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Stars My Destination (Preliminary Script Treatment)
by Alfred Bester
Synopsis by Claude Needham

Set in the future. Jaunting has become common place -- the ability to teleport from one known position to another memorized position. This has changed dramatically dwelling patterns, security patterns, and class structure. At present the upper limit for a jaunte is 1000 miles and jaunting through space is not possible.

Space travel is common place with full economic exploitation of the solar system.

At the moment the Outer Worlds and Inner Worlds are at war. The Outer Worlds seem to have the upper hand.

Gully Foyle is our main protagonist. There are several parallel plots with strong characters. And we have four female leads that play key roles in the development of the Gully Foyle character.

The book opens with Gully Foyle surviving by wits, stamina and shear stubborn aboard the crippled spaceship "Nomad". One hundred and seventy days spent living in a coffin sized tool room -- the only air tight space left on the damaged ship. His days are punctuated by forays into the main ship to collect food and air.

Gulliver Foyle, Mechanic's Mate 3rd Class, thirty years old, big boned, and tough -- too easy for trouble, too slow for fun, too empty for friendship, too lazy for love. A lethargic, dumb untrained ox of a man -- sluggish and indifferent. A man of physical strength and intellectual potential stunted by lack of ambition. Energiese at minimum. The stereotype Common Man. Some unexpected shock might possibly awaken him, but Psych Tech Division cannot find the key. Not recommended for promotion. Has reached a dead end.

Living in the only air tight room on the wreak of a ship Foyle spends his days waiting for rescue -- black, foul, encrusted with blood and god knows what else.

Then a ship comes. At first he dare not believe it is anything other than hallucination. He fires the rescue flares. The approaching ships slows in response to his flare then speeds along its course sunward -- leaving him to die.

This is the single galvanizing event of his life. Now he has a reason to life, a reason to learn, a reason to not be lazy, a reason to do and be anything -- he is going to extract his revenge on the captain and crew of the Vorga.

He fixes the ship in rather ingenious ways. Limps his way back toward the sun and a rendezvous with a destiny of revenge that is now etched into the fabric of space and time. He will not be denied his revenge. All of the potential intelligence that has lay dormant under a cap of brute stupidity is now moving in an inevitable course set for revenge.

The wreaked ship takes Gully Foyle planetward. He is picked up by the Scientific Race -- the descendants of a research team that had been lost and abandoned in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The only savages of the 24th century. Gully is given a wife (the first of many to come as genetic distribution is tres important in this isolated colony of savages). More importantly for the flow of the novel he is given a full facial tattoo. We never see the tattoo in full description. It is compared to a tigers stripes and to a Maori facial design. Most of what we know of the tattoo comes from the reaction of others. With only one exception (much later in the book) everyone reacts with complete and utter disgust, horror, revulsion and/or terror at his facial mask. Basically the facial mask is an exact representation of the brutish feral core of his being bent on revenge of the coarsest kind. His bestial drive for revenge is comparable to the raw energy of a supernova turned in upon itself.

Gully Foyle finds a serviceable space jumper (a weekender) patched into the fabric of the Scientific Race's floating tent city -- made from ships and mining junk collected over the decades from the asteroid belt. With next to zero regard for the life or safety of the savages that rescued him, Foyle blasts off ripping the weekender ship from the side of the station leaving a wreaked encampment behind him. He does tell Moira to warn everyone to run into safety just after he slugs her and throws her from the ship and just before he blasts off.

Moira is the first and last woman that will play a part in Foyle's adventure. She is intelligent, quick and compliant. She is basically played like the Tahitian native women in Mutiny on the Bounty. In fact put that whole village into space. Give them slang and ritual degenerated from scientific heritage and you have the Scientific Race in the nut shell.

