A Novel. This startling SF adventure novel is a collaboration between the classic SF grand master A. E. Van Vogt and contemporary master Kevin J. Anderson. Welcome to the world of A.E. van Vogt, the madcap storyteller who goes through plots faster than an otolaryngologist uses up tongue depressers. His books are. First published in four instalments in the September-December issues of Astounding Science Fiction, this smoothly-written and ambitious.
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He is regarded as one of the most popular, influential and complex practitioners of the mid-twentieth century, the genre’s so-called Golden Age. Alfred Vogt both “Elton” and “van” were added much later was born on April 26, on his grandparents’ farm in Edenburg, Manitoba, a tiny and now defunct Russian Mennonite community east of Gretna, ManitobaCanada in the Mennonite West Reserve. Until age four, van Vogt and his family spoke only a dialect of Low German at home.
For the first dozen or so years of his life, van Vogt’s father, a lawyer, moved his family several times within western Canada, alighting successively in Neville, Saskatchewan ; Morden, Manitoba ; and finally Winnipeg, Manitoba. His son 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. By the s, living in Winnipeg, father Henry worked as an agent for a steamship company, but the stock market crash of proved financially disastrous, as the family was unable to afford to send Alfred to college.
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 throughhe also began writing short radio dramas for local radio station CKY, as well as conducting interviews published in trade magazines.
He added the middle name “Elton” at some point in the mids, and at least one confessional story ‘s “To Be His Keeper” was sold to the Toronto Starwho misspelled his name “Alfred Alton Bogt” in the byline.
Byvan Vogt decided to switch to writing science fiction, a genre he enjoyed reading. Campbell ‘s novelette ” Who Goes There? Campbell, who edited Astounding and had written the story under a pseudonymsent 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 Campbell in Astounding Science Fictionthe centennial year of Darwin’s journal.
It featured a fierce, carnivorous alienthe coeurlstalking the crew of an exploration spaceship, and served as the inspiration for multiple science fiction movies, including Alien Hull, who had previously worked as a private secretary, would act as van Vogt’s typist, and be credited with writing several SF stories of her own throughout the early s.
Ineligible for military service due to his poor eyesight, van Vogt 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. Van Vogt’s first completed novel, and one of his most famous, is Slan Arkham House,which Campbell serialized in Astounding September to December Others saw van Vogt’s talent and stardom from his first story,  and in Mayvan Vogt decided to become a full-time writer, quitting his job at the Canadian Department of National Defence. 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 Prolific throughout this period, van Vogt wrote many of his more famous short stories and novels in the years from through He had been using the name “A.
To his friends in the California science fiction community, he was known as “Van”.
Van Vogt systematized his writing method, slna scenes of words or so where a new complication was added or something resolved. Several of his stories hinge on temporal conundraa favorite theme.
He stated that he acquired many slah his writing techniques from three books: Van Vogt was also always interested in the idea of all-encompassing systems of knowledge akin to modern meta-systems — the characters in his very first story used a system called “Nexialism” to analyze the alien’s behavior.
Around this time, he became particularly interested in the aa 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.
These sympathies were the subject of much critical discussion during van Vogt’s career, and afterwards. It was reprinted in over 20 collections or anthologies, and appeared many times in translation. Invan Vogt was briefly appointed as head of L. Ron Hubbard ‘s Dianetics vog in California. Van Vogt had first met Sla inand slam interested in his Dianetics theories, which were published shortly thereafter. Vott was the secular precursor to Hubbard’s Church of Scientology ; van Vogt would have no association with Scientology, as he did not approve of its mysticism.
The California Dianetics operation went broke nine months later, but never went bankrupt, due to van Vogt’s arrangements with creditors. Very shortly after that, van Vogt and his wife opened voogt own Dianetics center, partly financed by his writings, until he “signed off” around In practical terms, what this meant was that from throughvan Vogt’s focus was on Dianetics, and no new story ideas flowed from his typewriter.
However, during the s, wlan Vogt retrospectively patched together many of his previously published stories into novels, sometimes creating vogy interstitial material to cogt 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 most well-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 Still, although Van Vogt averaged a new book title every ten months from tonone of them were new stories.
All of van Vogt’s books from were fix-ups, or collections of previously published stories, or expansions of previously published short stories to novel length, w republications of his books under new titles.
All were based on story material written and originally published between and As well, one non-fiction work, The Hypnotism Handbookappeared inthough it had apparently been written much saln.
Some of van Vogt’s more well-known work was still produced using the fix-up method. In xlan, he published the fix-up The Weapon Shops of Isher. In the same decade, van Vogt also produced collections and fixups such as The Mixed MenThe War Against the Rulland the two “Clane” novels, Empire of the Atom and The Wizard of Linnwhich were inspired slwn Asimov ‘s Foundation series by Roman imperial historyspecifically the reign of Claudius.
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. Though the constant re-packaging of his older work meant that he had never really been away from the book publishing world, van Vogt had not published any wholly new fiction for almost 12 years when he decided to return to writing in 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.
Slan by A.E. van Vogt
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 ; Novels that were written simply as novels, and not serialized magazine pieces or fix-ups, were very rare in van Vogt’s oeuvre, but began to appear regularly beginning in the s.
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. Van Vogt’s first wife, Edna Mayne Hull, died in Van Vogt would marry Lydia Bereginsky in ; they remained together until his death.
When the film Alien appeared, it was noted that the plot closely matched the plot of van Vogt’s Voyage of the Space Beagle. On January 26,A. He was survived by his second wife, the former Lydia Bereginsky. Critical opinion about the quality of van Vogt’s work is sharply divided.
A. E. van Vogt
An early and articulate critic was Damon Knight. In a  chapter-long essay reprinted in In Search of Wonder entitled “Cosmic Jerrybuilder: Knight described The World of Null-A as “one of the worst allegedly adult science fiction stories ever published”. Concerning van Vogt’s writing, Knight said:.
In general van Vogt seems to me to fail consistently as a writer in these elementary ways: 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. About Empire of the Atom Knight wrote:. If you can only throw your reasoning powers out of gear — something many van Vogt fans find easy to do — you’ll enjoy this one.
Knight also expressed misgivings about van Vogt’s politics. He noted that van Vogt’s stories almost invariably present absolute monarchy in a favorable light. InKnight retraced some of his criticism after finding out about Vogt’s working methods about writing down his dreams: This explains a good deal about the stories, and suggests that it is really useless to attack them by conventional standards.
If the stories have s dream consistency which affects readers powerfully, it is probably irrelevant that they lack vovt consistency. Knight’s criticism greatly damaged van Vogt’s reputation.
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. But there’s no doubt who got me off originally and that was A. There was in van Vogt’s writing a mysterious quality, and this was especially true in The World of Null A [sic].
All the parts of that book did not add up; all the ingredients did not make a coherency.