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by : Ray
Published 6 June 2013

The complete stories and novels of A. E. van Vogt: synopses, comments and ratings

date of last update: November 19, 2016 [1].

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Biographical Notice

2. The 101 short stories and novellas

3. The 35 Novels

4. References

1. BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE

A. E. van Vogt (1912-2000) was born on a farm in the vicinity of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) in a family of Dutch extraction. He spoke Frison (a Germanic language spoken in the north of Holland [2]) at home until the age of four.

He was brought up in the small rural town of Neville in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan until the family moved to Winnipeg when he was ten. He became a professional writer in the early thirties after working briefly for the Canadian government, writing mostly true-confession-type romance stories and a considerable number (50-odd) of radio scripts, and became the Winnipeg correspondent for McLean Publishing Group, writing interviews and articles for various corporate publications.

He wrote his first science-fiction story Vault of the Beast in 1938 (published in 1940 [3]), followed shortly by Black Destroyer, his first published story. It made the cover of the July 1939 issue of the prestigious Astounding Science-Fiction magazine and is often considered to have launched the "golden age" of science fiction. From then on he wrote mostly science fiction, with the exception of a few stories and a novel (The Book of Ptath) in the fantastic vein [4].

A. E. [5] moved to Ottawa to work for the Canadian Government at the beginning of WW2, and continued to write there, in Quebec in the Gatineau hills near Ottawa where he lived after resigning his post in the spring of 1941, and in Toronto where he bought a house with his wife, the author E. Mayne Hull [6].

In 1944 when A. E. was 32 the couple moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to write full-time - but only for five or so more years, after which his preoccupation with psychology in general and with the General Semantics of Alfred Korzybski and with the science of dianetics of Ron Hubbard in particular [7] resulted in a long 14-year gap in his writing career, apart from a number of "fix-up novels" [8] that he published during the fifties and sixties.

Although van Vogt started writing science fiction again in 1964 [9], he never quite recovered the "golden-age" touch that had put him on the s-f map.

