In the s, the Golden Age of science fiction flowered in the magazine Astounding Editor John W Campbell, Jr discovered and promoted great new writers such as AE van Vogt, whose novel Slan was one of the works of the era Slan is the story of Jommy Cross, the orphan mutant outcast from a future society prejudiced against mutants, or slans Throughout the forties and into the fifties, Slan was considered the single most important SF novel, the one great book that everyone had to read Today it remains a monument to pulp SF adventure, filled with constant action and a cornucopia of ideasThis edition has a new introduction by Kevin J Anderson 281218 later addition just read interesting lit crit work on intersections of surrealist and sf work theory mostly in france in early 20th to midcentury, of which van vogt was greatly admired he translates well arguments are from the lit crit art crit world not mine his plots are confused on purpose, plots against baudelairian 19th century realism, plots skeptical of freudian modern mythology, plots linked to the french new novel as well etc not enough on r g and friends for me, b 281218 later addition just read interesting lit crit work on intersections of surrealist and sf work theory mostly in france in early 20th to midcentury, of which van vogt was greatly admired he translates well arguments are from the lit crit art crit world not mine his plots are confused on purpose, plots against baudelairian 19th century realism, plots skeptical of freudian modern mythology, plots linked to the french new novel as well etc not enough on r g and friends for me, but intellectually different way of looking at this work161118 first review i am greatly surprised by how enjoyable this is as sf it might be nothing much but as adventure it reads kind of like script for cable miniseries i have read somewhere that van vogt had this quite deliberate writing idea that something new idea, character, situation must happen every chapter ending on the cliff, works for pulp, works here this is not four star good as much as very good history both of form, expected readers, techno thrillers also explains why his plots veer widely plot accelerates theme kind of dissolves anything but constant i had only read two books by van vogt with decreasing interest and many years ago decades as a kid i read a hall of fame short story weapon shops of do not read this for ideas know what you are reading this is 1940, the peak of pulp, beginning of the golden age exactly the sort of sf say lem hated, no science, no philosophy, not much poetry nothing but adventure fast, short, easy read Three and half stars.Slan is poorly written but I enjoyed the reading well, my reviews are also poorly written As a lot of classics this novel could seem a bit silly to the current reader the female characters, some aspects of the plot, and of course the state of the art of science knowledgeHowever Slan has good ideas, for example when the author imagines a society in which some humans have superpowers telepathy, intelligence, strength, etc but at the same time they must hide and prote Three and half stars.Slan is poorly written but I enjoyed the reading well, my reviews are also poorly written As a lot of classics this novel could seem a bit silly to the current reader the female characters, some aspects of the plot, and of course the state of the art of science knowledgeHowever Slan has good ideas, for example when the author imagines a society in which some humans have superpowers telepathy, intelligence, strength, etc but at the same time they must hide and protect themselves from different superhumans, so I understand that this novel was acclaimed in its time.I suppose that then in 1940 A E van Vogt s novel made a lot of fans the proto geeks if I may say so daydream to be the main character socially maladjusted but in a sense superior, etc I really liked van Vogt when I was younger it s only been a few years since I read The Voyage of the Space Beagle which I gave 3 stars I ve heard this held up to be one of his better books, but never got around to it He writes space opera, which has some almost magical fixing plenty of convenience to the plot, but it s fun This wasn t The biggest problem was that he tried to cover too much territory in too short a time From evolution to revolution, racism, mob psychology, fantastic scie I really liked van Vogt when I was younger it s only been a few years since I read The Voyage of the Space Beagle which I gave 3 stars I ve heard this held up to be one of his better books, but never got around to it He writes space opera, which has some almost magical fixing plenty of convenience to the plot, but it s fun This wasn t The biggest problem was that he tried to cover too much territory in too short a time From evolution to revolution, racism, mob psychology, fantastic science even a love story all wrapped up in a coming of age story It started out pretty well, but there was just so much going on by the end that none of it worked well The great reveals weren t some just sucked Everything else was too convenient magically solved to make the hero out to be wonderful, while much of his reasoning was ridiculous.This was an audio book in 6 files By the end of the third one, I was getting close to my limits Halfway through the 5th, I almost quit Luckily, the 6th was shorter, so I managed to finish it A fewminutes I would have yakked, though In Slan, Van Vogt say vote combines a number of popular sci fi themes, some intriguing, others silly, to create a work that is interesting and influential, if sometimes ill conceived.The political tone of the work, focused on dictators, secret police, and shadowy struggles for power mark this as one