I first read this book decades ago under the title of Tiger! Tiger!
(British edition). I just reread it recently for the purposes of writing this review. Fortunately I have memory like a sieve so I enjoy this reread just as much as the first time.
The Stars My Destination is one of the few sf books that is included in almost every all-time best sf books I have ever seen, and I have seen many. If I see such a list without this book I will probably dismiss it.
The story is centered upon Gully (Gulliver) Foyle a vengeful anti-hero protagonist who thinks nothing of whacking all and sundry with a sledgehammer. It is set in a universe where practically everybody can teleport, the part where teleportation ("jaunting") is discovered by accident and developed into a normal mode of transportation is brief yet brilliant, and the social and cultural ramifications are very well thought out. Foyle is not exactly likable but you have to feel sorry for the ordeals he goes through in this book. Abandoned, marooned, kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned, no wonder he is so bitter and vengeful all the time; at no point does anybody offer him a nice cup of tea or a manicure. Foyle stoically goes through all this ill treatment with a snarl and a promise of payback. Bester's witty and intelligent prose contrast nicely with the gutter language spoken by Foyle in the first half of the book. The author has cited The Count of Monte Cristo as an influence for this book but the similarity is not noticeable until Foyle reinvented himself with an extreme makeover in the second half of the book, the breakneck pace of the book also slows down for the elaborate revenge plan at this point.
As this is one of the most beloved sf books ever recommendation is not usually necessary for regular sf readers, readers new to the genre will find this an ideal starting point.
The last couple of chapters are wonderfully trippy, surreal, philosophical and cosmic! I suspect these last chapters play a large part in pushing the book to its classic status.
I love this book, me!