2. THE SHORT STORIES AND NOVELLAS

no. Date of Publi-cation _____Title__________ Variant_Title ___________________________Synopsis/Comments_________________________________________ Rating
1 1939 July Black Destroyer An exploratory mission lands on a planet apparently devoid of all life except for a rather powerful-looking feline-like creature, and makes the mistake of bringing "Pussy" on board for examination. They will need all their wits and pooled resources to survive when the big cat - desperately in need of life-giving "id" from their bodies - lets loose with all he’s got! A slightly modified version of this story became the chapters 1-6 in his (great) 1950 "fix-up" novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle. 10
2 1939 Dec. Discord in Scarlet This superb story features the amazingly-developed and quite indestructible - but marooned in space - creature Xtl, who again poses an enormous threat to the very existence of the first human exploration expedition outside of the Milky Way galaxy. It was obviously a major source [10] for Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film Alien. This hard-to-forget story became chapters 13-21 in The Voyage of the Space Beagle. 10
3 1940 Jan. The Sea Thing A thing - a shark-god - capable of assuming human form comes ashore on a remote Pacific island to wreak revenge on a team of shark fishermen. Told most effectively from the thing’s point of view. 8
4 1940 Apr. Repetition The Gryb (1971) An emissary from Earth struggles for survival on a moon of Jupiter in horrendous conditions, accompanied by a deadly enemy, with the fate of the solar system at stake. Against both human and animal foes (a would-be assassin and the gigantic, practically-invulnerable blood-lusting Grybs of the variant title) alike, intelligence and resourcefulness are the keys to success. 8
5 1940 Aug. Vault of the Beast An amazingly-imaginative story of an invading alien who can change form at will, on a mission to find and capture Earth’s most distinguished (and young and rich) mathematician to solve an essential enigma whose resolution could change the fate of the universe. Will man’s resourcefulness and energy and spirit of decision win the day? This was actually the first s-f story that van Vogt’s wrote, but it was published after Black Destroyer for editorial reasons [3]. 9
6 1941 Apr. Not the First When a spaceship gets utterly lost 500,000 light-years from Earth after trying out a new faster-than-light atomic drive (!! - this was written in 1941), you need to come up with some really original thinking to get back on track! 8
7 1941 July The Seesaw An average-bloke kind of guy enters a mysterious gunshop that has suddenly appeared in town (and which no one else has actually been able to enter) and finds himself in the midst of a civil war seven thousand years into the future. And that is just for starters – colossal energy forces and time swings also come into play. There is a curiously modern-American feel to the central motif of gunshops as a refuge against the tyrannical tendencies of central bureaucracies: the omnipresent slogan that we are introduced to on the first page is « THE RIGHT TO BUY WEAPONS IS THE RIGHT TO BE FREE ». The civil-war theme which is central to the story is a recurrent one in much of van Vogt’s later (not always very successful, moreover) work. This rare story [11] became the initial Prologue chapter of his well-known 1951 "fix-up" novel The Weapon Shops of Isher. 8
8 1942 March Recruiting Station • Masters of Time (1950)
• Earth’s Last Fortress(1960)
Volunteers for an overseas liberation struggle get transported from a recruiting station into a hugely-distant future intergalactic war desperate for ever-more cannon fodder. Action and ideas galore ! 9
9 1942 April Co-Operate Or Else! Cooperate or Else (1999) An Earth scientist engages in a deadly struggle with an Ezwal - a lone member of a highly-intelligent but seemingly-innocuous species that wants at all costs to prevent the professor from revealing the truth about Ezwal capabilities - on an uninhabited jungle planet, when in the midst of their struggle appears a patrol spaceship of mankind’s most dreaded enemy, the Rull. This was the first of the really remarkable Rull series of stories – the others being The Second Solution (1942), The Rull (1948), The Green Forest (1949), The Sound (1950), and The First Rull (1978), as well as the fix-up novel The War Against The Rull (1959). 9
10 1942 April Asylum The struggle of a mysterious Galactic Observer to protect an underdeveloped Earth from the menace of invasion by deadly beings with vastly superior IQs. 8
11 1942 July Secret Unattainable A German scientist who uses what he terms real as opposed to functional mathematics to wreak revenge on the Nazi regime which had executed his beloved brother for political reasons. 7
12 1942 Aug. The Ghost A young man comes back to his home town after a 15-year absence where he meets an old man who can and does walk through closed gates and doors, who is (rightly) considered by all the town to be a ghost, who has the knack of predicting future events and who tends to mix up events past, present and future. This is a strange combination of a ghost- and mystery-story quite unlike anything else in van Vogt’s oeuvre. Interestingly enough, in the introduction to the 1948 anthology Out of the Unknown where this story was first printed in book form, it is stated that his wife and fellow-author E. Mayne Hull helped write the van Vogt stories in that book, which might help to explain the unusual content of this tale. 7
13 1942 Oct. The Second Solution How a young ezwal survives a shipwreck in the wilds of northern Canada and a fight to the death against his species’s bitterest enemy, man. Told from the ezwal’s point of view, a striking technique that van Vogt used so effectively in many of his finest stories, and which he seems to have invented. 9
14 1942 Nov. Not Only Dead Men Whalers get involved in a deadly struggle between a marooned alien spaceship undergoing emergency repairs in a remote Alaskan cove and a monstrous devil-being, a Blal, that had caused the mishap to the aliens’ ship. Told partly from the aliens’ point of view – one of van Vogt’s most effective and original techniques - this is a really good (and very hard to find) example of golden-age s-f at its best. 9
15 1942 Dec. The Weapon Shop This weapon shop is like none other ! With its surprisingly current-day-sounding slogan « THE RIGHT TO BUY WEAPONS IS THE RIGHT TO BE FREE » and powerful ultra-high-tech resources, it is part of a vast network of resistance to the all-powerful hereditary autocracy (a recurrent theme throughout van V’s oeuvre) in the far-distant future. One of the starting points for van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher series, this is by far the most political and ideological of his golden-age stories, and - no doubt for that very reason - not one of those that have best survived the test of time, in my humble opinion. 7
16 1942 Dec. The Flight That Failed [12] Rebirth: Earth (1971) An aircraft pilot on a critical war-time mission across the Atlantic is suddenly warned by a mysterious passenger that the flight is in mortal danger from enemy warcraft who have been informed of the flight’s secret contents and of its flight plan. The passenger turns out to possess supernatural powers that are turned to good use to save the ship and the whole Allied war effort from catastrophe.
We note that this story was credited to E. Mayne Hull (A. E. van Vogt’s first wife) alone in the December 1942 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction where it first appeared, and also in short-story anthologies published in the fifties, but that it was credited to both A. E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull in two later van Vogt anthologies, The Proxy Intelligence and Other Mind Benders (1971) and The Gryb (1976). By far the most likely explanation for this discrepancy is that van Vogt did not in fact collaborate on the writing of the story at all, and that the later publications were partially attributed to him for commercial reasons, in view of his much greater notoriety.
7
17 1943 Jan. The Search A train traveller notices a friendly sort of young woman selling extremely original if not miraculous objects to other passengers and decides to follow her when she gets off the train, with mind-blowing consequences. A strikingly original story later incorporated into the 1970 fix-up novel Quest For the Future. 8
18 1943 Feb. The Witch A young teacher comes to the seaside town where his great-grandmother is supposed to have been buried, only to find the lady in good health although apparently capable of being in two places at the same time. The more he observes her, the more he begins to understand the mortal danger she represents for his young wife, whose body the old witch (yes, she is one) would like to be rejuvenated in at midnight on a certain day. With the help of a group of other witches the hubby saves the day in extremis. Complete with a midnight grave-digging scene and full of eerie atmosphere, this was one of van Vogt’s rare adventures into the supernatural vein, quite possibly influenced in that by his wife Edna Mayne Hull, co-author of the 1948 anthology Out of the Unknown in which this story first appeared in book form. 7
19 1943 Apr. Abdication [12] The Invisibility Gambit (1971) A space-opera kind of story with good pace and a rather neat twist at the end, where two adventurers (one of whom turns out to be Arthur Blord, the swashbuckling hero of a series of five stories by E. Mayne Hull that were integrated into her 1954 fix-up novel Planets for Sale) get mixed up in a violent intrigue involving huge mining rights on a faraway planet, and try to survive with the aid of a new-fangled and very neat invisibility suit.
We note this story was signed by E. Mayne Hull (only) in the April 1943 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction where it first appeared, but that it was credited to both A. E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull in the van Vogt anthologies in which it was later republished (rebaptised as The Invisibility Gambit). This was apparently a (rather dubious) commercial ploy due to van Vogt’s greater notoriety, since the text of the later editions is identical to the original 1943 story by E. Mayne Hull.
7
20 1943 July M33 in Andromeda An Earth spaceship exploring a new galaxy finds that all of its planets have been completely transformed and returned to steamy-prehistoric geological status by an incredibly powerful and omnipresent being that also endangers not only the spaceship but the whole of mankind if effective counter-action is not undertaken quickly. This brilliant tale later became integrated into van Vogt’s first (and best) fix-up novel, The Voyage of the Space Beagle. 10
21 1943 July The Great Engine A revolutionary new type of engine is discovered half-buried on a hillside by an entrepreneuring engineer in the science-minded (then-future) post-war America of 1948. But there is competition for the find, not to be trifled with... 9
22 1943 Sept. Concealment What happens when the first (gigantic) exploratory spaceship from Earth discovers a meteorological station on an asteroid manned by a powerful and resourceful humanoid Watcher (from whose point of view the story is initially and very effectively told), who promptly - but unsuccessfully thanks to energetic action by the earthmen - tries to destroy himself and his installation to avoid the discovery by the earth invaders of the whereabouts of the Fifty Suns civilization hidden somewhere in the vastness of the Greater Magellanic Cloud galaxy. This inventive story became the first episode in the 1952 fix-up novel The Mixed Men (renamed Mission to the Stars in 1955). 8
23 1943 Oct. The Storm A galactic gas-storm of unusual proportions in the Greater Magellanic Cloud galaxy plays a key role in the clash between an invading Earth super-cruiser and the defenders of the Fifty Suns civilization (descendants of the robots who had fled from Earth fifteen thousand years before to escape massacre) who desperately want to keep hidden their exact location within that galaxy. To complicate matters there are different factions within the Fifty Suns civilization: a minority of Dellian robots with superior intelligence but no creative powers, a majority of non-Dellians with greater creative capacities, and a small minority of Mixed Men who have both types of brains plus telepathic powers, to which latter group the hero Captain Malby belongs. But the Earth ship Star Cluster, ruled with an iron hand by the noble Lady Laurr of the aristocratic clan that rules the Milky Way galaxy (!) has a secret weapon that saves the day time and time again: Lady Laurr’s closest confidant, a woman psychologist who just can’t be fooled! This is a sequel to the story Concealment (1943) and was followed shortly by its own sequel, The Mixed Men (1945). 8
