AE Van Vogt

clovis-man

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I've liked most of what I've read of his. But the cobbled together nature of The Weapon Shops Of Isher didn't do much for me. I'm beginning to think that his short stories, in and of themselves, were often his best work. When he tried to expand them, they sometimes lost focus, e.g., "The Great Engine" morphed into The Changeling. I just read "Vault of the Beast" in his short story collection, Away and Beyond. I found it to be absorbing and sharply drawn.

Interestingly, this story was supposedly inspired by John Campbell's Who Goes There? If so, I find myself wondering if, in turn, James Cameron ever read Van Vogt. Some of the scenes in the story could fit wholesale into Terminator II.

Sorry for rambling.
 

Ashley R

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So I've been reading a bit of Van Vogt lately, and I have to say, I'm quite enjoying what I've 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.[snip]

Damon Knight basically shredded Van Vogt in the sixties, quote:

"In a series of reviews for various magazines, he became famous as a science fiction critic, a career which began when he wrote in 1945 that Van Vogt, ...is not a giant as often maintained. He's only a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter. After nine years, he ceased reviewing when a magazine refused to publish one review exactly as he wrote it."

URL: Damon Knight - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Funnily enough I re-read Van Vogt, but can't remember the last time I read Damon Knight.
 

J-Sun

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Funnily enough I re-read Van Vogt, but can't remember the last time I read Damon Knight.

Basically the same - I've been endlessly entertained by dozens of van Vogt books and have read him within the last year and I read a couple of Knight books a decade or more ago that did nothing for me and have never been impressed in my anthology readings. And, in the Irony Department, Knight and van Vogt were awarded the SFWA Grand Master award (later renamed the "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award" because he founded the SFWA) in consecutive years.

I've liked most of what I've read of his. But the cobbled together nature of The Weapon Shops Of Isher didn't do much for me. I'm beginning to think that his short stories, in and of themselves, were often his best work. When he tried to expand them, they sometimes lost focus, e.g., "The Great Engine" morphed into The Changeling. I just read "Vault of the Beast" in his short story collection, Away and Beyond. I found it to be absorbing and sharply drawn.

Agreed. I've said before and will continue to say that I hope someone releases the collected first phase van Vogt fiction in its original magazine form someday. I have almost all of it but not all and it's scattered everywhere and inconvenient to track down. Some of his "fixups" work great but some don't and, either way, there's intrinsic interest to me in the original forms.

Interestingly, this story was supposedly inspired by John Campbell's Who Goes There? If so, I find myself wondering if, in turn, James Cameron ever read Van Vogt. Some of the scenes in the story could fit wholesale into Terminator II.

Yep - I've said before that if Ellison could sue T1 (I mean, Ellison sues everybody, but I mean successfully sue them) and van Vogt was able to sue Alien for "Black Destroyer", I don't know why van Vogt didn't try to sue T2. With the Campbell-to-everyone-including-van-Vogt pipeline, this was Campbell's preferred methodology but Cameron has to be liable to suspicions of plagiarism. But it makes a great movie, anyway. (Similarly, I've never seen it but there seems to be more than a passing similarity between Avatar and "The Word for World Is Forest".)
 

clovis-man

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(Similarly, I've never seen it but there seems to be more than a passing similarity between Avatar and "The Word for World Is Forest".)

I've said before that Avatar is a bald-faced rip-off of Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe".

I promise to get back on topic.
 

MHK99

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I like AE Vogt. I have read his books when I was very young and re-read and re-read many times. I particularly liked his Weapon Shop series. Now I have them on my epub.
 

BAYLOR

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Destination Universe is a terrific anthology of his stories.(y)

Voyage of the Space Beagle one chapter Black Destroyer was one of the inspirations for the movie Alien.(y)
 

BAYLOR

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Ive read Slan . This may be a strange thing to say, but it was bit like reading a Philp K Dick Novel. Storywise it has that kind of weirdness.
 

hitmouse

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I thought Slan was a good but fairly conventional peice of SF pulp.
 

