This book is a science fiction novel that was written well over seventy years ago In this one, mutants have developed telepathic powers and these mutants, also known as Slans, are being hunted by humans Our main character is a Slan as we follow him through loss and him trying to survive.
Right away I was blown away by this book This was X Men but written twenty five years earlier As with X Men, the persecution of mutants is an allegory for racial tensions I loved the fact of when this was written and I love when science fiction reflects the real world As with most books that were written during this time period, it has a breakneck pace with a limited amount of pages This was a detriment to this novel as I wish everything was fleshed out a little including the characters This was especially the case with the ending as I felt like it didn t hit the mark Other reviews have stated that this is dated because of the science and it is but I took it with a grain of salt and it did not affect my enjoyment of this book.
This is one of the earlier science fiction novels that was written and it shows That being said, it has a very strong message and I believe it to be an important science fiction book I am really glad that I read it and I will look into this author s other works.
281218 later addition just read interesting lit crit work on intersections of surrealist and sf work theory mostly in france in early 20th to midcentury, of which van vogt was greatly admired he translates well arguments are from the lit crit art crit world not mine his plots are confused on purpose, plots against baudelairian 19th century realism, plots skeptical of freudian modern mythology, plots linked to the french new novel as well etc not enough on r g and friends for me, but intellectually different way of looking at this work161118 first review i am greatly surprised by how enjoyable this is as sf it might be nothing much but as adventure it reads kind of like script for cable miniseries i have read somewhere that van vogt had this quite deliberate writing idea that something new idea, character, situation must happen every chapter ending on the cliff, works for pulp, works here this is not four star good as much as very good history both of form, expected readers, techno thrillers also explains why his plots veer widely plot accelerates theme kind of dissolves anything but constant i had only read two books by van vogt with decreasing interest and many years ago decades as a kid i read a hall of fame short story weapon shops of do not read this for ideas know what you are reading this is 1940, the peak of pulp, beginning of the golden age exactly the sort of sf say lem hated, no science, no philosophy, not much poetry nothing but adventure fast, short, easy read In The S, The Golden Age Of Science Fiction Flowered In The Magazine Astounding Editor John W Campbell, Jr Discovered And Promoted Great New Writers Such As AE Van Vogt, Whose Novel Slan Was One Of The Works Of The Era Slan Is The Story Of Jommy Cross, The Orphan Mutant Outcast From A Future Society Prejudiced Against Mutants, Or Slans Throughout The Forties And Into The Fifties, Slan Was Considered The Single Most Important SF Novel, The One Great Book That Everyone Had To read Today It Remains A Monument To Pulp SF Adventure, Filled With Constant Action And A Cornucopia Of IdeasThis Edition Has A New Introduction By Kevin J Anderson I really liked van Vogt when I was younger it s only been a few years since I read The Voyage of the Space Beagle which I gave 3 stars I ve heard this held up to be one of his better books, but never got around to it He writes space opera, which has some almost magical fixing plenty of convenience to the plot, but it s fun This wasn t The biggest problem was that he tried to cover too much territory in too short a time From evolution to revolution, racism, mob psychology, fantastic science even a love story all wrapped up in a coming of age story It started out pretty well, but there was just so much going on by the end that none of it worked well The great reveals weren t some just sucked Everything else was too convenient magically solved to make the hero out to be wonderful, while much of his reasoning was ridiculous.
This was an audio book in 6 files By the end of the third one, I was getting close to my limits Halfway through the 5th, I almost quit Luckily, the 6th was shorter, so I managed to finish it A few minutes I would have yakked, though.
In Slan, Van Vogt say vote combines a number of popular sci fi themes, some intriguing, others silly, to create a work that is interesting and influential, if sometimes ill conceived.
The political tone of the work, focused on dictators, secret police, and shadowy struggles for power mark this as one of the earlier Dystopian works Slan is a decade before 1984, though Brave New World and It Can t Happen Here are earlier.
Van Vogt s Dystopia is much fantastical than most of the genre, relying heavily on telepathy and Tom Swift gadgeteering The use of super gadgets is so pervasive that there are few situations our protagonist can t get out of with the use of lovingly described technology.
There are some twists of the plot that are beyond the powers of his machines, but happily, all of these are solved by coincidence The author has no trouble placing his protagonist in sticky situations, but can t get him out again without contrivance or Clarke Magic Despite being told of our hero s brilliance and will, he remains passive, drifting where the plot carries him.
The writing itself is alright, but not impressive Occasionally, Van Vogt tries for a flowery passage, and these do not serve him well Likewise, his technobabble serves only to justify things that we, as sci fi readers, have already taken for granted We understand that his use of Atomic Power allows him to make impenetrable steel, we don t need a speech about super bonding.
Van Vogt is lost somewhere between the overt fantasies of pulp sci fi and the reasonable predictions of harder science, like Heinlein s When an author tries to justify a fantasy, all it does is cause the reader to question his own disbelief.
This especially evident in Van Vogt s explanation for telepathy, where he drags out that old gernsbackian chestnut about the evolution of the Future Man Van Vogt demonstrates ably that the chief difference between hard and soft sci fi is whether the author has the least grasp of the science he s attempting to predict.