24 1943 Nov. The Beast This starts off as a sequel to The Great Engine as James Pendrake continues his search for the mysterious abandoned atomic engine he had found on a hilltop two years earlier in 1948. But it quickly veers off into a wild tale of adventure on the moon where Pendrake has been taken by a secret Nazi organization that had stolen the engine - the Allies have won the war and are occupying Germany, but the ultra-efficient and technically very advanced underground Nazis are actively preparing for the revenge match. After escaping from their clutches, he discovers a system of tunnels in the moon leading to an underground settlement created by a dead civilization millions of years previously and where people and animals of all sorts - notably a Neanderthal man, a sabre-tooth tiger and a large number of cowboys and rough men from the Far West, not to mention some Indians and a group of blue-skinned natives - have acquired immortality after having been teletransported there from a particular remote trail in the west of the USA throughout the ages. The brutish but very clever Neanderthaler, who is a million years old (over time man’s – and even Neanderthal man’s in this case - brainpower develops to ever-higher stages : this is a theme that van Vogt will return to repeatedly later on) is the chieftain of this strange colony, and Pendrake has to use all his wits and (exceptional) force to survive in this ruthless camp, whose main activity is organizing raids on the Nazi settlement on the surface to steal their women (!). An amazing and quite extravagantly imaginative - and well-told albeit not particularly credible - story that was never republished, but was partially integrated into the (even wilder) fix-up novel of the same name in 1963. 7.5
25 1944 Jan. Far Centaurus Getting to Centaurus on a spaceship can take a long time indeed, and when you get there, there will be surprises! 9
26 1944 March The Rulers A very resourceful man goes up against an incredible plot by ultra-advanced and very clever aliens to take over the nation, and survives to tell the story. 8
27 1944 April The Changeling Lesley Craig is a 50-year-old general manager of a prosperous firm who realizes one day that not only does he feel and look like a 30-year-old, but that he cannot remember anything about what happened before he took on his current position four years previously. That is the start of a dramatic series of adventures including a) getting kidnapped by the President of the United States, b) learning that he has toti-potent blood cells that enable him not only to remain forever young but also to regrow eventual lost parts of his body (which turns out to be very handy in view of what is in store for him) and c) that there is a plot afoot to impose a military dictatorship on the country which only he can prevent. 8
28 1944 July A Can of Paint An average-kind-of-guy space-pilot finds a can of paint with unusual properties on Venus, and uses his wits to make the best use of it. 8
29 1944 Aug. Juggernaut How a small block of steel that suddenly appears in your living room can change the fate of the world (well, WW2 anyway). 7
30 1944 Nov. The Harmonizer How an ibis plant of extraterrestrial origin first puts an end to the reign of the dinosaurs and then dramatically changes the fate of the Earth again many millions of years later. 9
31 1945 Jan. The Mixed Men The giant earth exploration cruiser Star Cluster has managed under the brilliant leadership of the noble Lady Laurr and with the help of the ship’s psychologist (plus a lot of luck) to locate all of the inhabited planets of the Fifty Suns civilization in the Greater Magellanic Cloud. But there is resistance to Earth rule by many of the Mixed Men minority of the Fifty Suns civilization, who have telepathic powers and very superior brains, and who launch an all-out assault both on their own government and on the earthship. But the secret leader of the Mixed Men, Captain Malby, is pro-Earth and in love with Lady Laurr, so he is enrolled to stop the takeover which could endanger not only the earthship but Earth itself. Ding-dong action ensues with a by no means obvious outcome, but love wins the day in the end. I do believe that this could be described as pure space-opera with a strong vV touch (big brains, mind control, high-tech, battleships, aristocratic domination and lots of fast-paced action). 7
32 1945 May The Purpose A dynamic young lady reporter investigates a fire at a mysterious local laboratory, and starts to unravel a diabolical plot of mind-boggling proportions. A complex tale with ghost-story overtones (I mean, people keep walking through walls, and our heroine wakes up in fine shape in a strange place after having been murdered!) and with a good dose of action, as well as true vV-style theorizing about big subjects. I loved this line in particular: « The apparition stared at her out of big, brown, terrified eyes. Its lips parted and spluttered gibberish at her. At least it would have been gibberish to anyone unaccustomed to the mumblings of editors and interviewees ». Another good one was when the reporter’s husband is on the receiving end of a long and baffling (to him and to us) explanation of just what has been going on, and replies to the question "Is that clear?" with the thought: It sounded like Yogi mouthings. 8
33 1945 June Heir Apparent Heir Unapparent (1952) A dying President-scientist uses his pet theory of Contradiction Force to ensure the continued freedom of a world menaced by the rise of a seemingly unstoppable military conspiracy. 7
34 1946 May A Son is Born The first in the (strange) "Clane" series of stories, that were all incorporated into the 1957 fix-up novel Empire of the Atom. Here the Empress of Linn, a hereditary ruler whose family has been dominant for ever (a typical van Vogt political set-up), gives birth to Clane, a mutant (because of accidental exposure to atomic radiation) son who narrowly escapes being put to death right off because of his body malformations, but who survives to become the centre of the whole series of stories. We are some 7000 years after a nuclear holocaust that has left the Earth devoid of machinery, but although the weaponry consists of swords, bows and arrows and lances and they wear Roman-type armour, they do have space ships (!) that have enabled the Linns to colonize and rule the planets too. Apparently inspired by Robert Graves’s Roman-era novel I, Claudius, this whole series has not particularly well passed the test of time, I dare to say. 6
35 1946 July Film Library Documentary films about atomic motors, interplanetary travel, jungles on Venus and anti-gravity plates among other wonders start to appear in the catalogue of a film lending-library in the California of 1946. There has been a glitch in the distribution system in the far-off future world of 2011 (!?), and a certain chaos in the lives of those involved in the circuit ensues until the time-warp error has been corrected. Very imaginative and full of human interest. 9
36 1946 Aug. Child of the Gods The second of the (rather silly) "Clane" series, where the mutant and very clever heir to the Linn empire starts growing up and puts his superior brain to work behind the scenes (he is still rather a pariah) to achieve victory for the royal invasion forces on Mars. 6
37 1946 Oct. The Chronicler • Siege of the Unseen (1959)
• The Three Eyes of Evil (1973)
A young businessman survives a car crash only to find that the accident has revealed that he has a previously-unsuspected third eye ! And then he spots a young woman shadowing him who also has one ! And then he gets transported to a time warp where everyone has one ! And then... this very original and imaginative story will keep you on hooks right to the very end, guaranteed ! 8
38 1946 Dec. Hand of the Gods Dictatorship and the struggle for power (a recurring van Vogt theme) on war-torn Mars, where the mutant hero Clane (this is the third of the series) uses his wits and secret weapons to good avail. Not quite my cup of tea, but full of drama and quite interesting personalities. 7
39 1947 Jan. The Cataaaaa The Cataaaa (1950) This cat is something else! Never underestimate one of them! Everyone I think has at times had the feeling that they seem to float through existence on a plane that sometimes but not always coincides with ours, and van Vogt provides here an intriguing and nicely-told possible key to this enigma ... 9
40 1947 April Home of the Gods The fourth in the "Clane" series of stories, no more convincing than the others. Here the wily Clane uses his knowledge of atomic power and the prevailing superstitious mind-set to win yet another war, this time on Venus, and to thereafter settle down into his role as the power behind the throne back home on Earth. 6
41 1947 June Centaurus II A colonization expedition to far-off Alpha Centaurus finds, after a thirty-year trip plagued by serious internal strife for control of the ship, that the only potentially habitable planet there has a chlorine environment and is inhabited by not-particularly-friendly aliens with advanced space technology. The ship’s commander then decides to set out for the yet farther-out Sirius star system, after summarily executing the youthful leader of the opposition party on board that wants the ship to go back home, and after 47 more years of flight and several bloody changes of leadership they find that the only candidate planet of that system is inhabited by sulphur-breathing aliens who react to their attempt to atom-bomb them with devastating efficiency. Doggedly - after more strife and executions - they continue their trek on towards the Procius star system, even though they are running out of fuel and have to progressively destroy the inner structure of their ship to feed its atomic motors. After thirty more years and more bloody internal takeovers they do find planets of Procius with oxygen-based atmospheres, all already occupied though. But they are able to communicate with one of the many alien spaceships that they encounter there, which manages to show them how to get back to Earth, at triple the speed of light, in only three years’ time! However yet more bloody in-fighting ensues that, combined with the extensive damage done to the internals of the ship, thwarts their attempt to at long last get back home and report on what they have found.
The central theme of the mortal menace of internecine strife to the viability of long-term space travel is interesting, but not as convincingly portrayed as in the stories that made up The Voyage of the Space Beagle.
Although never republished, possibly because of its considerable length, this story was partially incorporated into the 1965 fix-up novel Rogue Ship.
7
42 1947 Sept. Defense A short but shattering account of what happens when the first explorers reach the moon. Awesome! 9
43 1947 Dec. The Barbarian This is the fifth and final installment in the "Clane" series of stories. Here we see how the Viking-like big bearded barbarian invaders from one of Jupiter’s moons (whose very existence had hitherto been unsuspected by the hereditary and very autocratic Linn dynasty on Earth!) take over in ultra-violent fashion from the decadent Linns - but then have to contend with the mutant Clane, who has a big surprise up his sleeve for them. Not vV’s most credible effort, by a long shot. Lots of (gory) action, though. 6
44 1947 Feb. The Ship of Darkness When you do a time-travel jump into 3,000,000 A.D. you are going to have problems! But things might just work out in the end … 7
45 1948 May The Rull Professor Jamieson, the foremost Earth specialist on the ferocious Rull civilization that has been ravaging the Milky Way galaxy for thousands of years, comes face to face with one of them (who turns out to be a Mr. Big in his own team) and has a rousing series of (violent) victories and defeats in the ensuing ding-dong battle for first dominance and then just survival - they are both temporarily marooned on a forsaken planet but hordes of battleships on each side are about to arrive on the scene. The question is: can Jamieson use his wiles and psychological stratagems to capture the Rull and at long last discover why they are so relentlessly opposed to a peaceful settlement of their conflict with mankind? This is the very best of the whole Rull series of stories that were later amalgamated into the not-quite-satisfying fix-up novel The War Against the Rull (1959). 9
46 1948 July The Great Judge About a leading scientist’s reaction to being condemned to death for having dared to suggest in private conversation that it might be a good thing if the all-powerful absolute ruler were replaced by someone more in touch with the common man. 8
47 1948 Aug. The Monster Resurrection (1949) Aliens of the ever-expanding Ganae race check out Earth as a suitable colony site, where they discover relics of a dead but obviously very advanced civilization. So they use their resuscitating equipment to find out what happened ... Powerfully recounted from the aliens’ point of view, this is one of van Vogt’s greatest achievements without a doubt. 10
48 1948 Nov. Dormant The US Army finds something strange on an isolated Pacific island after WW2, and has trouble, to say the least, in reacting appropriately. Told from the thing’s own viewpoint (a most effective vV technique), this apocalyptic story is very hard to forget. 9
49 1949 Jan. Dear Pen Pal Letter from the Stars (1952) One heck of an original exchange of letters between a paralyzed patient in a hospital bed and an alien postal correspondent from another star-system, with a very neat twist at the end indeed. 9