of the earlier Dystopian works Slan is a decade before 1984, though Brave New World and It Can t Happen Here are earlier.Van Vogt s Dystopia is muchfantastical than most of the genre, rel In Slan, Van Vogt say vote combines a number of popular sci fi themes, some intriguing, others silly, to create a work that is interesting and influential, if sometimes ill conceived.The political tone of the work, focused on dictators, secret police, and shadowy struggles for power mark this as one of the earlier Dystopian works Slan is a decade before 1984, though Brave New World and It Can t Happen Here are earlier.Van Vogt s Dystopia is muchfantastical than most of the genre, relying heavily on telepathy and Tom Swift gadgeteering The use of super gadgets is so pervasive that there are few situations our protagonist can t get out of with the use of lovingly described technology.There are some twists of the plot that are beyond the powers of his machines, but happily, all of these are solved by coincidence The author has no trouble placing his protagonist in sticky situations, but can t get him out again without contrivance or Clarke Magic Despite being told of our hero s brilliance and will, he remains passive, drifting where the plot carries him.The writing itself is alright, but not impressive Occasionally, Van Vogt tries for a flowery passage, and these do not serve him well Likewise, his technobabble serves only to justify things that we, as sci fi readers, have already taken for granted We understand that his use of Atomic Power allows him to make impenetrable steel, we don t need a speech about super bonding.Van Vogt is lost somewhere between the overt fantasies of pulp sci fi and thereasonable predictions of harder science, like Heinlein s When an author tries to justify a fantasy, all it does is cause the reader to question his own disbelief.This especially evident in Van Vogt s explanation for telepathy, where he drags out that old gernsbackian chestnut about the evolution of the Future Man Van Vogt demonstrates ably that the chief difference between hard and soft sci fi is whether the author has the least grasp of the science he s attempting to predict.The use of evolution as magic plot fixer is always laughable, and it s no wonder the layman has no conception of what the Theory of Evolution actually refers to it has nothing to do with Nietzsche s Superman , and neither does eugenics His use of telepathy also highlights another of Van Vogt s authorial weaknesses We often get long description of how characters feel, of how they are reacting, and of what they are thinking, which is usually a sign that the author feels a need to tell us what he is incapable of demonstrating with plot, character, scene, and dialogue.At first, I thought that it made sense to live in the heads of telepathic characters, and was looking forward to seeing how Van Vogt would use telepathy to give us different insights into the characters and their interactions Unfortunately, he rarely uses it this way Indeed, most of the people have mind shields which prevent the protagonists from having any such insights.What I appreciate about sci fi is the greater scope and variability the author has to explore humanity and possibility When a sci fi author fails to find all the interesting nooks that his alien world suggests, it is all thedisappointing.I can also appreciate sci fi as a pure, tightly plotted adventure, taking science as magic Unfortunately, Van Vogt is stuck between these extremes, neither as psychologically interesting as Huxley nor as imaginative and unpredictable as Burroughs He does a fair enough job holding up both ends at once, but combines not only the strengths but also the weaknesses of both styles He hits a lot of promising points here, and there is something unique about how he hybridizes ideas, but he never takes advantage the possibilities lying everywhere beneath the surface 1.5 to 2.0 stars While certainly an important classic science fiction story and worth while for gaining an understanding of the evolution of the science ficiton novel featuring the superhuman I did not really enjoy the novel I am glad I read it and it was in the neighborhood of okay, but can not recommend it. The golden age of science fiction produced many works that have stood the test of time Fahrenheit 451, I Robot, the Foundation trilogy, Ring Around The Sun, the Lensman series, the Skylark series and many others continue to shape science fiction today and thrill modern readers Unfortunately, some works that were groundbreaking at the time haven t aged as well, Slan being one of them While the concepts are interesting racism, eugenics, evolution, political espionage , the execution fails the The golden age of science fiction produced many works that have stood the test of time Fahrenheit 451, I Robot, the Foundation trilogy, Ring Around The Sun, the Lensman series, the Skylark series and many others continue to shape science fiction today and thrill modern readers Unfortunately, some works that were groundbreaking at the time haven t aged as well, Slan being one of them While the concepts are interesting racism, eugenics, evolution, political espionage , the execution fails the novel completely The plot is simplistic enough, however without developed characters and by jumping time periods too much, the forward momentum is lost With very little action and too many plot holes, Slan becomes a tedious mess, the reader wishing it to end instead of looking forward to the next revelation The dialogue is amateurish at best, new tech introduced conveniently when a significant plot hole occurs, and the missions make no sense in their execution A big question is still unanswered how can