Monday, March 16, 2015

A. E. Van Vogt

Alfred Elton van Vogt was born in Manitoba, Canada, on 26 April 1912, and educated at various schools in Winnipeg and Morden, graduating to the University of Ottawa in 1928. His first story sales were to True Story confession magazines in the early 1930s whilst working as a census clerk and representative of Maclean Trade Papers. It was here that van Vogt honed a unique style, based on his reading of John W. Gallishaw’s The Only Two Ways to Write a Short Story: each scene was built up on a five-step programme into a series of roughly 800 word blocks which established background, character and purpose and drove the story forward with dialogue, conflict and the introduction of sub-plots; to complicate things further, each of the 90 or so sentences in each block was a “fictional sentence” involving an emotion when writing for women’s magazines or, in his science fiction, what van Vogt called “a hang-up” - some piece of missing information which the reader’s imagination had to supply. A later system he developed was to solve any story problems by forcing himself to wake up every hour and a half to think about a solution; his subconscious would often have the problem resolved by morning.

Tiring of confessions and after a period of writing plays for Canadian radio, he rediscovered his early love of science fiction pulps, and began submitting stories and serials to Astounding Science Fiction in 1939. Of his 38 novels, his earliest are still regarded as classics: his first novel, Slan, dealt with a persecuted race of human-bred mutants and the attempts of Jommy Cross, learning to cope with his powers as he grows from adolescence to manhood, to bring peace between ‘normals’ and their physical and mental superiors; The Weapon Shops of Isher at its simplest level mixes future politics, immortality and galactic scale space opera; The World of Null-A and its sequel The Pawns of Null-A introduced Alfred Kotzybski’s General Semantics - a system through which the higher levels of the mind could be accessed via non-Aristotelian (or null-A) teaching - into a galaxy-spanning political intrigue whose hero - Gosseyn (go sane) - switches from one doppelganger body to another; the four stories that made up The Voyage of the Space Beagle revolved around ‘nexialist’ scientist Elliot Grosvenor and how he and the crew of an intergalactic spacecraft cope with a variety of alien attackers, one sequence a remarkable foreshadow of the Alien movie produced thirty-six years later.

The World of Null-A was published in book form in 1948, the first SF magazine serial to appear in hardcover from a major publisher (earlier titles had appeared from specialist houses); in France, it was translated by surrealist Boris Vian and created a market for science fiction. However, van Vogt’s interest in disciplines that would focus latent talent led him to Dianetics, the memory auditing system developed by fellow SF writer L. Ron Hubbard which became the cornerstone of Scientology. Although not interested in the mystical/religious aspects of Scientology, van Vogt maintained the Los Angeles Hubbard Dianetic Centre from 1950 until 1961, part financed by gathering together and reworking earlier stories into novels.

During this time he also worked on his only non-SF novel, The Violent Man, about Red China, which was finally published in 1962. At the invitation of editor Frederick Pohl, he returned to science fiction, producing a string of well-received stories for the magazine If. However, whilst some novels, notably The Silkie and The Battle of Forever, were well-paced and well-written, van Vogt’s fiction over the next two decades rarely achieved the fan or critical acclaim his earlier work had earned. Some of his later novels appeared only in France where he was championed by Jacques Sadoul, the editor at J’ai Lu, although many of his earlier novels remain in print.

In later years van Vogt suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease; he died from complications arising from pneumonia on 26 January 2000. He was married twice: in 1938 to the writer E. Mayne Hull (died 1975) and in 1979 to Lydia I. Brayman.


