AE Van Vogt

tylenol4000

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So I'v been reading a bit of Van Vogt lately, and I have to say, I'm quite enjoying what I'v read, Future Glitter was a really enjoyable dystopia. Slan, well, I think it goes without saying that it's an unrelenting thriller. Yes, I just said that.

I feel he doesn't get as much respect as he should. It's true what they say: he was Philip K. Dick before Philip K. Dick. A lot of his prose actually sounds like PKD. I'm disappointed that, while Dick is getting a whole new following and will be in print for many years to come, people are missing out on the works of an author that greatly influenced him; I feel like PKDs following could, possibly, lead to a new life for Van Vogt's works. But he's gone forgotten for a long time. I saw an article on io9 about authors that could be Hollywoods next PKD. They listed authors like Stross, and Rudy Rucker, whom I think would be great choices (especially Rucker, hollywood needs to focus on his stories). Anyways, io9 failed to recognize AE Van Vogt. That's crazy. He's the first guy I thought of when i saw the article. So many short stories, so many novels; so many potential crazy films.

Anyways, what I'm really here to say is that I think the criticism of Van Vogt is unfair. I keep reading about his lousy prose, an criticisms of how he wrote his novels. Similar criticisms that Dick gets, actually. But the fact is, he tells a good story, with ideas most people could never think of. People need to take another look at AE Van Vogt.
 

Fried Egg

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If Phillip K. Dick had got stuck in the 50's and never progressed beyond that they would probably have shared a similar stature and regard in the SF community (and beyond) but, from what I've read, Van Vogt didn't make the progression that Dick made in the sixties and seventies and produce all those great (and often profound) works.

I want to read some more of Van Vogt's work but I haven't read anything for a few years after being thoroughly disappointed by the much lorded "The Weapon Shops Of Isher".
 

Fried Egg

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Yes, "Voyage Of The Space Beagle" is my favourite novel of his so far...
 

dask

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Voyage Of The Space Beagle is great fun.

I read somewhere (Dave Langford?) that Van Vogt did some kind of dramatic plot change every 800 words. Don't know if that's true or not...

Heard that too, or something similar like writing in 800 word "blocks", if that's the right word.
Read a story recently that was later worked into THE MIXED MEN. Thought that was pretty good.
 

tylenol4000

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I can't say much about AE Van Vogt's progression as a writer, because I'v only read three of his novels. I'v read Slan and absolutely loved it. Really, it's quite a book, his first I believe. My attention never wavered at all. Recently I finished his novel Future Glitter (aka Tyranopolis), which came out in 1973. I noticed a slight difference in his writing. For some reason I couldn't really see him writing it when he was younger. But of course, it's only one book. I have MANY more van Vogt books to find and read.

I'v read some of his short stories, and found them to be quite good. He has great ideas, and a simple prose style that makes his writing easier to read, and his crazy concepts easier to understand (again, similar to PKD). I hate when people criticize Dick's prose. There's nothing wrong with it. IMO, his style makes him more accessible, unlike, say, Zelazny, who I often found hard to read because he focuses too much on stylish prose. (btw, does anyone else find Zelazny to be dull? I love Lord of Light actually, but everything else i'v tried, like Roadmarks, i found quite dull).....I'v gone off topic...

I know PKDs books are all in print, and even newer editions currently being released by Mariner (the cover designs are great; very respectable, and "literary" ;) Why not AE van Vogt?!? He deserves the same treatment! It's sad, because someday authors like him will be absolutely impossible to find; it's already hard enough. Those old, worn out, vintage paperbacks found in used book stores will only wear out even more. Sad.
 

Pratfall II

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I am getting into van vogt right now as i am a huge admirer of pkd. there is a strong resemblance in their styles to be sure. so far i've read the violent man and the battle of forever. i have read in interviews that van vogt's style was to introduce a new plot element every 800 words. he would also set his alarm at strange times to wake him up in the night and write down story ideas derived from remembered dreams.
 

tylenol4000

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Violent Man? That`s cool. My copy of his book Future Glitter has an introduction where he talks about the Violent Man. Apparently it's not a sci-fi? And i guess it was sort of a precursor to Future Glitter.

