A stand-alone SF book.

Publication year: 1956
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1978
Format: print
Finnish translator: Tuulikki Lahti
Page count: 271
Finnish Publisher: WSOY

This is apparently one of Bester’s best books so I guess I was exposed to a lot of hype beforehand.
The book has a very interesting world. It’s set in the 25th century which is quite a different place from today. Humans have learned how to teleport, or jaunte. It turns out that humans have always had the ability, we just aren’t using it. In order to jaunte, people have to know the precise places where they start and end, so it’s possible to keep jaunte-capable people prisoners by keeping them in darkness. Some people can jaunt over a long distance and others shorter one. A few unfortunate people can’t teleport and they are only allowed to do the most menial jobs. Even though humanity has spread to other planets in our solar system, they can’t jaunt over space.

The main character of the book is Gulliver, Gully, Foyle. At the start, he’s described as lazy and incompetent. He was only able to get a job as a mechanic’s third grade assistant (although on a starship!). Because of the changes in economy and power balance which jaunting has created, the Inner Planets (Terra, Moon, Venus, and Mars) are at war with the Outer Satellites (the inhabited moons Io, Ganymedes, Europa, Callisto, Rhea, Titan, and Triton). One of the warships attack the merchant ship Foyle is on, called the Nomad, and leaves him as the only survivor. Foyle managed to survive for six months in an airtight closet. He has to raid the rest of the ship for food and oxygen bottles. Then, he notices a ship passing and is able to get its attention. However, the ship leaves, leaving Foyle on the wrecked Nomad. This so infuriates Foyle that he’s snapped out of this helplessness. He manages to read the manual and get the Nomad going while swearing that he will find the ship, called Vorga, and get his revenge for leaving him behind.

Through Foyle Bester explores the world he has created. He includes things which many later writers also use, like megacorporations which have just as much power as countries and one man’s crusade against the world world, or solar system in this case. Initially, I was disappointed with how women, or at least upper class white women, were treated: they were shut into windowless rooms to preserve the society’s “morals”. However, it turned out that Bester knew what he was doing even with that.

For such a short novel, it’s almost amazing who much we see of the society in it. While I didn’t much care for the character of Foyle, I really enjoyed the world and the quick plot.

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