The use of evolution as magic plot fixer is always laughable, and it s no wonder the layman has no conception of what the Theory of Evolution actually refers to it has nothing to do with Nietzsche s Superman , and neither does eugenics His use of telepathy also highlights another of Van Vogt s authorial weaknesses We often get long description of how characters feel, of how they are reacting, and of what they are thinking, which is usually a sign that the author feels a need to tell us what he is incapable of demonstrating with plot, character, scene, and dialogue.
At first, I thought that it made sense to live in the heads of telepathic characters, and was looking forward to seeing how Van Vogt would use telepathy to give us different insights into the characters and their interactions Unfortunately, he rarely uses it this way Indeed, most of the people have mind shields which prevent the protagonists from having any such insights.
What I appreciate about sci fi is the greater scope and variability the author has to explore humanity and possibility When a sci fi author fails to find all the interesting nooks that his alien world suggests, it is all the disappointing.
I can also appreciate sci fi as a pure, tightly plotted adventure, taking science as magic Unfortunately, Van Vogt is stuck between these extremes, neither as psychologically interesting as Huxley nor as imaginative and unpredictable as Burroughs He does a fair enough job holding up both ends at once, but combines not only the strengths but also the weaknesses of both styles He hits a lot of promising points here, and there is something unique about how he hybridizes ideas, but he never takes advantage the possibilities lying everywhere beneath the surface.
5 to 2.
0 stars While certainly an important classic science fiction story and worth while for gaining an understanding of the evolution of the science ficiton novel featuring the superhuman I did not really enjoy the novel I am glad I read it and it was in the neighborhood of okay, but can not recommend it.
The golden age of science fiction produced many works that have stood the test of time Fahrenheit 451, I Robot, the Foundation trilogy, Ring Around The Sun, the Lensman series, the Skylark series and many others continue to shape science fiction today and thrill modern readers Unfortunately, some works that were groundbreaking at the time haven t aged as well, Slan being one of them While the concepts are interesting racism, eugenics, evolution, political espionage , the execution fails the novel completely The plot is simplistic enough, however without developed characters and by jumping time periods too much, the forward momentum is lost With very little action and too many plot holes, Slan becomes a tedious mess, the reader wishing it to end instead of looking forward to the next revelation The dialogue is amateurish at best, new tech introduced conveniently when a significant plot hole occurs, and the missions make no sense in their execution A big question is still unanswered how can fleet of ships be built and take off for the moon and Mars without the government and military noticing At one time a landmark in the genre, Slan, over the course of time, becomes just another throwaway pulp, its concepts coherently explored in many better novels.
I ve read lots of classic SF, but now, at last, I ve found the missing link between Isaac Asimov and E.
E Smith, the transition stage between thoughtful, character driven science fiction and the Atomic Age of Super Science Van Vogt s prose is just far enough on the clunky side of pulp to make it jarring to modern ears, but the main thing that might hold a modern reader back from this book is that so many of the ideas Vogt introduces have since passed into the realm of cliche If you put the book in its historical context, it becomes clear how much of a debt Van Vogt is owed.
Super powered mutants fighting to protect a world that hates and fears them Check An oppressive totalitarian government that uses fear to control the populace Check A eugenics program aimed at creating the perfect super being, destined to one day avenge his parents and come into his ultimate power I could go on, and that s without even getting to the underground cities, hypnosis crystals, disintegration rays, conspiracies within conspiracies, and the secret colony on Mars.
What I enjoyed most in Slan is that, while there is a clear cut protagonist, the sides of right and wrong are murky and indistinguishable right up to the very end a far cry from the pulp adventures of the Lensmen or John Carter My one complaint is that the hero, Jommy Cross, lacks anything like an equal or counterweight to play against Still, it s a quick, enjoyable, Slam Bang and yet surprisingly thoughtful read.
Golden Age Science Fiction goodness I can see from other reviews that not everybody enjoyed this, but I really enjoy Van Vogt, his stories tend to twist and turn and venture off into unexpected territory The logical next step is almost never what happens Slan has had a massive influence on the genre, as seen in Marvel Comics X men and the writings of Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Slan actually deals with a rather complicated theme, but in an almost simplistic fashion, the quick pace of the novel is testament to this Latter authors, like Dick, instilled a much greater emotional impact into the same kind of thing This, however, is fun Anachronisms Of course I d expect no less of a Science Fiction novel published in the 1940s There is a feverish quality to much of the Van Vogt stuff I ve read, and perhaps that s why he s not everybody s cup of tea Me, I d recommend this any day of the week Some of it appears silly now, but Slan has certainly made its mark
Slan is poorly written but I enjoyed the reading well, my reviews are also poorly written As a lot of classics this novel could seem a bit silly to the current reader the female characters, some aspects of the plot, and of course the state of the art of science knowledgeHowever Slan has good ideas, for example when the author imagines a society in which some humans have superpowers telepathy, intelligence, strength, etc but at the same time they must hide and protect themselves from different superhumans, so I understand that this novel was acclaimed in its time.
I suppose that then in 1940 A E van Vogt s novel made a lot of fans the proto geeks if I may say so daydream to be the main character socially maladjusted but in a sense superior, etc.