The Stars My Destination (alt. title Tiger! Tiger! 1955) by Alfred Bester
Ok, it's been a long time since I read this novel, but it certainly made an impression. Oh yes.
I was having one of my "oh my god I haven't read [insert novel title] I am a terrible person must go read it now now now" moments several years ago when I read a claim that Stars was one of the best science fiction novels of all time. That's right- ALL TIME. (Sorry, don't remember where I read that).
Off to the main campus library I went, and a tattered copy of Bester's novel was soon in my hands. And what a novel. BIZARRE doesn't even come close to describing it. Bester took for his title a line from William Blake's poem "The Tyger." In short, Stars chronicles the 25th-century "adventures" of Gully Foyle (later Geoffrey Fourmyle), a man who dedicates his life to revenge after he is stranded in space on a merchant ship and other ships ignore his call for help (a war is raging at the time and everybody's jumpy and suspicious). "Jaunting" (or self-teleportation) is common in this world, and it is this that has upset the delicate balance between the "Inner Planets" and the "Outer Satellites" (thus, war). Foyle/Fourmyle methodically recreates himself to become an efficient killer in an effort to make the men on one particular ship that ignored him pay for his suffering. What happens along the way...well...I'll let you read it and see for yourself!
Stars borrows parts of its plot from Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte-Cristo, and is considered to be a forerunner of "space opera." So let's review: Blake (radical Romantic visionary and poet), teleportation, Dumas, space opera...how can you not read this?
In fact, I'm going to read it again...soon..my TBR pile is so tall...