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A. E. Van Vogt

Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy

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Alfred Elton Van Vogt
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Author Information and Bibliography:
A.E Van Vogt is one of the classic names in science fiction and one of the genre's most widely read authors. He was born in Canada in 1912, the son of Dutch parents and made his initial impact with short stories for Astounding Science Fiction, such as 'Black Destroyer', which was published in 1939 and later formed a chapter in his classic 'The Voyage of the Space Beagle'. He moved to the States, where he wrote his first novel, Slan, in the 1940s. That was quickly accepted as a staple in any worthwhile SF diet and van Vogt has gone on to write a string of successful books

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Titles to Look Out For:
1945. The World of Null-A
1948. The Pawns of Null-A, a.k.a The Players of Null-A
1959. The Voyage of the Space Beagle
1965. Monsters
1965. Rogue Ship
1977. Supermind
1977. The Anarchistic Colossus
1983. Computerworld

1984. Null-A Three

Van Vogt, A. E. 'The World of Null-A'. Sphere Science Fiction, 1976, 224 pages. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon
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  • The World of Null-A [top]
    The World of Null-A appeared originally as a 1945 serial in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, which was edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.
    It was the first hardcover sci-fi novel published by a major publisher after WWII (Simon & Schuster, 1948)
    It won the Manuscripters Club award and was listed by the New York area library association among the hundred best novels of 1948.
    Jacques Sadoul in France, editor of Editions OPTA, has stated that World of Null-A, when first published, all by itself created the French science fiction market.
    The 1st Edition sold over 25,000 copies in France. Jacques Sadoul continued to say (in 1969) that A.E Van Vogt was still the most popular writer in terms of copies sold. Its publication stimulated interest in General Semantics, such that it later became a generally taught subject in hundreds of universities.
    It has been translated into at least 9 languages.
    Van Vogt revised and shortened the tale for the 1948 novel release by Simon and Schuster. In 1970, van Vogt revised it yet again (though only slightly this time), and added an Author's Introduction in which he both defended the controversial work, and admitted that the original had been flawed.
    The World of Null-A is followed by the sequels, The Pawns of Null-A (also known as The Players of Null-A) (1956) and Null-A Three (1984)

Storyline: It tells the story of Gilbert Gosseyn, a man living in an apparent utopia in which those with superior understanding and mental control rule the rest of humanity. But when Gosseyn wants to be tested by the giant Machine that determines such superiority, he finds that his world is not as it appears.

[From the 1976 Sphere Science Fiction pbk reprint] 'Who was Gosseyn? Gosseyn himself didn't know his own identity-only that he could be killed, yet live again...But someone knew who Gosseyn was-and was using him as a pawn in a deadly game that spanned the Galaxy!
'

Van Vogt, A.E. 'The Pawns of Null-A', published by Sphere Science Fiction in 1976, paperback reprint, ISBN 0722187475, 224pp. Good condition, with a couple of creases to the front cover corner & some light tanning to internal pages (browning effect from ageing). Price: £1.95, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard price (currently £2.80 for UK customers & more for overseas buyers)
1976, Sphere
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  • The Pawns of Null-A, a.k.a The Players of Null-A [top]
    The Players of Null-A is a 1956 science fiction novel by A. E. van Vogt originally published as a two-part serial in Astounding Stories in December of 1948 and January of 1949 (this leads to the mistaken idea that the book was published in 1948 due to the copyright notice). It incorporates concepts from the General Semantics of Alfred Korzybski and refers to non-Aristotelian logic. It was published in the US under the name The Pawns of Null-A.
    Players was published in the October, November and December of 1948, and January 1949, issues of Astounding Stories; and it had summaries of the earlier instalments, beginning in the November issue.

Story: The book opens with the introduction of a sinister new character, a shadowy being, called the Follower. What was the Follower? Gosseyn knew the creature threatened to destroy the whole solar system, but not even his Null-A trained brain could thwart the Follower's plans! Presently a strange history of human beings in our Milky Way galaxy emerges, and how they (we) got here:

Two million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the human race there discovers that a vast, deadly cloud of gas is enveloping all its planets. Not everybody can escape, but tens of thousands of small spaceships are sent out, with potential survivors aboard each little craft in a state of suspended animation. After the million-plus year voyage, the little ships reach our Milky Way galaxy, and begin to land at random on habitable planets thousands of light-years apart.