50 1949 Feb. The Weapon Shops of Isher We are seven thousand years into the future and the Empress Immelda is the young and brilliant (and unmarried) ruler of the Isher Dynasty over the whole of the solar system. But there is in existence a mysterious but ever-present Gun Shops organization, which has advanced science and extraordinary handguns that it makes available to the civilian population – for defensive purposes only – to maintain a delicate balance of power in Isher society that the Empress or her predecessors have never been able to break down. With the upheaval caused by the intrusion of a 1951 man as recounted in The Seesaw still to be resolved, a local fellow with amazing "callidetic" powers comes to the imperial city with big ideas and he does manage to get big things done indeed, including getting close to the Empress herself, with the help of a very cooperative Machine Shop lady agent and of a particularly on-top-of-it-all WS leader. On the whole, the best of the whole Isher series!
NB: the description of the 1951 "fix-up" novel of the same name can be seen below.
7.5
51 1949 Apr. The Earth Killers Atomic bombing of US cities fomented by crazed right-wing (and racist) militarists in our own day: "24 Hours Season 7" is not far away! vV is unusually political here even for him, and not very convincingly as far as I am concerned (everyone including the ace military hero has a rather nasty turn of mind), even if things do move along at a cracking pace in this ultra-violent story featuring mass murder and brutal executions galore. 6
52 1949 June The Green Forest Man is at war throughout the galaxy with the Yevds – who can assume any shape whatever via light distortion – and must at all costs prevent this formidable enemy from discovering the critical weak point in their defensive system. 8
53 1949 Aug. Project Spaceship The Problem Professor (1971) A keen pilot enlists the help of a famous atomic scientist and of a group of space enthusiasts to try to persuade the President of the United States to agree to the funding of a program to develop a spaceship to transport people towards the stars or at least beyond the Earth’s gravitational field. Perhaps this story had an s-f ring to it when it was first published, but even then I would have thought that the reality of the German V2 rocket program during the late war would have made sending rockets into space seem a rather obvious forthcoming development. This rather flat story was - surprisingly - selected by van Vogt to represent his work in the 1949 anthology My Best Science Fiction Story. 6
54 1949 Nov. Final Command Robots and men are on the verge of an all-our war of extermination against each other and an impromptu night-time meeting between the leaders of each camp in an amusement park to talk things over will decide the fate of both species. 7
55 1950 Feb. The Sound A little boy undertakes a very dangerous mission for the government to prevent man’s mortal enemies the Yevd (who can change shape at will, notably to assume human form) from infiltrating Earth’s most secret shipyard where the ultimate anti-Yevd battleship is being prepared. Great atmosphere! 9
56 1950 March Rogue Ship The Twisted Men (1964) A very wealthy scientist-cum-magnate has financed and organized a spaceship expedition to the Alpha Centauri star system bearing colonists to perpetuate the human race on the planets there, because his savvy calculations have shown that the sun is on the verge of an imminent blow-up that will destroy the Earth. Bad news (this is on page 1): the spaceship is discovered reentering the earth’s atmosphere after an apparently failed mission! But wait: the ship is also at the same time nearing its faraway target, thanks to a time-zone effect that no one had realized could happen! Quite a bit of action occurs when our hero tries to regain control of this super-ship (back in the solar-system version of the time-warp) in this rather hard-to-follow space opera.
This story was later partially integrated into the (quite different) fix-up novel of the same name, Rogue Ship (1965).
7
57 1950 May War of Nerves A great exploratory Earthship is suddenly invaded by irresistable hypnotic images when nearing a new star-system, and is diverted from its course straight towards the nearest sun-star. But the central character’s Nexialist (holistic) approach to scientific and psychological phenomena saves the great earthship from hypnotically-induced ultra-violent internal strife and utter disaster. No doubt written with a view to integration into the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle, which was published shortly afterwards. 8
58 1950 July Enchanted Village • The Sands of Mars(1958)
• The Enchanted Village(1960)
A marooned earthman tries to adapt to a (very) difficult environment on Venus where there is nothing but boundless deserts and bare waterless mountains, apart from a completely deserted ancient village with some odd and apparently unsuitable installations. Will he be able to survive? 9
59 1950 Sept. Automaton Dear Automaton (1951) When robots get control of governments around the world and outlaw sex for humans, bombs start blasting off all over the place. But humans have a secret weapon which the robots don’t: psychology … 7
60 1950 Dec. Process An intelligent plant-like life-form mobilizes its considerable resources to defend its planet from an invading Earth spaceship, with quite surprising results. 9
61 1951 Feb. Haunted Atoms Five hundred years after a mysterious disaster had destroyed an advanced but now-forgotten civilization, a farmer is killed when digging near a long-abandoned (atomic) powerhouse. His house rapidly acquires a reputation for being haunted and uninhabitable until the farmer’s neice and her husband move in and manage to convince academics from a nearby university to explore the mysterious source of energy that has caused all the trouble. The central idea of atomic warfare destroying not only traces but memories of man’s technological achievements is most effective, but the development of the theme is surprisingly flat. 6
62 1951 Mar. The Star-Saint Colonists from Earth arrive on a planet to discover that a previous settlement has been wiped out by unknown forces, and they have to try to survive in the face of successively ever-more-powerful attacks by the rocks, trees and fauna of this seemingly attractive but in fact utterly hostile world. Fortunately there is a mysterious star-traveller with unusual powers who gets the settlement on the right road. Too twinged with the supernatural for my taste but a rather good tale on the whole, with a spice of sex (the star-saint is utterly irresistible to all of the women in the settlement) for added interest. 7
63 1951 Aug. This Joe The First Martian (1966) A Peruvian Indian proves his worth in the thin atmosphere of the mountains on Mars, in spite of the hostility and aggressive discrimination prevalent among the other workers there. A powerful and early denunciation of racist attitudes. 8
64 1951 Nov. Fulfillment Fulfilment (1964) An intelligent Thing that has been sitting on a hillside for time immemorial suddenly comes into thought contact with another ultra-intelligent machine Brain. This gets things moving along at a dizzy pace as the genial inventor of the Brain and the lady owner of the whole installation in which it is located get involved and we start understanding some of the scope of the titanic struggle that develops. Told most impressively from the viewpoint of the Thing, this is an imaginative story with lots of pace. It is the last of van Vogt’s golden-age stories. 9
65 1963 July Itself! Aliens tangle with an abandoned wartime robot-mine in the depths of the Pacific. The whole thing is over in less than three rather enjoyable but nevertheless somewhat skimpy pages. 7
66 1963 Sept. The Expendables A spaceship on an exploration mission encounters crafty and powerful aliens who threaten to take over after they are brought on board – and a ferocious struggle breaks out in parallel among the ship’s leading officers for control of the ship. Interesting but not as slick as the similar situation in The Voyage of the Space Beagle. This story was integrated, with considerable modifications, into the fix-up novel Rogue Ship (1965). 7
67 1964 July The Silkie We are amazingly far into the future and the narrator is Nat Cemp, a class-C Silkie (there are other types), a very evolved form of humanoid with telepathic and teletransportation faculties, who has no longer 5 but 188 senses, who can zip around in space stark naked and who changes metabolism regularly, notably to become a human-fish at home in a watery environment or to assume normal human form. Well, at the beginning of this adventure some V-types (V for Variant) show him a young boy with amazing abilities who may or may not be a son of his and whom the V’s want to execute because he may become too powerful to be controlled - but to be able to do that a C-type has to approve the execution. Will Nat approve? And what really is this boy? How can Nat prevent an eventual menace to all of mankind? Pretty wild stuff, but almost surprisingly readable and very inventive, with the theme of man’s eventual evolutionary improvement enticingly in the background. 8
68 1965 Feb. The Replicators A farmer’s very determined armed conflict with aliens who can replicate whatever comes along. In a light, even humorous vein, quite enjoyable, in spite of its simplistic story line. 8
69 1965 July Research Alpha [13] A ruthless doctor in a research lab is under pressure to produce results so he secretly tries out his new serum to vastly accelerate evolutionary development (that he has tested on rats with inconclusive results) on two unsuspecting office workers, with variable but amazing results, astounding even to the superiorly-intelligent aliens who are monitoring the lab’s results - and mankind’s progress in general - from behind the scenes. 7
70 1966 May Silkies in Space Silkies are advanced beings with terrific mental and physical powers, notably the ability to travel at will in space, but there are only a few of them. They need all their powers plus some clever thinking to protect their ally, mankind, and ensure them a secure place in the solar system. 8
71 1966 May The Ultra Man An alien spy tangles on the outskirts of the solar system with an ESP-trained psychologist who desperately tries to thwart his monstrous plans. 8
72 1967 Oct. Enemy of the Silkies A Silkie, a practically indestructible super-being with fabulous mind-reading and teleportation powers equally at home on Earth, in space, or in water, has been found murdered: what on earth or rather in space could have been capable of such an seemingly-impossible deed, which places all other Silkies, and the whole human race of which they are the protectors, in grave danger? Nat Cemp, the Silkie who rushes to the murder scene to investigate, immediately comes up against a very strange being-thing possessing deadly mental powers of its own, and must undertake truly superhuman or rather supersilkie efforts to engage these deadly creatures from the Silkies’ own past and to thereby protect the humans of Earth, including his own dearly-beloved human wife, from their menace. The twists and turns of mental jousting and space-telepathy and psychological finesses will have you reeling and in grave danger of losing the thread. 7
73 1968 Oct. The Proxy Intelligence A Galactic Observer with great powers helps – or rather tries to help – mankind stave off invasion by a group of very powerful, very dreaded, and very dreadful vampirish Dreegs. Confusing but full of good moments. 8
74 1969 Jan. Him Josiah Him is absolute dictator of Earth, controlling all but a few areas of resistance in western North America and in mountain regions elsewhere. Since research has shown that feeding ground-up planarium worms trained to have conditioned reflexes to other planarium worms produced better-trained planarium worms than those who had been fed otherwise, Him has decided that feeding ground-up university professors, students and other experts to students will therefore accelerate their learning process, while also providing a method for eliminating recalcitrant subjects. Need I continue? Suffice it to say that the rebellion against Him succeeds thanks to a wily stratagem and a stop is put to the grinding-up of intellectuals and other opponents. Ugh! 4
75 1969 April Laugh, Clone, Laugh! [14] This is a clone story to end all clone stories (hopefully). Juniko is a xillion-to-one-chance deviation, a unique case within the history of his royal line, a Good Guy. So he embarks on a program to develop clones of himself so that there could be more good guys. That works out quite well, although because Juniko has a tendency to smile a lot, being such a good guy, most of his clones are laughers. But eventually there is a rebellion and Juniko’s executioners decide to reincarnate him via clonage as a nonparanoid Juniko the Second. Now here comes the punch line, get ready: Juniko the Second doesn’t smile or laugh or even cry - he screams. He is the first I Scream Clone! 6
76 1969 Sept. Humans, Go Home! Jana (1971) Miliss and Dana are the only two humans on the Jana planet, and their mission is to help the population evolve progressively towards a more advanced state of civilization, more compatible with the ultra-developed nature of the rest of the human-controlled galaxy. But there are big problems, not the least of which is the increasing decadence of the human race and a seemingly-inevitable death-wish urge on the part of its females such as Miliss. Also there is a civil-war situation on Jana and the hard-line group which has the upper hand wants to execute the humans as traitors. And the leaders of both clans have the hots for Miliss, as does Dana. But after a series of ups and down and close shaves the special (well magical, really) powers of the humans and their friendly human-trained Janae ally win the day. Not as fast-paced as it sounds, this is actually a rather long story that I think wants to be poetical at times without really succeeding. But it is nevertheless quite readable, even enjoyable. 7