Slan. Sauk City, Wisconsin, Arkham House, 1946; revised, New York, Simon & Schuster, 1951; London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Jun 1953.
The Weapon Makers. Providence, Rhode Island, Hadley, 1946; revised, New York, Greenberg, 1952; London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Jan 1954; as One Against Eternity (with The Other Side of Here by Murray Leinster), New York, Ace D-94, Feb 1955.
The Book of Ptath. Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1947; London, Panther 02753- X, Apr 1969 (previously in A Van Vogt Omnibus, London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1967; as Two Hundred Million A.D., New York, Paperback Library 52-304, Jul 1964; as Ptath, New York, Zebra Books, 1976.
The World of A. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1948; with introduction by Groff Conklin, New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1950; as The World of Null-A, London, Dobson, Jan 1970; as The World of Null-A (with The Universe Maker), New York, Ace D-31, Oct 1953; with author’s introduction, New York, Berkley S-1802, Feb 1970; London, Sphere 87637, Jul 1971; with introduction by David Wingrove, London, J. Goodchild, Apr 1984; with introduction by James E. Gunn, Easton Press, Oct 1988.
Masters of Time (contains Masters of Time and The Changeling). Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1950; published separately as Earth’s Last Fortress (with Lost in Space by George O. Smith), New York, Ace D-431, Apr 1960; The Changeling published separately, New York, Macfadden 50-335, Feb 1967.
The House That Stood Still. New York, Greenberg, 1950; London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Jan 1953; revised (anonymously by H. L. Gold) as The Mating Cry, New York, Beacon #298, Sep 1960; as The Undercover Aliens, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, Panther 04324-1, Jun 1976.
The Voyage of the Space Beagle. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1950; London, Grayson & Grayson, Jun 1951; as Mission Interplanetary, New York, Signet #914, Jan 1952.
The Weapon Shops of Isher. New York, Greenberg, 1951; London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Sep 1952; (with Gateway to Elsewhere by Murray Leinster), Ace D-53, Apr 1954.
The Mixed Men. New York, Gnome Press, 1952; as Mission to the Stars, New York, Berkley #344, Dec 1955; London, Digit D343, Mar 1960.
The Universe Maker (with The World of Null-A). New York, Ace D-31, Oct 1953.
Planets for Sale, by E. Mayne Hull. New York, Frederick Fell, 1954; as by A.E. Van Vogt & E. Mayne Hull, Book Company of America, 1965; as by A.E. Van Vogt, London, Panther 047603, Apr 1978. Van Vogt’s contribution was minimal.
The Pawns of Null-A. New York, Ace D-187, 1956; London, Digit D377, Aug 1960; revised slightly as The Players of Null-A, New York, Berkley F1195, Mar 1966; London, Dobson, Sep 1970; as The Pawns of Null-A, London, Sphere 8766-1, Feb 1972; as The Players of Null-A, with an introduction by Charles Platt, Gregg Press, Jun 1977.
Empire of the Atom. Chicago, Shasta, 1956; London, New English Library 02326-5, Mar 1975; abridged version, (with Space Station #1 by Frank Belknap Long) New York, Ace D242, Sep 1957.
The Mind Cage. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1957; London, Panther 1112-9, Sep 1960.
The War Against the Rull. New York, Simon & Schuster, Sep 1959; London, Panther 1168, Feb 1961; with additional short story, New York, Tor/Orb, Aug 1999.
Siege of the Unseen (with The World Swappers by John Brunner). New York, Ace D-391, Oct 1959.
Der Zauberer von Linn, translated by Walter Ernsting. Germany, Terra Sonderband, 1961; as The Wizard of Linn, New York, Ace F-154, 1962; London, New English Library 02339-7, Jul 1975.
The Violent Man. New York, Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, Sep 1962.
The Beast. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1963; as Moonbeast, London, Panther 02937-0, Dec 1969 (previous as The Beast in A Van Vogt Omnibus, London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1967).
Rogue Ship. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1965; London, Dobson, Jan 1968.
The Winged Man, with E. Mayne Hull. Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1966; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, May 1967.
The Silkie. New York, Ace 76500, 1969; New English Library 01209-3, Feb 1973.
Quest for the Future. New York, Ace 69700, Jul 1970; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Mar 1971.
Children of Tomorrow. New York, Ace 10410, 1970; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Feb 1975.
The Battle of Forever. New York, Ace 04860, Jun 1971; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Jul 1972.
The Darkness on Diamondia. New York, Ace 13798, Jan 1972; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Feb 1974.
Future Glitter. New York, Ace 25980, Oct 1973; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Mar 1976; as Tyranopolis, London, Sphere 8734-3, Oct 1977.
The Secret Galactics. New York, Reward 797902-9, Mar 1974; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Sep 1975; as Earth Factor X, New York, DAW Books #206 (UY1249), Aug 1976.
The Man with a Thousand Names. New York, DAW Books #114 (UQ1125), Aug 1974; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Jun 1975.
Supermind. New York, DAW Books #224 (275-0), Jan 1977; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Mar 1978.
The Anarchistic Colossus. New York, Ace 02255-3, Apr 1977; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Aug 1978.
Renaissance. New York, Pocket Books 81859-7, May 1979; London, New English Library 49698, Oct 1980.
Rencontre Cosmique. France, J’Ai Lu, Aug 1979; as Cosmic Encounter, Garden City, New York, Doubeday, Feb 1980; London, New English Library 05354-7, Dec 1981.
La Machine Ultime, France, J’Ai Lu, Oct 1983; as Computerworld, New York, DAW Books #554 (879-1), Nov 1983; London, New English Library 97879-1, Aug 1984; as Computer Eye, New York DAW Books, Jul 1985.
La Fin du A. France, J’Ai Lu, Feb 1984; as Null-A Three, London, Sphere 8841-2, Feb 1985; New York, DAW Books #634 (056-4), Jul 1985; as Null A-3, Beverly Hills, California, Morrison Raven Hill, 1984 [Sep 1985].
A La Conquete de Kiber [To Conquer Kiber], translated by France-Marie Watkins. France, J’Ai Lu, Apr 1985.
Metamorphosen [The People of the White Sands], with Renato Pestriniero. Germany, Ullstein, 1987 (an expansion of Il Villaggio Incantato by Renato Pestriniero (based on the story "The Enchanted Village" by A.E. Van Vogt), Italy, Slan, 1982).
Slan Hunter, with Kevin Anderson. New York, Tor Books, 2007.