  Next we find our protagonist living in a hospital undergoing jaunte rehabilitation under the tutelage of Robin Wednesbury. She is a good teacher and good hearted woman -- a tall, lovely black woman, brilliant and cultivated, but handicapped by the fact that she was a telesend, a one-way telepath. She could send but not receive. On good days with concentration she could selectively send to an individual. On bad days with low concentration or under stress she might send to everyone within telesend distance. In a world in which every telepath was documented and scheduled for employment at least 10 years into the future (a busy schedule indeed) she was totally ignored and not even registered. There was less then zero value for a telesend. Little regard for effective communication to another. High regard for extraction of secrets and intent from another. However useless to business negotiations and secret policy functions her talent may have been it was ideal for teaching. And teach she did -- a class in remedial jaunting for medically challenged patients.

Jaunting can be interrupted by a specific form of concussion, drugs that disrupt concentration and confusion. In the same way that a patient might need physical rehabilitation to walk after surgery or an accident -- just so a patient might need jaunte rehabilitation. Only in the case of jaunting it made the difference between being a real person and being a sub-human to be exploited in the grossest fashion. Non-jaunters had little life in this new culture. A culture in which it was considered the height of cool for an aristocrat to walk from a room rather than jaunte. And a non-jaunter was considered unemployable except for perhaps the bacteria mines.

Gully Foyle does not actually need jaunte rehabilitation. He is malingering as a place to be while he investigates where the ship Vorga and her crew may be.

When Robin discovers his malingering she threatens to expose him. He in turn threatens to have her turned over to the military police as a alien-belligerant because she was caught planet side with her sister and mother left on Callisto when the war started. He uses threats of death at the hands of the military interrogators to keep her quiet and rapes her in response to her sudden revulsion at his face and soul.


Next scene show sets the stage for the Presteign house hold. A massive economic power run by the family potentate Presteign of Presteign. They are looking for the wreaked space ship Nomad because it was carrying a cargo of 20 million credits of platinum and 20 pounds of PyrE. The PyrE is a psychokenetically induced thermonuclear explosive of the highest order. Twenty pounds might turn the earth into a droplet of molten slag and make the sun go nova. Very potent stuff. They wanted it back. The military so they could win the war with the Outer Planets. And Presteign so he could sell it the military to make a fortune.

From here we go to the christening of a new ship in the Presteign commercial fleet. Coincidentally Foyle is there attempting to blow up the Vorga also docked in the same space field. He doe not succeed. He is caught. He is questioned by the best interrogation money can buy. He does not crack.

The hatred and burning desire for revenge is so deep that under drugs and torture he reveals nothing but his desire to find Vorga. Since telepaths are booked solid and they don't want the telepaths to get wind of the PyrE's existence they decide to put Gully into Gouffre Martel -- the deepest darkest hole of a prison on the planet. They expect this to break him.

Gouffre Martel is dark and twisted to prevent jaunting. One must know where they are to jaunte. In the depths of Gouffre Martel one can't know where they are hence they can't jaunte. Those that get desperate and try to jaunte without knowing where they are do what is called a "blue jaunte". The result of a blue jaunte is an explosion as the jaunter materializes in the solid stone into which the caverns of Gouffre Martel are carved. No one has ever escaped.

It is here in the depths of Gouffre Martel that Foyle encounters the third strong female protagonist in the story Jizbella McQueen. She was hot-tempered, independent, intelligent and she was serving five years of cure in Gouffre Martel for larceny. She was a strong independent woman in a culture where women were relegated back to the worst forms of paternal, fraternal, and husband protection. Women were kept. But not Jiz. She was strong and she was in revolt against society.

Neither Gully nor Jiz were to meet anyone. The time in Gouffre Martel was to be total isolation a complete enforced solitary confinement. They found what was called a whisper lane. In the caverns the accidents of rock can make passages where a whisper can be carried for thousands of yards. They found such a lane and proceeded to become friends and plot an escape. Jiz began the process of educating Gully. Up until this point in the book his language was course gutter speak. Now he learns a bit of other language so that on the outside he can have a greater chance of not getting the two of them discovered. It gives them something to do while they plot escape. They talk of each others lives and plan an impossible escape. Gully is still totally fixated on revenge. But here another elements enters into his relationship. Something that is maybe not revolving around his central core of revenge. But this quietude of his lust for vengeance and allowance of some human relationship is like a friendship between a fox and hen. It will last only until the fox is hungry.