77 1970 Nov. Carthing This one-and-a-half-page-long micro-story features a big brassy Buick cruising around who starts chasing a perky little Citroen that however makes a nifty escape, so he then turns his attentions to a svelte Chevrolet coming out of a garage which all of a sudden starts mounting a big buck truck! So the (driverless) Buick rams the truck out of spite and the garage supervisor sums up the situation with the comment: "Well - it’s well known that these eager fun-loving new Buicks practically drive themselves. I guess one of them finally believed it." Sort of amusing in a surprising way. 7
78 1971 Jan. The Human Operators [15] Robots have taken over Earth’s fleet of battleships and massacred all their crews except for a single man or woman slave per ship which they still need to do the dirty work and generally keep things running. But mankind finds a way … 7
79 1971 Jan. The Rat and the Snake This short and gruesome story about a guy who gets his thrills by watching his pet python gobble up captured rats – and who gets his just comeuppance in the end, thankfully – is really yucky, but maybe that is the point? 5
80 1971 Feb. The Reflected Men Edith works in a small-town library where people start showing up asking for a special crystal in the library’s rock collection. Well, not only is this crystal a special one but it is a relic of a far-off future world that - get this: - activates innumerable versions of everyone involved and thereby threatens to annihilate all but the most "perfect" (?) versions of these various individuals, for example our heroine Edith (there are multiple identical-looking copies of these imperfect people-variants living all over the place). And then it starts getting REALLY complicated. Easy to get lost here - or just to start losing interest. 7
81 1971 May All the Loving Androids A police officer investigating a woman’s suicide attempt discovers that her husband is in fact a new perfect kind of android that the real husband has ordered to replace him so that he can get away from his harassing wife. But things get complicated when it turns out that this new kind of android is being produced in secret with a view to liberating the mass of normally-subservient androids and putting humans in their proper (inferior) place. With the help of the very resourceful lady’s brother, a government physicist, the plot, which gets progressively thicker and harder to follow, may or may not get thwarted ... 6
82 1972 April Ersatz Eternal A short 5-pager wherein marooned explorers on a distant planet walk over the horizon and get transported back into the halcyon days of their youth. Not even weird, just silly. 4
83 1972 Apr. Lost: Fifty Suns For thousands of years humanoids of robotic origins have been hiding away in the Greater Magellanic Cloud from the imperial Earth civilization that rules the Milky Way galaxy with an iron hand, but now a gigantic Earth battleship has appeared in that star cluster to seek out signs of civilization there. The hero is a leader (hereditary, of course, like in vV’s other novels of the period) of the ultra-gifted Mixed Men segment of the Fifty Suns civilization and does his best to be loyal to the central Fifty Suns government while at the same time ensuring the future of his own very gifted and ambitious kind. This was originally written as an episode of the 1952 fix-up novel The Mixed Men, and was first published separately as a novella in a 1972 anthology (The Book of Van Vogt). Sort of space-opera in style and content, this clearly is only a part of a longer tale, and in that respect leaves the reader a tad dissatisfied. 7
84 1972 April The Confession A fellow who has been going downhill for some time gets caught up in a series of confusing situations involving his family’s former grand estate and social situation, his dead wife and parents, his own youthful self, a kind of metallic ghost from another time-warp and more, and manages to end up more enlightened than when the story started. The trouble is that the reader spends the whole story inside this rather awful person’s mind, not an enjoyable experience. 5
85 1972 April The Sound of Wild Laughter A long, much-too-long (52-page) account of the emotional and psychological drama of a Nobel-prize-winning woman physicist whose intimate discussions with the carefully-cared-for brain of her recently-deceased husband (also a Nobel prize-winner) who remains insanely and dangerously jealous of his former colleagues who are crowding around the sort-of-widow. No fun at all. 5
86 1972 Apr. The Timed Clock An unusually light, unpretentious and often very amusing short (13-page) tale about the awkward problems that can arise when a mysterious old grandfather clock whisks you back to the days when your own granddad was starting to grow up. By far the best story in the late (1972) and generally disappointing collection of original van Vogt stories The Book of Van Vogt. 8
87 1973 May Don’t Hold Your Breath A rather nasty-minded, very macho and antisocial wheeler-dealer struggles to have his way right to the end as the world is running out of oxygen and people have to be converted to breathing fluorine instead. Quite off-putting, really. 5
88 1973 Aug. Future Perfect A young fellow rebels against the economic and sexual rigidity of a not-at-all-perfect future society where the organization of employment, marriage, and sex are run on rigid tenets reminiscent of the People’s Republic of China in the good old days. Rather slow-paced though, and not particularly credible. 5
89 1973 Oct. All We Have on This Planet This starts off very originally as follows:
"The critic wrote, ’One of the faults of this novel is that never, during the entire 90,000 words, does the hero go to the bathroom’.
The author - myself - was sitting in the smallest room in his house. Because that was where he always read reviews of his books. In case there might be an unexpected shortage of toilet paper.Or in a moment of blind rage, during which the usual tissue stuff was not visible at the time of greatest need.
"
Well it just so happens that there is an alien invasion underway on the other side of the world, in the Himalayan mountains - and our writer-narrator gets an ESP message from a sex-partner (?) that explains why the very-superior aliens stop their assaults every four hours for an hour-long break: with his hygienic insights he realizes that they are having a group-poop session and he tips off a military relative to get them zapped while they are doing their business (an approach which drives the aliens away in disgust as it is against galactic conceptions of fair play). A tad too crude for my tastes, but sort of funny in a rather unpleasant way.
6
90 1978 Jan. Death Talk A not-very-likeable technician revolts against his even-less-likeable army slave-master who has been abusing his wife while they all lord it over a devastated post-atomic world. Hard people, a hard situation, a rather hard read. 6
91 1978 Jan. Identity This microscopic 2-pager has the narrator walking alongside a long fence and realizing, after being asked by a strange man who he is, that he doesn’t know who he is. So he walks up to the nearest building where a sign requests him to check his pockets before entering, whereupon he finds a paper in his back pocket specifying her (he turns out to be a she) new name and background - she has been given a a new identity on Earth as an alternative to being sent to a penal colony on a prison planet as punishment for an unidentified serious crime. So she enters the building feeling good about knowing who she is, and thinks that she had never had such a thought before. That’s it !
Written originally for the program book of a SF convention where van Vogt was the guest of honour, this cryptic text seems to be making a statement about freedom and identity, but as a story I think we can safely say that it lacks substance.
5
92 1978 Dec. Footprint Farm A couple quarrel about the effect the father’s farm might or might not be having on their daughter. Yes, aliens do get involved. Very slow pace, though, for a vV story, I must say. 7
93 1978 Dec. Living With Jane Robots have made such progress that robot servants look exactly like the people they replace for housekeeping missions like taking care of Jane. But there is a plot afoot for them to take over the world … 7
94 1978 Dec. Pendulum A deep-sea mining operation revives many – you wouldn’t believe how many – ancient and (of course, this being a vV story) intelligent and very gifted beings, who can communicate only with the engineer of the ship that revived them. More fantasy than science fiction but quite fun. 7
95 1978 Dec The First Rull Chronologically this is very first encounter between man and Rulls, a group of whom have come to Earth to recover a lost antigraviity raft at all costs. At the end they leave with a rather low opinion of Earthmen and their science, but knowing that they will be back. Yikes, that is a truly scary prospect ! vV’s very last addition to the Rull series of stories, and rather a must for vV fans. 8
96 1978 Dec The Male Condition Thanks to progress in psychology and with some help from friendly aliens, feelings of rage have been eliminated in men, and so there have been no cases of rape for 38 years. But a young female PhD student is assigned a mission to research this strange out-of-date behaviour, with interesting results. 6
97 1978 Dec The Non-Aristotelian Detective The non-A approach, as any vV reader knows, enables its practitioners to know for example what people are like from their expressions and the way they talk. So a non-A detective can really help the police detectives who are trying here to resolve a long-unresolved mystery. 7
98 1979 June Femworld Peter Grayson, Ph.D. and chief physicist in a high-tech research facility, is the meekest of men in a world utterly dominated by women who run everything and own everything ever since the very superior Utt aliens arrived on earth and declared that men were at the root of all Earth’s problems and had to be kept in their proper - that is to say lowly - place. And that they must all be chemically treated at puberty and thereafter obligatorily wear (Utt-designed) glasses at all times [16]. But one morning (this is on page 1) his glasses develop a major crack and he suddenly starts noticing how shapely and lonely-looking his (female of course) boss is and how intolerably bossy and disagreeable his wife is, and begins hesitatingly to take action to fight against this unjust, repressive and oppressive (for men) society. A sort of very anti-feminist version of Orwell’s (very anti-communist) 1984, this neat tale, told with verve and van Vogt’s habitual frankness about sex, is a winner that deserves to be much better known. It is in fact a sort of "fix-up story", consisting of the first five chapters of the novel Renaissance published earlier the same year, with a slightly different ending. 8
99 1984 Sept. The Pandora Principle [17] A scientific experiment has gotten out of hand, and several leading scientists involved in the experiments have been killed by their appalling creation, as an enterprising newspaper reporter starts to find out as he follows around the very beautiful and very rich daughter of one of the scientists who is searching for clues as to what in the world has been going on. Written in collaboration with Brinkie Stevens, this well-told tale marks the return of van Vogt to the bizarre and fantasy genre that he had dabbled with in the forties. 7
100 1985 Jan. The Brain The greatest intellect of his age and perhaps of all ages sees the shadowy figure of Death bending over his sickbed but refuses to leave with him because he has big – really big – plans for extending his vast empire. Death does end up leaving the sick man and comes back regularly to try again as the great man-mind faces up to other crucial crises over the years, progressively reduced to a virtually-immortal Brain essence protected by the limitless resources of future science. But all good things must come to an end – or a least a sort of end that just might be a new beginning … 7
101 1986 Sept. Prologue to Freedom We are in 2004 and Proposition 18 has been passed in California, dividing the state into peacefully-coexistant Communist (in the north) and Capitalist (in the south) regions where proponents of each system can freely choose to live and even migrate to the other side, at least in theory. The college students and intellectuals who have been energetically promoting Proposition 18 become overnight the administrators and enforcers of the new anti-capitalist regime in the north, while a massive population exchange takes place as the moneyed classes move south and the poor from the LA region go north to occupy abandoned properties there. We follow the adventures of a grocery-store owner and two student activists in San Francisco as they try, rather unsuccessfully, to come to grips, morally and financially, with the not-so-brave new world that has suddenly come into existence. Not particularly convincing politically, as everyone involved is just too naive for words, but the theme of the social, moral and psychological impact of population movements on rival socio-economic regimes is/was nevertheless a strong one, as the world saw when it happened for real only three years after this interesting political-fiction story, that unfortunately runs out of steam towards the end, was written. 7

