally meets Presteign, the man who owned the Vorga and the Nomad. He falls in love with the Presteign's daughter, Olivia.

Despite his love, his obsession with destroying the Vorga and the person responsible for abandoning him drives him onward. He discovers the Captain of the Vorga resides on Mars, a victim of total sensory disrepair. Foyle sees his revenge close at hand and he travels to Mars and kidnaps a 70 year old child-telepath to torture the information he wants from the Captain.

The true tragedy of the interrogation leads Foyle to discover that it was Olivia who ordered the Vorga to ignore the Nomad's distress. Choking on remorse, pity, rage and helplessness, Foyle begins to regret all of the bad decisions he has made. He tries to work with a lawyer who turns out to be a double agent. He discovers that the authorities on all sides are interested in a secret cargo that was aboard the Nomad. The isotope PyrE is extremely volatile and could turn the tide of any war. However, the lawyer was more interested in Foyle himself, because when the Nomad was attacked; they observed Foyle jaunting across space. Since jaunting in space is believed to be impossible—the real treasure of the Nomad turns out to be this unremarkable man with his remarkable gift.

The discovery of his ability sends Foyle spiraling off on another journey through space and time. It is a journey of self-discovery that reveals why a Burning Man appears at several key points in the text (the Burning Man is Foyle himself). Foyle can jaunte forward and backwards in time as well as across the vastness of space. The revelation leads him to a sense of inner peace and he returns to his own time where he promises the world he will teach them all to jaunte as he has, but they have to find him first. They will have to discover their own full potential as he did. They will have to become the tiger or die in the attempt.

At the close of the novel, Foyle jauntes back to the Scientific People where he waits for the human race to awaken to what he has already discovered and they embrace him and wait for his revelations to be given.

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