Foyle's plans for eventual escape are destroyed when he is interviewed by Dagenham an agent for Presteign. The military, the corporations, the war alliances all of these agencies are so caught in their own intrigues that they can't recognize the simplicity of Foyle's motives. "He wants revenge." They see him each as working for the other. They are Macavelian to the max. He is obsessive to the max. During the interview more information is deluged to Foyle then they expected. For one they tell him about 20 million credits on the ship and about something else more important. So important that they can't hire a telepath to extract it. He fights, he escapes, he finds Jiz, they both escape into the night. They make love, they become partners.


Next we find Gully and Jiz getting him a face job. Tattoos are extremely rare in the 24th century -- i.e. non existent. Jiz doesn't want his face replaced. So they opt for tattoo removal using oxidizing acids. The operation is extremely painful. At first Jiz withholds the extra 1000 credits necessary for the anathetic. Here we get a hint of the toll Gully's brutish face and nature are having on Jiz. She loves him. And yet she wants to punish him in the extreme. Very interesting operating theatre setting. The doctor is a collector of natural medical freaks so your imagination can run wild as to the variety of humanesque specimen that he houses in his "zoo."

Part way through the operation Jiz gives in and pays for the anathetic. Just as the operation is completed the government or corporate militia attack killing a compatriot of Jiz and forcing the two to flee. Gully steals the keys to a Saturn Weekend from the dead body of Jiz's old friend and they proceed to collect the 20 million credits in platinum from the wreaked Nomad.

At this point the Love/Hate nature of Jiz's feelings for Gully comes to a head. She continues to work with him "for the duration" of the collection of the platinum from the wreak. 20 million credits within the context of this story seems to have about the same buying power as 20 billion dollars would today. A rather large amount of money.

During the trip from Earth to the wreck of the Nomad Jiz makes Gully mad thrusts a mirror in his face and informs Gully of a characteristic that will underscore his actions throughout the rest of the book: "You said you wished you could carry me in your pocket to stick pins in you when you lose control. You've go your face....You can't ever lose control, Gully. You'll never be able to drink too much, eat too much, love too much, hate too much...You'll have to hold yourself in an iron grip." Gully had a stigmata burned so deep into his facial muscle that without removing his face down to the bone he was stuck with his "little reminding factor."

While Gully and Jiz are going about the business of grabbing the safe and trying to open it the corporate ships from Presteign arrive. Under the treat of attack they rip the safe from the wall of the Nomad and blast it toward the cargo bay of the Weekender like "catching a baseball in your cap." The safe jams in the hatchway making it impossible for Jiz to board the ship. Not willing to give up his chance at revenge for anything, Gully blasts off leaving Jiz to face the forces from Presteign. End of this segment.


A year has passed. The war has gained momentum and grew from a distant romantic affair to an ever present poisoning effect on every aspect of life. Spy scares, draft-jaunting and labor jaunting became critical problems. The hysterical became informers and lynchers. An ominous foreboding paralyzed every home. All of this was enlivened only by the advent of "The Four Mile Circus"

"The Four Mile Circus" was the nickname for the grotesque entourage of Geoffrey Fourmyle of Ceres. Geoffrey was the classic nouvewauu riche of all time -- brash, enormously wealthy, more so amusing, and had a talent for squandering outlandish sums of money on everything. He maintained an entourage of circus like proportions -- dancers, troubadours, cooks, maintenance teams, engineers, actors, musicians, artists, flakes, bakers and fakirs. In addition to all of the usual frivolity Geoffrey maintained a traveling library of the first order, a college, an on staff team of inventors and a whole research and development staff. All of this for the single minded purpose of carrying out his revenge. For Geoffrey Fourmyle was in fact Gully Foyle.

