The original Slan novel by Van Vogt was at the beginning of his career, and felt a tiny bit incomplete, since it left most of the plot threads unresolved at the end of the short novel. Unfortunately, because Van Vogt waited 50 years to begin work on the sequel, and left the book still unfinished at the time of his death, Kevin J. Anderson had a difficult task. He had to finish a book that involved the main characters having been written into a bunch of corners.
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Until age four, van Vogt and his family spoke only Plautdietsch at home. Alfred Vogt found these moves difficult, later remarking: Childhood was a terrible period for me. I was like a ship without anchor being swept along through darkness in a storm.
Again and again I sought shelter, only to be forced out of it by something new. During his teen years, Alfred worked as a farmhand and a truck driver, and by the age of 19, he was working in Ottawa for the Canadian census bureau. He began his writing career with stories in the true confession style of pulp magazines such as True Story. Most of these stories were published anonymously, with the first-person narratives allegedly being written by people often women in extraordinary, emotional, and life-changing circumstances.
After a year in Ottawa, he moved back to Winnipeg, where he sold newspaper advertising space and continued to write. While continuing to pen melodramatic "true confessions" stories through , he also began writing short radio dramas for local radio station CKY, as well as conducting interviews published in trade magazines. Career[ edit ] By , van Vogt decided to switch to writing science fiction, a genre he enjoyed reading.
John W. Campbell, who edited Astounding and had written the story under a pseudonym , sent van Vogt a rejection letter, but one which encouraged van Vogt to try again.
Van Vogt sent another story, entitled " Black Destroyer ", which was accepted. A revised version of "Vault of the Beast" would be published in It featured a fierce, carnivorous alien , the coeurl , stalking the crew of an exploration spaceship, and served as the inspiration for multiple science fiction movies, including Alien Ineligible for military service due to his poor eyesight, he accepted a clerking job with the Canadian Department of National Defence.
This necessitated a move back to Ottawa , where he and his wife would stay for the next year and a half. Meanwhile, his writing career continued. Freed from the necessity of living in Ottawa, he and his wife lived for a time in the Gatineau region of Quebec before moving to Toronto in the fall of California and post-war writing — [ edit ] In November , van Vogt and Hull moved to Hollywood ; van Vogt would spend the rest of his life in California.
He had been using the name "A. To his friends in the California science fiction community, he was known as "Van". Method and themes[ edit ] Van Vogt systematized his writing method, using scenes of words or so where a new complication was added or something resolved.
Several of his stories hinge on temporal conundra , a favorite theme. Around this time, he became particularly interested in the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski. The novel recounts the adventures of an individual living in an apparent Utopia , where those with superior brainpower make up the ruling class At the same time, in his fiction, van Vogt was consistently sympathetic to absolute monarchy as a form of government.
It was reprinted in over 20 collections or anthologies, and appeared many times in translation. Van Vogt had first met Hubbard in , and became interested in his Dianetics theories, which were published shortly thereafter.
Very shortly after that, van Vogt and his wife opened their own Dianetics center, partly financed by his writings, until he "signed off" around Fix-ups[ edit ] However, during the s, van Vogt retrospectively patched together many of his previously published stories into novels, sometimes creating new interstitial material to help bridge gaps in the narrative.
Van Vogt referred to the resulting books as " fix-ups ", a term that entered the vocabulary of science-fiction criticism. When the original stories were closely related this was often successful — although some van Vogt fix-ups featured disparate stories thrown together that bore little relation to each other, generally making for a less coherent plot. One of his best-known and well-regarded novels, The Voyage of the Space Beagle was a fix-up of four short stories including "Discord in Scarlet"; it was published in at least five European languages by All were based on story material written and originally published between and As well, one non-fiction work, The Hypnotism Handbook, appeared in , though it had apparently been written much earlier.
In , he published the fix-up The Weapon Shops of Isher. After more than a decade of running their Dianetics center, Hull and van Vogt closed it in Nevertheless, van Vogt maintained his association with the overall organization and was still president of the Californian Association of Dianetic Auditors into the s. He did not return immediately to science fiction, however, but instead wrote the only mainstream, non-sf novel of his career. Van Vogt was profoundly affected by revelations of totalitarian police states that emerged after World War II.