3. THE NOVELS

no. Date ___________Title__________ __Variant_Title__ Fixup Novel ________________________Synopsis/Comments__________________________ Rating
1 1940 Sept. [18] Slan Slans are a mutant form of humans, with spectacular intelligence, mind-reading capabilities, and ... giveaway tendrils which make it hard for them to conceal their identity. The story starts with a bang on the first page when the nine-year-old slan hero gets a mind message from his mother to run for it as the secret police are closing in with the intention of killing them both. So Jommy sets off at top pace to save his life and especially to discover where the other slans who must be around somewhere are, what his genius father had been working on before he was brutally murdered, and why the pitiless ruler is so intent on eliminating slans from the face of the earth. The pace carries on from there and never really drops off, with many twists and turns, considerable human interest, and already many of van Vogt’s later trademark themes: mind control, the future evolution of mankind, the struggle for survival … Just about the most exciting sci-fi book of them all - top marks! 10
2 1943 Feb. [19] The Weapon Makers Contrary to what is declared on the cover and in the inside introduction to my 1954 edition of this book, it is NOT a follow-up to the better-known The Weapon Shops of Isher, a later fix-up novel first published in 1951 - this earlier version of that same story line was first published in magazine form in 1942-43 and in book form in 1948. It seems to have been written as a follow-up to the 1941 story The Seesaw, as it elaborates in considerable detail the balance-of-power situation described there between the hereditary Isher dynasty that has ruled the solar system for 7000 years (!) and the mysterious Weapon Shops (alternatively called Weapon Makers) organization which provides (purely-defensive) guns to the civilian population via their shops to prevent the regime from toppling over into outright tyranny. Anyway, that is sort of understandable if not particularly acceptable in these enlightened days, but things get decidedly out of hand as the various proponents reveal progressively stranger and more fantastic secret powers that not only verge on the brink of magic and the supernatural (invisibility, mind-transfers, eternal life, instantaneous interstellar travel and more) but become frankly grotesque when alien beings - get this: giant spiders!!! - with their mind-reading, telepathic (in English), mind-switching and instantaneous-stellar-travel capabilities get involved. Conclusion: van Vogt should have stuck to the short-story format here! 6
3 1943 Oct. [20] The Book of Ptath • Two Hundred Million A.D.(1964)
• Ptath (1976)
• 200 Million A.D. (1978)
Way-way-out not to say delirious fantasy (we are in the year 200 Million A.D.!), a genre which vV dropped early on, fortunately. 6
4 1945 Aug. [21] World of Ā • The World of Ā (1948)
• The World of Null-A (1953)
Very original and stimulating, albeit full of twists and turns that are sometimes rather hard to follow, and the lengthy delvings into the fine points of General Semantics are not always as interesting as the author seems to feel they are. Nevertheless, it is one of his best and best-known novels, with Slan and The Voyage of the Space Beagle. 8
5 1948 Oct. [22] The Players of Ā • The Pawns of Null-A (1956)
• The Players of Null-A (1966)
An engrossing sequel to The World of Ā (aka The World of Null-A), less verbose about the theory of Non-Aristotelian thought and more - although perhaps too much more - centered on action, notably scenes involving the brilliant "similarization" process for getting out of a jam by transporting yourself instantaneously to a previously-memorized spot elsewhere. Really excellent for the first half or so although one (like the main protagonist, Gilbert Gosseyn) does tend to become rather confused towards the end. 7
6 1950 The Voyage of the Space Beagle Mission: Interplanetary (1952) yes What can beat this? who can ever forget Coeurl or Itxl and the dramatic way the stories about them begin? van Vogt’s story-telling technique is just so good, and his themes are just so timeless: he is the greatest! This exciting and stimulating novel is based on the stories Black Destroyer (1939), Discord in Scarlet (1939), M33 in Andomeda (1943) and War of Nerves (1950), with considerable linking material integrating these related stories into the central theme of the need for a “Nexialist” (holistic) approach for integrating knowledge from all fields of science including the social sciences (psychology and the history of civilizations in particular) to be able to effectively react to unforeseen and potentially catastrophic new situations and phenomena. 10
7 1950 The House That Stood Still • The Mating Cry (1960)
• The Undercover Aliens (1976)
Full of fifties-era atmosphere, this races along as the narrator tries to save the Earth from the evil plans of some very strange people indeed. 8
8 1950 Jan The Shadow Men We are in 1943 and Lieutenant Morton Cargill is on a binge-leave before heading off to war, when he stumbles into a young woman who is also leaving the dive he has been on-leavng in. The next thing he knows is that he is running away from a car crash which the young lady-acquaintance has not survived, and to escape the resulting police enquiry he runs off to the Normandy beaches and all that. However when he gets back to town in 1946 he is unexpectedly confronted with another young look-alike girl and photos that prove his incommensurable guilt in the tragic death of the first young and very fleeting acquaintance - and mother of a young child. Well, the next thing he and we know is that he has been transported to the late 24th Century where he has been condemned to death for his admittedly unforgivable crime! But he is rescued in the nick of time by a lovely young lady (this story is full of them) who whisks him off into the wilds of the then-strangely-underdeveloped America, when the country has been divided up between three groups (in forties’ terms we would say « classes ») of : (1) a 15-million majority of « floaters » (think of « loafers ») who get around on slow-moving but fun machines invented in the 1980s (!) which enable them to drift off into the sky and to disconnect from strife and stress while scratching out a living by fishing and picking crops here and there and generally leading a carefree life; (2) a 3-million minority of technologically- and educationally-advanced « Tweeners » (think of town-dwellers) who occupy a third of the continent; and (3) a small 100,000-strong minority of very advanced « Shadow Men » possessed of strange powers who are holed up in an impregnable Rocky Mountain stronghold and who control the other two groups through a pervasively-propagandized selection-promotion process. To cut a not-all-that-long story short our guy gets to know the ins and outs of all three groups (and in particular a tough young floater-girl and an ultra-smart-and-not-as-inaccessible-as-she-seemed town-girl), and thanks to his WW2 combat experience gets heavily involved in fomenting revolutions and upheavals in each of these people-categories. I can’t say how it ends but you will not be surprised to learn that he does not end up in the drab old days of 1946.
A sophisticated and quite stimulating exploration of the themes of crime and punishment, of time travel paradoxes, and of probable-or-possible sociological evolutions, that reflects the extremely liberated attitude that characterized the immediate post-war period of the late forties. A real treat!
8
9 1950 April The Wizard of Linn This is the sequel to the saga of the House of Linn recounted in the "Clane" series of stories of 1946-47 (regrouped into the 1957 fix-up novel Empire of the Atom), featuring both the mutant genius Clane and Czinczar, the fearsome and formidable leader of the victorious barbarian invaders from the moons of Jupiter who have conquered Earth, as they travel to the stars and tangle with aliens. They still use swords and bows and arrows though, strangely enough ... 6
10 1951 The Weapon Shops of Isher yes A mysterious weapons shop in 1951 turns out to be an outpost for struggle against a tyrannical far-off future regime. Full of action, significance and striking ideas albeit somewhat confusing at times, this is an interesting but somehow unsatisfactory mix of the disparate stories The Seesaw (1941), The Weapon Shop (1942), and The Weapon Shops of Isher (1949), with a small amount of some new linking material, as follows:
- all of The Seesaw => Prologue + Interlude;
- all of The Weapon Shop => Chapters 1-3, 15-19, 30
- all of The Weapon Shops of Isher => Chapters 4-13, 20-28, 31
- new linking material => Chapters 14, 29.
7
11 1952 The Mixed Men Mission to the Stars (1955) yes The inhabitants of the Fifty Suns nebula in the Greater Magellanic Cloud galaxy are up against a gigantic invading warship from Earth bent on finding them out and integrating them into the Earth empire that rules the Milky Way galaxy. Based on the stories Concealment (1943), The Storm (1943), The Mixed Men (1945) and new linking material later published as Lost: Fifty Suns (1972), this is a wide-ranging and imaginative tale, even though once again (as in the Weapon Shop and Wizard of Linn series of stories, novellas and novels) we have the nowadays-odd vision of hereditary aristocrats running things forever. Very readable nevertheless. 8
12 1953 The Universe Maker yes Featuring a strange secret society and heavy conflict in far-far-off future worlds, this is almost as way-out as The Book of Ptath, although initially set in a contemporary setting. A strange vV reading experience! This is an extensively rewritten and extended version of the novel The Shadow Men (1950). Note that, according to the blurb on the inside, it fictionalizes some of the concepts of Scientology, so be forewarned! 7
13 1954 Planets For Sale [12] yes A sort of far-space-western, where a youngish, handsome, very dynamic and very ruthless wheeler-dealer hero comes up against a series of other brutal, ruthless wheeler-dealer adventurer-businessmen (and a very strange alien with quasi-magical telepathic powers who is almost as smart as he is) in a series of separate episodes on the outskirts of the known galaxies, and manages by wits, force or financial pull to systematically win the day. It would be sort of exciting fun, especially as our hero has an eye for smart and svelte feminine forms, but the western-style roughness is carried more than a bit beyond what we can accept today in the way of borderline behaviour, like when in an early episode he holds up a casino where his enemies have gathered and not only murders their ringleader on the spot, but orders his assistant to execute the rest of them too, which order is promptly carried out.
This novel was ascribed to E. Mayne Hull (only) in the first hardcover edition of 1954 [23], but to both E. Mayne Hull and A. E. van Vogt in all subsequent editions. This may have been for commercial reasons due to van Vogt’s greater notoriety, but also no doubt because van Vogt may well in fact have contributed significantly to "fixing up" the novel from the original stories by E. Mayne Hull on which it was based, as he declared in a 1980 interview.
6
14 1957 Empire of the Atom yes This is a quite straightforward compendium of the "Clane" series of stories recounting the birth and rise to power of the mutant genius Clane, royal son of the Linn dynasty that has been ruling the Earth for 7000 years (!) ever since a mysterious atomic-based catastrophe destroyed the previous atomic-age civilization. It consists of the stories A Son is Born (1946), Child of the Gods (1946), Hand of the Gods (1946), Home of the Gods (1947) and The Barbarian (1947), with some minor cuts and additions and a small amount of new linking material between the last two of these episodes. The previously-published The Emperor of Linn is its sequel. 6
15 1957 The Mind Cage yes A dissident scientist fights against a totalitarian dictator – one of vV’s favourite themes and very readable still fifty-plus years down the track. Based on the story The Great Judge (1948). 8
16 1959 Sept. The War Against the Rull yes Mankind’s bitter and long-lasting struggle against the very advanced and very redoubtable worm-like Rulls for control of the Milky Way galaxy is told in a series of rather disparate but nonetheless engrossing episodes, consisting of the previously-published stories Co-Operate Or Else! (1942), Repetition (1940), The Second Solution (1942), The Green Forest (1949), The Sound (1950) and The Rull (1948) - all considerably modified to provide a more-or-less coherent Rull theme, notably by replacing the Yevds of The Green Forest and The Sound with Rulls - with two new linking chapters. As a novel the fix-up construction is just too loose to be properly satisfying, though: for example the Co-Operate and Second Solution episodes are centered not at all on Rulls, but on another enemy of mankind, the equally-intelligent and almost-likeable ezwals, and neither ezwals nor Rulls appear in the Repetition episode. 7
17 1962 The Violent Man An American citizen working in Hong Kong unwisely decides to travel around (Red) China in the late fifties and is imprisoned as a Yankee spy. However that is not at all as bad as one would think – he is put into an experimental camp with other Westerners where he lives in a hotel, has rather nice food and also and in particular easy access to several highly attractive and not-at-all ferocious young women! He has nothing much to do other than perform the basic functions just referred to and to debate the respective merits and values of the Chinese and American regimes with his captors, which he does endlessly for 300 pages or so. Sort of, but not very, interesting in spite of the passion the author put into his violent anticommunist diatribes. This was van Vogt’s one and only published novel without a science-fiction/fantasy theme. 6.5
18 1963 The Beast Moonbeast (1969) yes People from all ages past and future are time-transported into a primitive cave-prison on the moon run by a fearsome and very clever Neanderthal man. This is a combination of the (very disparate) early stories The Beast (1943), The Great Engine (1943), and a completely rewritten version of The Changeling (1944), with a considerable amount of new linkage material. With lots of action and some very good ideas, it is nevertheless too much of a wild hodge-podge to be considered recommendable. 6
19 1965 Rogue Ship yes A revolt breaks out on the spaceship The Hope of Man after 21 years on its way to colonize the planets around the Alpha Centauri sun, because many of the younger men aboard want to turn back rather than endure the nine more years it will take to get to their destination. Well, that revolt is suppressed but when the ship eventually get there aliens and a big disappointment await them, so after another revolt has been bloodily suppressed they decide to go for a 40-year trip to another sun. More aliens and more problems await them - or rather their descendants - when they do eventually arrive there, so off they go again and arrive finally after a total of 107 years and several generations of leadership changes (all bloody) only to encounter robot-aliens who unwittingly show them how to soup up their atomic motors to lightplus speed, which enables them to whisk back to earth in practically no time (four years), where more (bloody) adventures await them. Based on the stories Centaurus II (1947), Rogue Ship (1950) and The Expendables (1963), this is a sometimes-unpleasant but nonetheless original space opera packed out with interesting ideas. 7