The brute Gully Foyle using the immense wealth salvaged from the wreak of the Nomad has established a traveling cloak of the outrageous -- his cover in the open. At this point in order to break into society Gully rescues, kidnaps, or convinces Robin Wednesbury that it will be to their mutual benefit for her to use her telesend capabilities to stuff into his brain the correct polite conversation for moving within society. For Gully has determined that to uncover a next lead in his quest for revenge he must move in societies best. He knows he can not learn quick enough to fake his way. So he plans to be the ventriloquist dummy to Robin.

At this point Gully has an inexhaustible supply of money. He is holding the secret to the location of the solar systems most explosive substance. He has been transformed by surgeons of the Mars Commando Brigade into the solar systems most formidable fighting machine. This operation normally reserved for the top of the top military special services rewires every nerve plexus, microscopic transistors and transformers are buried in muscle and bone. A minute platinum outlet connects his web of fighting equipment to a powerpack. He has control switches embedded in his teeth to help control his emotions, to control his time sense and his bodies response time and strength. He is able to speed up time to the degree that he can waltz around foes as if they are statues. In addition Gully has one huge Achilles heel. If he becomes excited in any way -- anger, sexual tension, fear, anything -- his blood will cause the scars of his removed facial tattoo to be come visible. Thus giving away who he is and stopping his quest for revenge.

In any case his best scientists have calculated that statistically he has three months before his charade is discovered and he is found out. So he must work quickly.

Robin works with Gully partially as a prisoner, partially as a coconspirator (she is trying to find her sister and mother), partially as a social tutor, and unbeknownst to Gully as an unwitting admirer. There is something within Gully, not charm, not grace, not respect, not anything that we can put our finger on that wins women over to him despite themselves. These are not women looking for rough-trade or a walk on the wildside. It is not their will to self-destruction. There is something else that brings them to love him. Unfortunately he is such an absolute brute in his unwavering quest for vengeance that all are thrown aside -- without his even noticing that they cared. At this point everything that Gully does is calculated toward a single purpose and as far as we can tell he will walk over anyone to get his desired revenge. It is only the reflection in the women around him that give any hint that he might have a redeeming quality. And, each of them despise him in addition to anything softer they may feel. Ultimately each will betray him and contribute to his resurrection.

It is in this section of the book that Gully uses his wits, money and special body augmentation to travel from one adventure to the next, from one planet to the next, from one lead to the next.

Because of a a profound post-hypnotic implant and of his leads that start to talk to him die by heart stoppage. So in a scene giving a full peek inside the heart of Gully he performs open heart surgery on one crew member of the Vorga removing his heart and hooking him up to a heart-lung machine. The man comes to looks down sees his chest gaping open with his heart sitting on the side table. Gully then proceeds to question him about who was responsible for ordering his being left to rot in space. Gully finds out the last lead is the captain now a member of the Skoptsy Colony. The Skoptsy have had all sensory input cut. They live totally within their own heads with no input from the outside world. Gully steals a telepath to get at this last clue.

Meanwhile Gully has fallen in love with Olivia Presteign the other-sighted daughter of his arch-nemisis. Olivia can see in the infrared and microwave but not the visible spectrum. This means she is not able to jaunte. Being jaunte challenged in this world of the future is the absolute worst disability. It is when Gully asks Robin to help him win Olivia's heart that we see through the deep wound this causes that she (who has been raped and mistreated most by Gully in his revenge quest had come to love him too.)

Also meanwhile, Gully is being visited at key, pivotal points of the plot by a burning man. A man who flickers into existence and out like a candle flame blazing upon each moment of significant history for Gully. We don't find out until the end who this burning man is.