And just yesterday i found a copy of Voyage of the Space Beagle in a used book store. I'v been looking and wanting to read this for a long time. Now I can see for myself whether Dan O'Bannon ripped it off for Alien. I don't care if he did, cuz Alien is awesome.
 

AndrewT

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I heard "The World of A" was the one I should sample if I just had time for one.
 

Ogma

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I heard "The World of A" was the one I should sample if I just had time for one.

I read the World of Null-A recently. Its similarity to early PKD was striking - the atmosphere, even the characters. I really enjoyed it. I must add some of the other recommendations here to my TBR pile.
 

Keri Ford

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I had a period a couple of years ago of reading through his books, I really like him. I think one of the reasons why is that he was an early Sci Fi writer who thought the really interesting thing about the future would be how human beings change. Have different thought structures, he seemed excited by the possibilities of what people could be.

I don't think he developed significantly, but while I think PK Dick has a greater repututation, Vogt is more optimistic and lacks the nightmarish sense of inertia that is in Dick.

Vogt was also one of the first Sci Fi authors i ever read so that had an impact.

My Favourites
The Null A books
Slan
The Book of Ptath

But I read lots of others & enjoyed them too.
 

hitmouse

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Book of Ptath is excellent. Very peculiar and striking. Not mentioned much compared to his other works.
 

JunkMonkey

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Anyways, what I'm really here to say is that I think the criticism of Van Vogt is unfair. I keep reading about his lousy prose, an criticisms of how he wrote his novels. Similar criticisms that Dick gets, actually. But the fact is, he tells a good story, with ideas most people could never think of. People need to take another look at AE Van Vogt.

I love A E van Vogt's books. I am a great fan. Over the last couple of years I think I've read more books by him than any other author:

More Than Superhuman, The Silkie, The Weapon Shops of Isher, The Weapon Makers, Destination Universe!, The Book of Ptath, Planets for Sale, The Beast, The Man With a Thousand Faces, The Universe Maker, Masters of Time, The Battle of Forever, and Slan.

Yes, his books are rollicking page-turning yarns, full of more ideas per page than the average - but there is no way you can describe him as anything other than a dreadful stylist. His prose is awful.

For me it's the awfulness of his writing that makes him so fascinating:
Here's a few choice examples from Masters of Time:

(apologies if I have posted these here before this is a cut and paste from my reading diary.)


From Dr. Lell came a barked command, only twisted foreignish words that nevertheless sounded like:"Grab him!"

The man paused. His brown eyes darkened in a frown, then he smiled with equally amazing grimness.

They swaggered, did these boys. When they stood, they leaned with casual grace, thumbs nonchalantly tucked into belts or into the armpits of strangely designed vests. Not more than half a dozen of that bold vigorous-looking crew seemed to be the studious type. Here were men of the past, adventurers, soldiers of fortune, who had mutinied as easily as, under slightly different circumstances, they might have decided to fight for, instead of against, their captors.

and probably the best description of an approach to a new world I have ever read

He stood finally at the wall visiplate, staring out at the burnished immensity of Venus. The planet, already vast, was expanding visibly, like a balloon being blown up. Only it didn't stop expanding, and, unlike an overgrown balloon, it didn't burst.
 

J Riff

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Wow, burnished immensity! AE was always a well-respected SF writer, I never thought to compare him to KDick, the 60s allowed for all kinds of stuff, but AEV was just great adventure, read most of them between ages 10-14 and they were terrific.
Burnished immensity.

Literati? Steven, stay away from those people. What are they doing, hanging around SF writers again, trying to nick some ideas?? ))
 

JunkMonkey

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Wow, burnished immensity! AE was always a well-respected SF writer, I never thought to compare him to KDick, the 60s allowed for all kinds of stuff, but AEV was just great adventure, read most of them between ages 10-14 and they were terrific.
Burnished immensity.

Literati? Steven, stay away from those people. What are they doing, hanging around SF writers again, trying to nick some ideas?? ))


I think I'm right in saying PKD was a self-confessed fan of Vogt's. Another disciple was Charles L Harness, his Ring of Ritonell is very Vogty.

I like Vogt's books they have a weird, unsettling affect. Stuffed full of dream logic and WTF?ery.
 

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