Robert Zwilling

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I like rereading Vogt's books. I think Vogt and Bester were pounding on the same doors. Just reread Universe Maker not so long ago, it was falling apart, glued it back together, I'm that cheap. Some of it was dated. The consequences of drunk driving were apparently no concern of his.

It's the ideas in a book that give me enjoyment, illumination, pause of thought, that's what I read for, not the characters, not the style or whatever grammatical pathway it follows. And if a writer writes Mary lamb a had, then obviously I won't be able to read it. A plot change every 800 words is okay, if it makes the story more interesting for me, I'm for it.

There are many kinds of reading impediments, like everyone I got my own. I'm not educated enough to have my mind stop and auto correct what it spots, because I just can't see it. I unknowingly skim right over it. For a well written story, if there are no great ideas in it for me, and the plot resorts to characters suddenly not paying attention so a slip up that wouldn't have happened happens so the plot can advance, that isn't going to keep my attention. And the personal emotional baggage I can always do without, something that Vogt also managed to do. I feel he did cover global emotional aspects and that's enough for me.
 

BAYLOR

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I don't think A .E. Van Vogt doesn't get the respect he deserves. There is no question he's done some pulpy stories but, he came up with some interesting story concepts and ideas. And quite frankly , he is alot of fun to read ! :cool:(y)
 

KGeo777

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It's interesting to me that A.E. Van Vogt was from Canada. I wonder if Margaret Atwood mentioned him in her book on genre fiction (I would have thought she and fantasy went together like onions and peanut butter but she did write a non-fiction book on the subject). She had a theory that landscape influenced a writer's literary choices so I wonder what she would have said about him. Given his statue in early SF I am surprised (or maybe not surprised) how little he got talked about in Canadian media.
 

The Scribbling Man

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I've procrastinated on Van Vogt due to the terrible things I've heard, but have been a little curious. I also have The World of Null-A (and possibly Slan) on my shelf to read at some stage.
 

Venusian Broon

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I got a whole bunch of AE Van Vogt in the 1990s because 1) there still were a number of second hand book stores that existed near me 2) they were dirt cheap as used paperbacks and I couldn't afford more than a few quid per book as a PhD student :). So I've got Empire of the Atom, The Wizard of Linn, The War against the Rull, The Weapon Shops of Isher, Mission to the Stars (which I believe is the UK title and was called The Mixed Men originally in the US) and some books of his short stories.

And...I can't really remember that much about them. Other than they were okay-ish, a wee bit crazy (more of this vibe on the short story work), and definitely golden age Sci-Fi...so if that's your thing, I think you'll probably like them. Think very early PKD or Asimov's Foundation and his other 50's work, although I think both of these authors are immeasurably better.

From my scattered memories of reading Van Vogt, I wouldn't rate him as a great writer.

So reading them now might be a bit too jarring and dissappointing, unless perhaps, your expectations were at the right level!
 

The Scribbling Man

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I don't mind something being a bit pulpy, providing it has good ideas. If the prose is more amusing/charming than cringe and the premise is interesting enough, I will probably enjoy it on some level. I am definitely more into golden age sci-fi than modern sci-fi.
 

Venusian Broon

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Well, after reading those, I've never felt the urge to read any more Vogt. By comparison I've read every single novel and short story PKD wrote.

However, I think if you approach them open-minded and with a Golden age Sci-fi mindset you will at the very least have fun!
 

The Scribbling Man

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Just took a look at the introduction to my copy of The World of Null-A and apparently it's an edition revised by the author in response to Damon Knight's criticisms. Is this the most common version in circulation? Is it good that I have this version? Is there a preference on version? Any significant differences between the two?
 

hitmouse

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Van Vogt is good fun. I think comparisons with Bester or PKD are interesting. Whilst those two were great stylists, my impression of VV is that he was a straightforward pulp writer whose material just seemed to come out odd.

I would start with Slan, probably his most conventional novel, then move on to Empire of the Atom, the Book of Ptath, and The Weapon Shops of Isher.
 

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