Using the telepath (a pathetic little creature -- a 70 year old baby) to get at the Skoptsy captain of the Vorga Gully finds out that the villain of villains that left him to rot in space was the love of his love the light spark of soft decency dawning in his plot. None other than Olivia the daughter of Presteign. The Presteign family are cursed his a thirst for blood and pirateering. Olivia in a secret venture to quench this thirst from the vile side of her nature had been running refugees from the outer planets to Earth. Accept she would take their money, take their wealth, then throw them naked into space. This is precisely what they were doing with Robin's sister and mother when they came across the Vorga.

Here Gully is hit by two strong shocks. One his pretty-pretty is the monster he is looking for. Two, even if he had been picked up he would have been killed -- scuttled in space to explode blue and naked. So in the end it was the raw luck of the draw. The nature of having the bad fortune to be on the wrong ship at the wrong time and be passed by the wrong ship engaged in the wrong activity. In one blinding moment of revelation he has the new found light at the end of his tunnel ripped away and he has his convenient crutch of someone else to blame ripped away.

This is now a character ready for destruction in a pool of self-pity or a character ready for a major transformation.

It is in this state that Gully goes to an attorney to negotiate the terms of his surrender to the authorities. He wants to give himself up. He wants to be purged. He wants to be punished for what he has done and made clean again.

It is in this state that the attorney is transformed into a fighting machine to kidnap Gully for the Outer Planets. They have been tracking him for years, waiting for a chance to grab him. Grab him for two reasons. They want the PyrE explosive and they want to cut the secret of space-jaunting from him.

It turns out that when the Nomad was wreaked it was wreaked by raiders from the Outer Planets. They grabbed Gully the lone survivor and put him adrift in space in his space suit with transponder signaling for help. He was a space-suited worm left dangling as bait for any would-be rescue ship. The idea being to jump and destroy any rescuing ship. Gully was poisoned bait. He spelled doom to anyone that stopped to help. He was a shill, a lure, death-bait.

In order to make their little trap work the bad guys had to take Gully 600,000 miles closer to the sun -- into the standard shipping lanes. Otherwise no one was going to see him and attempt their ill-fated rescue. Well, Gully surprised the Solar System by jaunting back to the Nomad -- the first human to jaunte through the voidness of space. This the Outer Planets wanted to know. With this secret they could control the Solar System.

So not only was Gully's rescue ill-fated by luck. If he had been rescued it would have been the ruin of anyone making the attempt. At this point all his possible anger at others for not stopping to help drained away. He was also knocked out, drugged and dragged to St. Peter's Old Cathedral -- the most recent home of the Four Mile Circus. This is where the attorney/secret agent expected to find the PyrE before leaving with his captured prize to the Outer Planets.

In the meanwhile Presteign et al have decided to explode the bits and pieces of PryE left around by Gully during his research teams efforts to uncover its secrets. This as an attempt to bring the other 18 pounds to surface. This explosion of dust particles is sufficient to devastate St. Peters and you guessed it light Gully up like a candle flame.

It was Gully Foyle jaunting throughout time that was the cause of the previous burning man sightings. In the explosion Gully's senses are all mixed up. It takes instruction from Robin during a future appearance of the burning man to tell him how to climb from the wreckage of St. Peters to safety. This he does.

When his senses uncross in the Star Chamber of Castle Presteign Gully is left with the not-so-small task of sorting out what he will do with the PyrE that only he knows where to find. The war effort wants it. Presteign wants it -- maybe for Earth, maybe for the Outer Planets. It is a malfunctioning robot that helps him to sort out his intentions. Gully decides to give the secret of PyrE to the world. He distributes enough bars of the substance around the planet on a jaunting run that either the military will divulge to the public what they have so they will turn it in or risk accidental explosion of the whole planet. This forces the arrogant aristocracy to bring the people in on the secret that threatens their very existence. A rather democratic move reminiscent of the optimistic egalitarian fifties during which this book was written.

Gully does his best to break himself from his past and then jauntes to the Scientific Colony to Moira and the Scientific Peoples. Here he enters into a cocoon like womb of delirium -- a vision quest from which he may exit a transformed man.

Copyright 1998 -- Author & Galaxy eZine All rights reserved
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