20 1966 March The Winged Man [12] yes The crew of a modern US submarine finds itself suddenly transported 24,999 years into the future where they have been time-transported by one group of engineered mutants (winged men) to blast the stronghold of another group of mutants (big brawny but brainy fish-men) to smithereens with their torpedoes as a condition for getting re-time-transferred back to their own age. The trouble is not only that the Earth by this time has been practically destroyed by chemical experiments (by aliens who were trying out methods for colonizing the earth), but that the bird-guys have also brought back other ships (water water is everywhere) from other ages as well as the aliens who caused the ecological disaster in the first place, all more advanced civilization-wise than our Yankee guys and who are all trying to take over the submarine so as to be able to use its massive firepower to blast the fish-men so that they too can go back home. The original 1944 story on which this novel was based was written by E. Mayne Hull, and it was extended (from 35 to 60 thousand words) by A. E. van Vogt for this "novelized" version. Lot of interesting ideas really (environmental concerns, genetic engineering, language machines, the future developments of science) and smoothly written: most readable indeed. 8
21 1969 The Silkie yes Silkies look like humans but they can travel through space like you and I go for a walk down the road, and they are ultra-intelligent amongst other awesome capabilities. Can man learn to live with them? This rather good novel is made up of the previously-published "Silkie" stories The Silkie (1964), Silkies in Space (1966) and Enemy of the Silkies (1967), with some minor changes and a new Prologue to put things in perspective. 8
22 1970 Children of Tomorrow A space commander returns to earth after a long trip to find that the children have taken over. As you can well imagine, things are far from perfect. 6
23 1970 July Quest For The Future yes This starts off calmly enough in a forties-period lending library, but soon picks up van Vogt speed and time-travels all over the past and future. Some good ideas and no end of action, albeit rather disjointed, natürlich, due to its fix-up origins. Based on the (excellent) early stories The Search (1943), Far Centaurus (1944) and Film Library (1946), with some new material. On the whole quite worthwhile. 7
24 1971 The Battle of Forever We are thousands of years after humanity has perfected itself to such a point that only a thousand genetically-modified more-or-less perfect specimens are left, floating around comfortably in a cozy nutritious environment and looked after by genetically-modified insect slaves, inside an energy-barrier. The outside world now consists of human-like variants of genetically-modified animals who live in big cities outside the barrier and drive fast cars on ribbon-like highways. A man and a woman are however sent outside the barrier, after undergoing a transformation process back to standard-human form, to check out how things are going there. Then (we are on page 7 out of 170) things really start moving, as the guy joins up with a group of friendly passing humanoid animal-men (a bear-man, a fox-man, a jaguar-man and a hippopotamus-man, all English-speaking !) about to embark on a spaceship - with half a million others! - when the real rulers-behind-the-scenes try to prevent our guy (who has amazingly-advanced mental powers as we progressively find out) from messing about with their plans - or rather with the plans of the alien super-beings whom they represent - for dominating the galaxy. Quite overwhelmingly inventive albeit excessively psychological for my taste, this is as wild and far-out as it gets, yet with a real kernel of human (well, humanoid) interest. 7
25 1972 The Darkness on Diamondia Set in the context of an ultra-violent war of mutual extermination on a faraway planet, this wild tale has the reader trying (but usually failing) to follow the various heroes (all rather nasty-minded military men) as they get involved in mind-transfers and "mind-brothering" galore whereby they get mind-transferred into the thoughts of enemies and foes alike, plus the odd ghost or two, sometimes across hundreds of light-years (!?). Distasteful people and a distasteful, viciously-violent and utterly unbelievable story line: this seventies-story is decidedly not an agreeable reading experience. 5
26 1973 Oct. Future Glitter Tyranopolis (1977) The struggle against tyranny by a superiorly-intelligent man with unusual powers, a favourite and most readable vV theme. Its anti-communism (while spot-on, admittedly) has somewhat paled though for us these days (thank goodness), although there is certainly no knocking the anti-totalitarian attitude. But do good politics make good literature? 6
27 1974 The Secret Galactics Earth Factor X (1976) This starts off well but becomes too confused for my taste. Still, the central (and forward-looking) theme of the rising and soon-to-be-dominant role of women on Earth is a juicy one indeed. 6
28 1974 Aug. The Man With a Thousand Names We follow an extremely egotistical, uncouth, spoiled, aggressive, arrogant, insensitive, very macho and also very rich young man who gets constantly switched into bodies of various people whom he has crossed and harmed during his horrible life. What happens to him during these mind-swaps, involving a mysterious very-far-away planet and tons of women just panting to get into bed with him for some odd reason, is supposed to keep us interested for the whole book but after only a few pages in the mind of this despicable person I had to really struggle to get through the whole quite ridiculous plot. I cannot understand how anyone forewarned about what is in store for him/her (no woman could stomach this guy’s creepy mind for more than the first few pages I do believe) would ever want to read this unpleasant book about just about the most unpleasant "hero" in the history of the novel! 2
29 1977 Jan. Supermind yes A group of dreadful Dreegs are lusting for human blood to fuel their takeover ambitions, but the solar system is defended by a pair of Galactic Observers and, when push comes to shove, by a vastly intelligent Greater Galactic who can provide selected humans with - hang on to your hat here - an IQ of 10,000 !! This is really a collation of the two (rather good) previously-published "Dreeg" stories Asylum (1942) and The Proxy Intelligence (1968) with another quite independent tale also featuring galactic observers, Research Alpha (1965), with a few references modified here and there to provide a modicum of linkage between these quite unrelated episodes. The fact that no mention is made of the original stories in the copyright section of any of the editions of this book underlines the purely commercial nature of this enterprise, I dare to suggest. 6
30 1977 April The Anarchistic Colossus A completely anarchistic government-free future society functions more or less successfully under the supervision of millions of ubiquitous inter-linked « Killian » computer outposts, which detect anti-social behaviour and attitudes and emotions instantaneously by analyzing the colours of the energy waves that people inherently emit and then proceeding to take appropriate corrective action, like first a severe warning and then if necessary sending misfits to reeducation camps in Antarctica or elsewhere. Most of the anarchy-loving citizens interestingly enough are right-wing libertarians, although there is a minority of technically-minded leftists too. All would be for the best if aliens weren’t on their way to Earth as part of a sort of galactic game to destroy it utterly as they have already done to countless other planets in the galaxy (remnants of the forties story The Monster here) under the guidance of their - noble of course, this being a van Vogt tale - leader who has already established mind control over the youthful hero of the book, a cocky and immature but tough and smarter-than-he-sounds (he talks American schlock) ex-soldier who has been linked into the Killian computer network for educational reasons, or so it would seem. Through the mind-link of the alien leader into our hero’s consciousness, the aliens see everything that is going on on Earth, and they are convinced that the decentralized and anarchistic Earth society will be a pushover for their takeover and annihilation plans; but there are tensions among the invading game players and libertarian anarchism has more than one ace up its sleeve.
One of the most original and interesting of van Vogt’s later novels, in spite of its bare-boned dialogues and psychological verbosity.
7
31 1979 May Renaissance Cracks suddenly appear in the spectacles of Grayson, a distinguished fiftyish scientist in a leading-edge laboratory, and he then starts noticing previously-unperceived realities such as the svelte forms of the women in the office and the drabness of his own very-unhappily-married existence. We are in an future age totally run by women ever since alien visitors - the Utts - came to earth, declared that men were the root cause of all earth’s problems, that henceforth only women could own property and be in charge of organizations large and small, and that males had to wear Utt-designed glasses at all times and to take appropriate chemical treatment at the age of puberty. With his broken glasses, which he promptly camouflages to avoid detection, our physicist, who has a number of leading-edge inventions of his own to defend himself with, gets heavily involved in an ultra-violent underground men’s liberation movement that has successfully penetrated some of the Utt’s secret infrastructure (notably their vast miles-deep underground prison network), and that wants Grayson to help them with his scientific know-how - or be executed. Thanks to his brains and resourcefulness and inventions and mastery of psycho-hypnotism he manages to survive, and after some astounding encounters with the aliens and their advanced technology (including instantaneous teletransportation anywhere in the galaxy or elsewhere!) manages to arrange a satisfactory arrangement for one and all – even the males!
This interesting exploration of feminist extremism [24] becomes too heavily infused with van Vogt’s pet themes of teletransportation, psychological manipulations and hypnotism to do proper justice to its initial theme of revolution in male-female relationships, but it is nevertheless perfectly readable and even recommendable.
7
32 1979 Aug Cosmic Encounter In 1704 the English nobleman-turned-pirate Nathan Fletcher is en route to a planned assault on a British merchant ship in the Caribbean when his lookout spots a very strange unidentified object falling from the sky on the horizon. This turns out to be a disabled spaceship from the 83rd Century that (after rescuing the noble lady which the very evil Fletcher has captured and thrown overboard for base pecuniary reasons) sends one of theirs, in the form of a 14-year-old-boy, onto the pirate ship with the mission to get their engine repaired back in industrial England. Fletcher is an almost-likeable rebel against the awful Tories back home who have done him out of his heritage, and has gone over to the other side, so to speak, in a big way, although remaining a patriot at heart – which is why he decides to warn the English court (he was a formerly very close to the present Queen of England) of the alarming fact that his ship has also encountered a gigantic flying machine (another spaceship, this time from the 25th Century) that is on its way to menace the world in general and England in particular. The story then veers off into ever wilder domains involving notably universal time-collapse and atoms that remember the Big Bang, but it does eventually get back to Earth and our pirate hero and his lady friend (the one he thought he had killed for a packet of pounds but got rescued at the bottom of the sea by the first lot of aliens – are you following me?) get together fairly satisfactorily at the end. An interesting, rather well-written and most original historico-science-fiction novel [25]. 7
33 1983 Oct. Computerworld Computer Eye (1985) A central computer with unlimited memory runs just about everything (cars, planes, machines, factories) and has eyes everywhere thanks to the vast network of public Eye-O viewers (think of today’s street cameras), music players and diverse household apparatuses that not only see what everyone is doing (think of Orwell’s 1984) but can analyse the the bio-magnetic configuration that makes each individual unique and which – this is where things start going way-out – is manifested in a series of golden balls which continue to exist and to define a person’s essence even after death(!). Well, there is a group of rebels who oppose the computer’s stronghold over society and whose immensely resourceful leader, who actually participated in the original programming of the computer, is trying to recuperate the bio-magnetic power that the computer has been secretly capturing from people and storing up for a future power take-over. A very bitter struggle ensues whereby the computer’s masters, the official corps of computer maintenance personnel, become progressively more and more brutal and power-mad until the computer takes matters into its own hands. Told quite interestingly from the computer’s own point of view, this novel [26] is an ambitious endeavour to come to grips with the computer age, marred however by its staid prose - at least initially, until the computer gets ambitious and starts talking jive - and its neo-religious eccentricities (the scene where the dead rise up from their graves at the end is just too much!). 6
34 1984 April Null-A Three Gilbert Gosseyn, who has the very useful ability to "similarize" (transport) himself to any place that he has previously memorized to 20-decimal exactitude (whatever that is), wakes up in a closed space that turns out to be a space capsule, which is promptly captured by hostile aliens who proceed to vigorously interrogate him as to why their battleship with 178,000 soldiers in it has been in the middle of a battle suddenly and instantaneously transported to this unknown point in space right beside his own capsule. But Gosseyn, as anyone who has read The World of Null-A knows, is a very superior kind of man who also mind-communicate over boundless distances with friends and foe alike and who can also ship himself and others here there and everywhere. For starters, he brings along all of the key personalities of the previous novel in the series, The Pawns of Null-A, plus a fleet of battleships as reinforcement, and he mentally and instantaneously converses with his double Gosseyn 2 (he is Gosseyn 3 - Gosseyn 1 got killed in the first episode) back in the Milky Way galaxy. There’s lots, lots more. So while this is rather fun for the followers of the previous episodes, it can safely be said that it really is too far-out and extravagant for non-Null-A believers [27]. 6
35 1985 April To Conquer Kiber Craig wakes up to find that not only is he suffering from a big hangover (as usual), but that he is deep in an aquarium next to a hungry-looking shark. He manages to survive that encounter, only to discover as well that he has undergone an operation to provide him with fish-like gills, and that he is being taken on a spaceship to a watery planet where he must overthrow the ruling dictator of the underwater kingdom there. And that he, the mildest and most peace-loving of men when sober (albeit one with special psychological powers that he will need to deploy to their utmost) has been chosen for this mission because of his combativeness (which he is, it is true, when drunk, namely most days). Actually less "way-out" than much of his later work, this story is rather well-told on the whole and most readable: it is too bad that this last van Vogt novel has never been published in English, and only in French as A la conquête de Kiber. 7