fleet of ships be built and take off for the moon and Mars without the government and military noticing At one time a landmark in the genre, Slan, over the course of time, becomes just another throwaway pulp, its conceptscoherently explored in many better novels I ve read lots of classic SF, but now, at last, I ve found the missing link between Isaac Asimov and E.E Smith, the transition stage between thoughtful, character driven science fiction and the Atomic Age of Super Science Van Vogt s prose is just far enough on the clunky side of pulp to make it jarring to modern ears, but the main thing that might hold a modern reader back from this book is that so many of the ideas Vogt introduces have since passed into the realm of cliche If you put the I ve read lots of classic SF, but now, at last, I ve found the missing link between Isaac Asimov and E.E Smith, the transition stage between thoughtful, character driven science fiction and the Atomic Age of Super Science Van Vogt s prose is just far enough on the clunky side of pulp to make it jarring to modern ears, but the main thing that might hold a modern reader back from this book is that so many of the ideas Vogt introduces have since passed into the realm of cliche If you put the book in its historical context, it becomes clear how much of a debt Van Vogt is owed.Super powered mutants fighting to protect a world that hates and fears them Check An oppressive totalitarian government that uses fear to control the populace Check A eugenics program aimed at creating the perfect super being, destined to one day avenge his parents and come into his ultimate power I could go on, and that s without even getting to the underground cities, hypnosis crystals, disintegration rays, conspiracies within conspiracies, and the secret colony on Mars.What I enjoyed most in Slan is that, while there is a clear cut protagonist, the sides of right and wrong are murky and indistinguishable right up to the very end a far cry from the pulp adventures of the Lensmen or John Carter My one complaint is that the hero, Jommy Cross, lacks anything like an equal or counterweight to play against Still, it s a quick, enjoyable, Slam Bang and yet surprisingly thoughtful read Golden Age Science Fiction goodness I can see from other reviews that not everybody enjoyed this, but I really enjoy Van Vogt, his stories tend to twist and turn and venture off into unexpected territory The logical next step is almost never what happens Slan has had a massive influence on the genre, as seen in Marvel Comics X men and the writings of Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Slan actually deals with a rather complicated theme, but in an almost simplistic fashion Golden Age Science Fiction goodness I can see from other reviews that not everybody enjoyed this, but I really enjoy Van Vogt, his stories tend to twist and turn and venture off into unexpected territory The logical next step is almost never what happens Slan has had a massive influence on the genre, as seen in Marvel Comics X men and the writings of Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Slan actually deals with a rather complicated theme, but in an almost simplistic fashion, the quick pace of the novel is testament to this Latter authors, like Dick, instilled a much greater emotional impact into the same kind of thing This, however, is fun Anachronisms Of course I d expect no less of a Science Fiction novel published in the 1940s There is a feverish quality to much of the Van Vogt stuff I ve read, and perhaps that s why he s not everybody s cup of tea Me, I d recommend this any day of the week Some of it appears silly now, but Slan has certainly made its mark This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Unless I m mistaken, I haven t read anything by A.E van Vogt, so this is me rectifying that Reading so called Golden Age is always interesting Some of it holds up to the test of time some of it does not Slan, while it has its moments, falls into the latter camp in my opinion Nevertheless, for contemporary readers, Golden Age SF never fails to provide an invaluable view not of our future but of our own past Slan was first published in 1940, pre dating electronic computers as we know them Unless I m mistaken, I haven t read anything by A.E van Vogt, so this is me rectifying that Reading so called Golden Age is always interesting Some of it holds up to the test of time some of it does not Slan, while it has its moments, falls into the latter camp in my opinion Nevertheless, for contemporary readers, Golden Age SF never fails to provide an invaluable view not of our future but of our own past Slan was first published in 1940, pre dating electronic computers as we know them and so many other technologies we now take for granted as the backdrop to our science fiction Its chief novum is atomic energy, and even so this story predates the first atomic bombs and nuclear reactors For van Vogt, what he was writing was cutting edge, even if it seems to us somewhat laughably naive And the ways in which he envisions this technology and others being used tells us so much about the way we saw science and technology in this era.Slan is set in our future The world is ruled by an authoritarian but not particularly oppressive if you re human regime headed up by Kier Gray The slans are an offshoot of humanity, mutants with tendrils on their heads that allow them to read minds As such, so the propaganda goes, they see themselves as superior to humans Centuries prior to the story, there was a war between slans and humans Humans barely prevailed, leading to a dark age, and now slans are hunted and killed wherever they have found Our slan protagonist, Jommy Cross, watches