Gully Foyle, spaceship crewman, is stranded on his broken ship for months, certain he is already dead. Another ship passes by but ignores his signals. Gully goes a bit crazy. He is rescued by a strange tribe of space habitat dwellers, and their antics drive him more crazy. Finally, he makes it back to Earth and civilization. He starts an obsessive quest for revenge against the crew and owners of the ship that did not rescue him. He makes a fortune through shady means and changes his name in order to infiltrate the rich strata of society in the service of his quest.
Human society is not as we know it, but profoundly changed by the discovery of the innate human ability to “jaunte”, or teleport, with the power of the mind. Physical layers of security such as walls have little meaning unless the entrances are defended with “jaunte-proof” labyrinths designed to be impossible to memorize.
This science fiction classic is in many ways an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. Foyle’s obsession is apparent throughout the book. He certainly is not a likeable character, but very interesting. He uses any means necessary to achieve his goal, despite the suffering that this causes in others.
Despite the fascinating aspects of a changed society and the quite engaging story, I found the second half of the book to be hopelessly dull. Mr. Bester changes the rules to fit the plot, with new strange characters that have just the right abilities that Foyle can use appearing just at the right time. The book also jumps from scene to scene in quite a jarring fashion, with less than the necessary introduction. The whole thing felt quite disjointed in fact. I really tried but finally gave up about four fifths of the way through.