4. REFERENCES

1. SITES:
- The A. E. van Vogt Summary Bibliography on the International Speculative Fiction Data Base (isfdb) site.
- List of stories by A. E. Van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull on the Roger Russell site.

2. RECENT ANTHOLOGIES
- Transfinite: The Essential A. E. van Vogt, NESFA Press, 2003, 573 pp.
- Futures Past: The Best Short Fiction of A. E. van Vogt, Tachyon Publications, 1999, 203 pp.
- Transgalactic, Baen, 2013, 607 pp.

3. STUDIES
- Alfred E. Van Vogt, Parcours d’une œuvre, by Joseph Altairac, Les Belles Lettres, 2000, 167 pp.
- A.E. van Vogt, Passeur Cosmique, sous la direction de Joseph Altairac, Les Editions de l’oeil du Sphinx, 2010, 336 pp.

Notes

[1updated as follows:
- an entry for van Vogt’s only non-sf/fantasy novel, The Violent Man (1962) has been added (no. 17);
- highlighted links have been integrated into the titles of stories and novels whose texts have been published on this site.

[2Frison is the mother language of the central character of his 1978 story Pendulum.

[3van Vogt declared in an interview that Vault of the Beast had been stimulated by the reading of John Campbell’s story Who Goes There? (the basis for John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing) in the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction, and that there were similarities, so Campbell, the editor of the magazine, wanted a little time to go by between the publication of the two stories about shape-changing creatures.

[4van Vogt later wrote one "mainstream" novel, the very politicalThe Violent Man (1962), over-viewed above.

[5he didn’t like being called Alfred Eton - in the post-face to the 1959 Simon and Schuster hardcover edition of his (marvellous) novel trilogy Triad, the editor wrote: "A. E. van Vogt has a first name, which he dislikes intensely, and which must remain his secret and ours."

[6a story by E. Mayne Hull, The Wishes We Make, can be seen elsewhere on this site.

[7van Vogt was a director of the Dianetics Institute in California during the fifties, but never became a member of Hubbard’s Church of Scientology.

[8a fix-up novel - a term and a technique invented by van Vogt, and quite widely used by others - is a novel consisting of one or more previously-published short stories, eventually with some modifications and/or new linking material. It was used quite extensively by van Vogt (who, unlike many other s-f writers of the forties, had retained the rights to his short stories) for commercial reasons after the appearance of the paperback in the late forties, when the market was booming for novels and had dropped through the bottom for short stories.

[9he dedicated his 1972 novel The Darkness on Diamondia to the author and editor Frederick Pohl as follows: To Fred Pohl who, for better or worse in 1964, when he was editor of Galaxy, Worlds of If and Worlds of Tomorrow, persuaded me to write science fiction again.

[10initially unrecognized by the film’s producers, who eventually paid an irate van Vogt a settlement of $50,000 well after the film had been distributed.

[11only ever published in book form in the (excellent) 1977 anthology Trips in Time, edited by Robert Silverberg (see The Funniest Science-Fiction Story: “MUGWUMP 4”).

[12written in collaboration with E. Mayne Hull.

[13written in collaboration with James H. Schmitz.

[14written in collaboration with Forrest J. Ackerman.

[15written in collaboration with Harlan Ellison.

[16it is perhaps worth mentioning that van Vogt wore glasses all his life, although he had gone to great lengths to try to avoid such a fate.

[17written in collaboration with Brinkie Stevens.

[18first published in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction between September-December 1940. First published in book form in 1946.

[19first published in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction between December 1942-March 1943. First published in book form in 1947.

[20first published in the magazine Unknown Worlds in October 1943. First published in book form in 1947.

[21first published in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction between August-October 1945. First published in book form in 1948.

[22first published in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction between October 1948-January 1949. First published in book form in 1956.

[23the five stories on which the fix-up novel Planets For Sale was based were: Competition (1943), The Debt (1943), The Contract (1944), Enter the Professor (1945) and Bankruptcy Proceedings (1946), all initially published in Astounding Science-Fiction under E. Mayne Hull’s signature.

[24the first five chapters of Renaissance, with a slightly modified ending, were published separately later the same year as a rather effective self-contained story, Femworld.

[25Cosmic Encounter was first published in French, as Rencontre cosmique, in Aug. 1979, well before its initial English-language publication in a hardcover edition (the last van Vogt hardcover publication), in Feb. 1980.

[26Computerworld was first published in a French translation, as La machine ultime, one month before its initial Daw Books publication in English in Nov. 1983.

[27Null-A Three was first published in a French translation, as La fin du Ā, in April 1984, well before its first publication in English in June 1985.