Accordingly, he wrote a mainstream novel that he set in Communist China , The Violent Man ; he said that to research this book he had read books about China. Into this book he incorporated his view of "the violent male type", which he described as a "man who had to be right", a man who "instantly attracts women" and who he said were the men who "run the world".
From through the mids, van Vogt once again published new material on a regular basis, though fix-ups and reworked material also appeared relatively often. He also wrote novels by expanding previously published short stories; works of this type include The Darkness on Diamondia and Future Glitter also known as Tyranopolis; Over the years, many sequels to his classic works were promised, but only one appeared: Null-A Three ; originally published in French.
Several later books were originally published in Europe, and at least one novel only ever appeared in foreign language editions and was never published in its original English. Death[ edit ] On January 26, , A. He was survived by his second wife, the former Lydia Bereginsky. Van Vogt married Lydia Bereginsky in ; they remained together until his death. An early and articulate critic was Damon Knight.
Knight described The World of Null-A as "one of the worst allegedly adult science fiction stories ever published". His plots do not bear examination. His choice of words and his sentence-structure are fumbling and insensitive. He is unable either to visualize a scene or to make a character seem real. If the stories have a dream consistency which affects readers powerfully, it is probably irrelevant that they lack ordinary consistency. Dick was asked  which science fiction writers had influenced his work the most, he replied: I started reading sf when I was about twelve and I read all I could, so any author who was writing about that time, I read.
All the parts of that book did not add up; all the ingredients did not make a coherency. Now some people are put off by that. The basic thing is, how frightened are you of chaos? And how happy are you with order? Van Vogt influenced me so much because he made me appreciate a mysterious chaotic quality in the universe which is not to be feared.
In a review of Transfinite: The Essential A. His plots are marvels of interlocking pieces, often ending in real surprises and shocks, genuine paradigm shifts, which are among the hardest conceptions to depict. And the intellectual material of his fictions, the conceits and tossed-off observations on culture and human and alien behavior, reflect a probing mind.
Each tale contains a new angle, a unique slant, that makes it stand out. Campbell Letters, Campbell says, "The son-of-a-gun gets hold of you in the first paragraph, ties a knot around you, and keeps it tied in every paragraph thereafter—including the ultimate last one".
Yet he has been read and still is. What no one seems to have noticed is that van Vogt, more than any other single SF writer, is the conduit through which the energy of Gernsbackian , primitive wonder stories have been transmitted through the Campbellian age, when earlier styles of SF were otherwise rejected, and on into SF of the present. The literary critic Leslie A. Fiedler said something similar:  Van Vogt is a test case Dick, whose extraordinary novels and stories are inconceivable without the opening onto that play of unconscious materials and fantasy dynamics released by van Vogt, and very different from the more hard-science aesthetic ideologies of his contemporaries from Campbell to Heinlein.
For example, Darrell Schweitzer writing to The New York Review of Science Fiction in  quoted a passage from the original van Vogt novelette "The Mixed Men", which he was then reading, and remarked: This is the realism, and logic, of a small boy playing with toy soldiers in a sandbox.
They only took years to develop. And this is a story in which most of the cast either have two brains or are really robots Next to this, Doc Smith was an icy realist.
Dick, who managed to put more adult characters and emotions into equally crazy situations. Campbell, when it seems to contravene everything the Golden Age stood for.
A. E. van Vogt
Plot[ edit ] Slans are evolved humans, named after their alleged creator, Samuel Lann. They have the psychic abilities to read minds and are super-intelligent. They possess near limitless stamina, "nerves of steel," and superior strength and speed. When Slans are ill or seriously injured, they retreat into a healing trance. There are two kinds of Slans.
Slightly modified for its publication in book form in and then again in , SLAN has remained one of the best-known science-fiction novels of all time. The text below is the final version published by Simon and Schuster in hard-cover format in We have included here the interesting graphics by Schneeman that appeared in the original September-December issues of Astounding Science Fiction. Her fear as they walked hurriedly along the street was a quiet, swift pulsation that throbbed from her mind to his. A hundred other thoughts beat against his mind, from the crowds that swarmed by on either side, and from inside the buildings they passed. Jommy, if the worst happens, you know what to do.