Triad: Three Complete Science Fiction Novels (contains The World of A, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, Slan). New York, Science Fiction Book Club, May 1959.
L’Assaut de l’Invisible, translated by Alain Doremieux. France, Le Rayon Fantastique, 1963; as The Three Eyes of Evil; and, Earth’s Last Fortress, London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Jun 1973; as Earth’s Last Fortress and The Three Eyes of Evil, London, Sphere 8732-7, Nov 1977.
A Van Vogt Omnibus (contains Planets for Sale, with E. Mayne Hull, The Beast, The Book of Ptath). London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Oct 1967.
Van Vogt Omnibus (contains Slan, The Mind Cage, The Winged Man). London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Aug 1971.
The Universe Maker; and, The Proxy Intelligence. London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1976; as The Universe Maker, London, Sphere 8733-5, Aug 1977.
Ischer, translated by Rainer Eisfeld. Germany, Bibliothek der SF Literatur, 1989.
Empire of the Atom and The Wizard of Linn. London, New English Library 53407, Oct 1981.
Das Atom-Imperium, translated by Bernd Muller. Germany, Bastei, 1983.
Null-A, translated by Ranier Eisfeld. Germany, Bibliothek der SF Literatur, 1986.
The Weapon Shops of Isher and The Weapon Makers. London, New English Library 42270-4, Apr 1988; as The Empire of Isher, New York, Science Fiction Book Club, 2000.
Ausserirdieche und Andere Wesen, translated by Michael Nagula & Nikolai Stockhammer. Germany, Bastei, 1988.
Les Portes de l’Eternite. France, Presses Pocket, Feb 1990.