his own mother hunted down in the middle of a busy city street when he is only nine years old He narrowly escapes with his own life and spends his early adolescence educating himself and mastering his thought powers so that he can carry on the legacy of his parents for, you see, his father invented an ingenious way to use atomic energy to disintegrate matter But there are other powers out there, powers who are suspicious of Cross, and they might make a move first.Some of the blurbs on this book praise van Vogt for Slan s headlong, breakneck pacing and electric, crackling paranoid tension and I guess I kind of see it I mean, the story does open with fugitives on the run and this particular set piece gets a reprise several times throughout this fairly short novel There are definitely instances where almost all seems lost, as Cross plans are foiled and he has to think quickly to regain the upper hand Yet there are also moments where the tension seems to fizzle out, or where it never existed in the first place Slan is, in many ways, a psychological thriller, yet some of its characters psychology is incredibly flimsy.Perhaps not surprising considering its age, Slan has a dearth of good female characters Van Vogt sets up Kathleen Layton as a secondary protagonist very early in the story, then pages after she finally crosses paths with Cross, he fridges her I know she comes back at the very end hello, cliffhanger but that s irrelevant It s a shock and awe tactic that leaves much to be desired Granny is helpful I guess, but the extent to which she is willingly helping Cross and how much is the result of his mental meddlingon that in a moment is an open question That leaves Joanna Hillory Although in her first appearance she proves a fine match as antagonist to Cross, when she reappears towards the end, it s to suddenly turn face and tell Cross that she despite the gross age difference is the only logical choice of intimate companion for him Um OK So he sends her off to retrieve his magic spaceship while he returns to Earth, and we basically don t hear from her again.Don t even get me started on the random council member who decides he wants to fuck teenage Kathleen so badly that he proposes using her for a human slan breeding experiment.Anyway, my issues with this book s portrayal of women and with its characterization in general are actually wrapped up entirely in the plot I wonder how much of this comes from Slan s origin as a serial, and the way in which writing serial fiction sometimes leads to repetition and inconsistencies though there s no reason those couldn t be corrected when it was finally published in novel form But basically, the plot is a hot mess It s kind of your basic revenge plot, except Cross is also trying to protect the slans from genocide, except it also turns out the slans are secretly in control of everything anyway, except when they re not And most of the book is basically Cross building himself a really cool secret hideout with atomic technology, then posing as someone who looks like him so he can get himself caught It s dull.Cross himself is not a great or sympathetic protagonist Indeed, I m not sure I m on board with Team Slan here Don t get me wrong I don t advocate genocide or oppression of the slans But if you re claiming you want to coexist in harmony and then go around hypnotizing and mind controlling people with crystals well, yours is not a moral ground I want to stand on, because it s liable to collapse at any moment And keep in mind this is a dude who has access to atomic disintegration technology.If it sounds like I m hating on this book, then I apologize, because that really isn t my intention I m just trying to catalogue its various flaws and critique the elements I find particularly unsatisfactory Because there are many intriguing elements to this story Aside from van Vogt s use of the then nascent prospects of atomic power, this is an early story to feature the spectre of genetic engineering on a mass scale I can only imagine that the origin story of the slans has some inspiration in the eugenics movement that was mixed up in the fascism and Nazism of the day The central what if here, what if a strain of humanity involves that truly does have superior capabilities in some fashion is as pressing and interesting now as it was in 1940.Indeed, I think it s somewhat silly that so much Golden Age SF, from van Vogt to Asimov to Heinlein, is social soft SF, yet somehow that only becomes a problem when women start writing it So many of these famous male authors are ultimately writing stories about the future psychology of humanity, not our technological tribulations Slan reminded meof something from Nancy Kress than, say, Arthur C Clarke And that isn t a bad thing I just wish we would stop pretending that women writing SF is somehow problematic because of all the icky feels they supposedly mix in with the technology Slan is muchabout society than it is about science Science fiction has always been socially conscious.I m glad this was as short as it is, because I don t think I could have enjoyed 400 pages of this At its present length, Slan is an adequate diversion I wouldn t say it s a great novel, and I have zero desire to read the sequel finished by Kevin J Anderson though that hasto do with my opinion of Anderson, I d wager If, like me, you re interested in delvingdeeply into the back catalog of Golden Age SF, then sure, this is a novel you might want to check out For the neophytes or the readers withparticular tastes, I d say there is little here The themes van Vogt explores crop up, and are dealt with much better, in later works This is a wonderful piece of history but not a compelling vision of our future