Gilbert Gosseyn, a clone descendant of one of the survivors has finally (in The World of Null-A) discovered the clues to his origin and his special abilities. Here on Earth in 2560 A.D he has received Null-A training, and is accordingly entitled to live on Null-A Venus. He is, at first, unaware that, as a result of his newly discovered self-knowledge, he has become the target of the machinations of the Follower, a shadow-like being who comes to Earth froma far-distant star system of the Greatest Empire- a vast interstellar civilisation. The Follower's purpose is to stop Gosseyn from leaving the Solar System. Which means he wants to stop him, first of all, from going to Venus, where there is a hidden-hidden underground-interstellar space-time distorter system for transmitting huge spaceships across light-years of distance instantaneously. Players ends with the destruction of the Follower.



Van Vogt, A. E. 'The Voyage of the Space Beagle', pbk, published by Panther Science Fiction in 1975 (reprint), 192 pages, ISBN 0586024395. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access pre-built search for this title on Amazon UK
Sphere. 1975 reprint
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  • The Voyage of the Space Beagle [top]
    Published 1959
    The first third of this novel, BLACK DESTROYER, appeared in the 7/39 ASTOUNDING as Van Vogt's first science fiction story and was supposed to be the inspiration for 1957's film, IT! THE TERROR FROM OUT OF SPACE, which in turn inspired 1979's ALIEN film.
    This novel is a collection of four novellas that were originally published independently in various pulp magazines from the 30's to the 50's.

Story: [From 1975 Sphere pbk reprint]: INTERGALACTIC QUEST. Into the awesome depths of intergalactic space hurtled the Space Beagle, travelling on Man's most ambitious expedition to the far reaches of the Universe. From galaxy to galaxy, the crew explored the remains of past races and civilisations on desolate planets and found weird life-forms floating in space itself. But the explorers not only had to contend with danger from the outside: within their own ship they carried one of the deadliest creatures in all creation...

This book contains four tales about the adventures of the crew of a star ship named the Space Beagle that travels to the far reaches of our galaxy and beyond. The ship is filled with a wide range of scientist from every major discipline (physicists, astronomers, geologists, chemists, biologists, etc.) as well as soldiers. The main character, Elliot Grosvenor, represents a new science/philosophy of Nexialism. This is a discipline that supposedly brings together all other disciplines but additionally provides a mechanism for viewing the totality of problems.
In each of the stories the ship is assailed by some alien menace that must be defeated. In all cases the threats initially appeared overwhelming, but were then defeated relatively simply. The internal political dynamics of the ship are a primary focus in the stories alongside the manoeuverings of individuals and factions. There are many details of the movie `Alien' that are taken directly from one of the novellas in this series.

Van Vogt, A.E. 'Monsters', a collection of short stories published by Corgi in 1977, paperback, 192pp. Very good condition, clean copy. Price: £5.00 (not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge, currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas buyers).
Corgi, 1977 reissue
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  • Monsters [top]
    1970. Corgi paperback edition published
    1977. Corgi paperback edition reissued
Contents: 8 tales of hideous things-writhing, crawling, scaled or slimy, they represent some of A.E. Van Vogt's most outstanding feats of imagination.
1) Not Only Dead Men
2) Final Command
3) War of Nerves
4) Enchanted Village
5) Concealment
6) The Sea Thing
7) Resurrection
8) Vault of the Beast
 
Van Vogt, A. E. 'Rogue Ship', published in 1980 in Great Britain by Granada Publishing Limited in Panther Books, 205pp, ISBN 0586042830. Condition: Fair - the binding has split at pages 108-109 and is held together by the cover. The internal pages are tanned with age and the spine is creased and the surface is peeling away at the base of the spine. Still a decent reading copy. Price: 1 pence, not including post and packing, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1980, Panther Books, pbk
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  • Rogue Ship [top]
    First published in 1965 in the United States by Doubleday, in hardback with dustjacket, 213pp
    First published in 1967 in Great Britain by Dennis Dobson in hardback with dustjacket, 213pp
    Published in 1975 in Great Britain by Granada Publishing Limited in Panther Books
    Reprinted in 1978 in Great Britain by Granada Publishing Limited in Panther Books
    Reprinted in 1980 in Great Britain by Granada Publishing Limited in Panther Books, 205pp, ISBN 0586042830

About this book/storyline: A mighty space cruiser coasts through the dreadful emptiness of space on its voyage of human survival. Multimillionaire Averill Hewitt built her, crewed her with handpicked men and women, and had her launched on a one-way trip to the planets clustered around Centaurus. But he had not counted on radical changes developing in the social hierarchy on board-on mutiny and revolution, on space madness-nor on the astounding scientific advances made in that awful isolation...