Out of the Unknown, with E. Mayne Hull. Los Angeles, Fantasy Publishing, 1948; with introduction, Reseda, California, Powell, 1969; as The Sea Thing, and other stories, London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Jun 1970; abridged, London, New English Library 00615-8, Oct 1970;
Masters of Time. Reading, Pennsylvania, Fantasy Press, 1950.
Away and Beyond. New York, Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1952; London, Panther 1569, Sep 1963; abridged, New York, Berkley G-215, Feb 1959; abridged, London, Panther 02437-9, Oct 1978.
Destination: Universe!. New York, Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1952; London, Eyre Spottiswoode, Mar 1953.
Das Absolutum, translated by Jesco von Puttkamer. Germany, Balowa Verlag, 1961.
The Twisted Men (with One of Our Asteroids is Missing by Calvin M. Knox. New York, Ace F-253, Jan 1964.
Bis in die Unendlichkeit, translated by H.W. Mommers & A.D. Krauss. Germany, Terra Sonderband, 1964.
Das Monster und andere stories, translated by H.W. Mommers. Germany, Terra, 1964.
Monsters, ed. Forest J. Ackerman. New York, Paperback Library 52-515, Feb 1965; London, Corgi 08570-7, Nov 1970; as The Blal and other science fiction monsters, New York, Zebra #200, Aug 1976; expanded as Eleven Tales from the Sci-Fi Master A. E. Van Vogt, Sense of Wonder, 2000.
The Far-Out Worlds of A.E. Van Vogt. New York, Ace H-92, 1968; London, Sidgwick & Jackson, Apr 1973; expanded as The Worlds of A.E. Van Vogt, New York, Ace 22812, Jan 1974.
Au Dela du Neant, translated by Frank Straschitz. France, Club du livre d’Anticipation, 1969.
The Proxy Intelligence, and other mind benders. New York, Paperback Library 64-512, Jan 1971; revised contents as The Gryb, New York, Zebra 182-3, May 1976; London, New English Library 04580-3, Apr 1980.
M-33 in Andromeda. New York, Paperback Library 65-584, Apr 1971.
More Than Superhuman. New York, Dell 5818, May 1971; London, New English Library 02571-3, Sep 1975.
Der Erste Marsianer, translated by Walter Brumm. Germany, Terra Taschenbuch, 1971.
The Book of Van Vogt. New York, DAW Books #4 (UQ1004), Apr 1972; as Lost: Fifty Suns, New York, DAW Books UE1491, Sep 1979; London, New English Library 04949-3, Dec 1980.
Die Zeit der Androiden, translated by Walter Brumm. Germany, Terra Taschenbuch, 1973.
The Best of A.E. Van Vogt, edited by Angus Wells. London, Sphere 8774-2, May 1974; split into two volumes, The Best of A.E. Van Vogt 1940-1948, London, Sphere 8726- 2, Mar 1979, and The Best of A.E. Van Vogt 1949-1968, London, Sphere 8726-2, Mar 1979.
The Best of A.E. Van Vogt. New York, Pocket 80546-0, Jul 1976.
Alpha et Omega, translated by Jacqueline Huet. France, Le Masque, 1977.
La Derniere Fortresse. France, Le Masque, 1978.
Pendulum. New York, DAW Books #316 (423-0), Dec 1978; London, New English Library 05477-2, Jul 1982.
L’Horlage Temporelle, translated by France-Marie Watkins. France, J’Ai Lu, Apr 1979.
The Enchanted Village. Dearborn Heights, Michigan, Misfit Press, Oct 1979.
Les Operateurs Humains. France, J’Ai Lu, Apr 1983.
Le Livre d’or de Van Vogt. France, Presses-Pocket, Feb 1980; as Futur Parfait, France, Presses-Pocket, Jun 1988.
Der Meister der Zukunft, translated by Barbara Heidkamp, Rosemarie Hundertmarck, Ulrich Kiesow & Bernd Muller. Germany, Bastei, 1985.
Poteryano Piat’clesiat Solnts [Lost: 50 Suns], translated by Mikhail Nakhmanson. Russia, Redaktor, 1990.
Ghor, Kin-Slayer: The Saga of Gensenc’s Fifth-Born Son, with others, edited by Jonathan Bacon. West Warwick, RI, Necronomicon Press, Aug 1997.
Futures Past. San Francisco, CA, Tachyon Publications, Oct 1999.
Transfinite: The Essential A. E. Van Vogt, ed. Joe Rico & Rick Katze. NESFA, Feb 2003.
Transgalactic, ed. Eric Flint & David Drake. New York, Baen Books, Oct 2006.

Tomorrow on the March: The Text of the Speech Delivered July 4, 1946 at the Pacificon by the Guest of Honor. Los Angeles, Time-Binder Press, 1946.
The Hypnotism Handbook, with Charles Edward Cooke. Los Angeles, Borden, 1956; second edition, 1956?.
A Report on the Violent Male. Los Angeles, privately printed, late 1950s; Nottingham, Pauper’s Press, Aug 1992.
The Money Personality. West Nyack, New York, Parker, 1972; Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, Thorsons, Mar 1975; as Unlock Your Money Personality, Beverly Hills, California, Morrison Raven Hill, 1983.
Reflections of A.E. Van Vogt, ed. David Anthony Kraft. Lakemont, Georgia, Fictioneer Books, Feb 1975.
John W. Campbell Letters with Isaac Asimov & A.E. Van Vogt: Volume II, edited by Perry E. Chapdelaine, Sr. AC Projects, Sep 1993.

About A. E. Van Vogt
"Man Beyond Man" by Alexei Panshin (in Worlds Beyond, available online; adapted from "A New Moral Order" from The World Beyond the Hill, 1989)
A. E. Van Vogt: Master of Null-A, by Phil Stevenson-Payne & Ian Covell. Leeds, Galactic Central Publications, 1997.
A. E. Van Vogt: Science Fantasy's Icon, by H. L. Drake. Bangor, ME, Booklocker, Jan 2002.
The Three Worlds of Null-A, by Isaac W. Wilcott. 2003. [available online as a PDF]
Slanology: An In-Depth Guide to A. E. Van Vogt's Most Famous Novel, by Isaac W. Wilcott. Booklocker (e-book), Jun 2007.

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