“The Stars My Destination” was the first book I read by Alfred Bester. As it was written in 1950s I expected to read a “space opera” type story, but it turned out that the title was a bit misleading since the book is definitely not a “space opera”.
It a story of a man, named Gully Foyle, who at the start of the book is a castaway in space, drifting and barely surviving in a wreck of a spaceship that was damaged in battle. He is passed by, and not rescue by a ship that comes close enough for him to see the name. He swears to exact revenge on that ship, if and when he gets out of his predicament.
Now the universe that Gully Foyle lives in is one where people can “jaunt” – that is jump from place to place by just thinking of their destination. Now this ability is somewhat limited – only very talented “jaunters” can traverse thousands of miles – and not one can jaunt in space. The ability to “jaunt” has significant influence on the culture of the world – for example, women must be kept safe inside houses protected by labyrinths – since you cannot jaunt to a place whose location you do not know precisely.
Also there is a war going on between the inner and the outer planets in the Solar system, which at inconvenient times intrudes on Folly’s plans.
When, after rescuing himself, Gully, tries to exact his revernge he is captured and thrown in jail. In a “The Count of Monte Christo” plot twist Gully escapes his prison and though various means (not really described in the story) becomes rich and powerful. Still his desire for revenge keeps burning in him and he continues to pursue the ones who deserted him in space.
Although written back in the 1950s, the book has some overtones of “cyberpunk” – a science-fiction sub-genre that was popular in the 90s. For example, Gully has his body modified so that he can move as super-accelerated speeds. He uses this ability when he needs to fight some of his enemies.
Eventually he discovers that he is unable to get ultimate revenge – but to find out why you will need to read the book!