 
Van Vogt, A.E. 'Supermind', published by New English Library, 1977, pbk, 176pp, ISBN 0450037126.
NEL, 1979
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  • Supermind [top]
    First published in 1977 in the USA by Daw Books
    First published in 1978 in Great Britain by Sidgwick & Jackson
    First published in 1979 in New English Library paperbacks

Story: Earth Was in Danger, its population threatened by the nomadic space-travellers, the Dreeghs. For Earth's inhabitants could provide the Dreeghs with blood, the essence of 'life' imperative for their survival. It was the beginning of a struggle, a conflict that was to be decided not by force of arms but by intelligence, by the supermind. But how far can the mind go? Research Alpha had to find out. If the evolutionary process could be speeded up so that a few million year's development could take place within a few days, could Point Omega be reached, the point of supreme intelligence, where man is at one with totality?

 

Van Vogt, A.E. 'The Anarchistic Colossus', published by The Science Fiction Book Club (Readers Union) in 1977, hardcover with dustjacket, 248pp. Price: £1.90, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers & more for overseas customers)
1977, The Science Fiction Book Club, hbk
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Story: The Anarchistic Colossus takes place in a future Earth where anarchy has become a way of life-it is, however, a very special brand of anarchy, one that is controlled by the mysterious Kirlian computers. It is also one that must deal with a race of aliens who look upon the conquest of Earth as part of a very entertaining game.

Van Vogt, A.E. 'Computerworld', published by Sphere Science Fiction (New English Library) in 1986, paperback, 208pp, ISBN 0450059049. Price: £3.55, not including p&p (which is Amazon's standard p&p, currently £2.75 for UK buyers and more for overseas customers).
NEL, 1986, pbk
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  • Computerworld [top]
    First published 1983 in the US by Daw Books
    Published in 1986 in the UK as a paperback by New English Library

Storyline: The computer controlled them all. Bio-magnetic recognition was infallible, instant. Its eyes were everywhere-in the street, in the home. There was no escape as it scanned, recorded, knew. An armed Computer Maintenance Corps handled social control. The military-style personnel thought the computer was God. But the computer stole. Energy. With every personal scan, every casual recognition check, there went a small but significant subject-to-computer mental energy transfer. Only the Computer Rebel Society saw the threat and had the will to organise against it

The computer introduces the book: '...For me a projection involves the two perceptions of sound and sight. I draw upon picture and sonic images in my memory circuits. Since I have read and summarized every book in print during my time, seen and summarized all motion pictures, recorded and summarized and cross-filed lectures, conversations between individuals, and been separately programmed to evaluate all formal human philosophies...Dr Pierce's request evokes a process of options, each of which I produce for myself in the form of images on a screen. It's as if I'm actually looking at different future each time. And, since I have no bias, no preconception, the decision as to which is the most likely to happen is something I observe in a mechanically detached way... .

Van Vogt, A. E. 'Null-A Three', pbk, published in 1985 by Sphere Science Fiction, 218pp. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK
1985, Sphere Science Fiction, pbk
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  • Null-A Three [top]
    Published 1984.
    Frederick Pohl, when editor of the Galaxy magazine, was the first person to ask A.E Van Vogt to write a Null-A sequel.
    Jacques Sadoul, editor of J'ai Lu the publishing company in France several times urged A.E Van Vogt to write a sequel. He subsequently urged van Vogt's wife to persuade him to write it. This strategy worked and the book was written!

Story: Worlds in Crisis. Whoever it was that the Dzan had discovered in a space capsule floating perilously close to their battle fleet, it was certainly no ordinary mortal. It wasn't just that this Gosseyn-as he called himself-had apparently come from another galaxy. Nor that he'd been awoken from an ages-long state of suspended animation by their sudden intervention. What troubled the Dzan most was that Gosseyn was-by his own admission-the reincarnation of another human being, one who not only seemed to share the same brain as Gosseyn, but was clearly still very much alive. Once they'd accepted the existence of Gosseyn and his alter ego, they realised that here somehow might be the weapon they needed in their struggle with the alien Troogs-or the cause of their own imminent destruction

 



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