Remembering AE van Vogt, pioneering SF author, perennial seeker, madcap weirdo


17 Responses to “Remembering AE van Vogt, pioneering SF author, perennial seeker, madcap weirdo”

  1. I’ve never seen my surname used in fiction like that. I must pick up some of these books!

  2. edthehippie says:

    to van vogt !!!  a superb author !! hear hear !! imbibe in the intoxicant of your choice , and be sure to spill a drop ( or the equivalent ) upon bare ground  ( or the equivalent ) in honour of this literary talent  !!

  3. Walter Guyll says:

    The thirteen year within loves The Weapon Shops of Isher, the last line still exploding inside my head.

  4. Ian Wood says:

    I contain paint!

  5. jmcgarry says:

    I always love these type of posts on BB, they cause me to dig deep into my shelves and pull out those forgotten treasures. I always loved van Vogt’s stuff. I can’t wait to reread The Weapon Shops of Isher and The World of Null-A.

  6. jake king says:

    Really need to have some sort of Van Vogt game or something.  Take two of his sentences at random and make that the first and last line of a story… 

    Anyway hats off to the post, been trying to prosthelytise this man for years and still working on being a Van Vogt completionist. 

  7. As unscientific as his stories seem now (and did then, for all I know) Vogt’s stories are the strongest embodiment of the idea of “a sense of wonder”.  Yes, for me, even more than Bradbury.

    Plus, he compressed more ideas into a page than most SF writers manage in a paragraph.

  8. Blake Meike says:

    Tighe systems training, FTW!

  9. Ramone says:

    I’m reading “Voyage of the Space Beagle” now which was the inspiration for both the original “Alien” film and the displacer beast in D&D. Great stuff!!

    Cory, that first Amazon link in your post (A.E. van Vogt ) looks broken to me.

  10. The following was posted on the Canadian SF Convention Runners mailing list a week ago…and seems very relevant here.


    114 BROWNING, Winnipeg, MB, R3K 0L8
    Postal queries to: 114 Browning, Winnipeg, MB, R3K 0L8


    Thursday APR 26 2012

    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – The Winnipeg Science Fiction Association Inc (WINSFA) is delighted to announce the creation of the A.E. VAN VOGT Award (The A.E.V.V.A.).

    Exactly 100 years ago, on April 26, 1912, Alfred Elton Van Vogt was born on a farm in Edenburg, a Russian Mennonite community east of Gretna, Manitoba, Canada. By July 1939, he had written his first Science Fiction story and had it professionally published.. He continued to write in Winnipeg until 1944 and it was during this time that one of his major stories “SLAN” was written. By 1995 he was awarded the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) . He has been the ONLY Canadian Science Fiction Writer to be awarded this major title.

    The Winnipeg Science Fiction Association (WINSFA) has taken advantage of this moment in time to create an award to honor this Manitoba born writer and his unique position as Canada’s only Grand Master and we extend our sincere gratitude to Van Vogt’s family for granting permission to honor his name & works.

    This award will be called the A.E.Van Vogt Award or AEVVA.

    We believe that this award, based on spotlighting the best in Canadian Science Fiction Writing over the past years, will:

    Draw attention to Canadian Science Fiction

    Demonstrate that Canada has been producing World class writers for some time.

    Cause more people to talk about Science Fiction .

    Promote better writing.

    Discover more writers.

    The actual award will consist of a presentation piece and monetary prize.

    We will host the award ceremony here in Winnipeg in late Sept to continue our support of Canadian Science Fiction.

  11. Gary Denton says:

    He had a very odd technique for writing.  He would fall asleep and wake up an hour or two later with the next several pages.  

  12. IndexMe says:

    An awesome writer and one of my favorites.

    • IndexMe says:

      However I find Giola’s snarky put-downs of Van Vogt under the guise of celebrating him to be just.too.much.

      • IndexMe says:

        Pardon me I feel in need of a Unicorn Chaser.

        Van Vogt’s books like The Weapon Shops of Isher, the Null-A series, Cosmic Encounter, Slan and Supermind are much more enjoyable and energizing than Giola suggests.

        For one thing Van Vogt often has characters who are both sub-average and find themselves able to become extraordinary by rising to the occasion. Elite space vampires and characters with high IQs show failings of personality that humble them. Reading his work can vault one’s thinking processes onto a galactic or nonlinear scale.

        It can be exhilirating fun and certainly doesn’t deserve what Giola did to him in this smirking back stabbing nasty website.

        I’d like to quote from the preface of one of Van Vogt’s books, The Mixed Men for my Chaser:

        The Golden Age of SF is universally dated from the July 1939, issue of Astounding because that’s when “Black Destroyer,” A. E. van Vogt’s first SF story, appeared. Isaac Asimov’s first story also appeared in the same month but nobody—as Asimov himself admits—noticed it.

        People noticed “Black Destroyer,” though, and they continued to notice the many other stories that van Vogt wrote over the following decade. With the encouragement and occasionally the direction of John W. Campbell, Heinlein, deCamp, Hubbard, Asimov, and van Vogt together created the Golden Age of SF.

        Each of those great writers was unique. What as much as anything set van Vogt off from other SF writers (of his day and later) was the ability to suggest vastness beyond comprehension. He worked with not only in space and time, but with the mind.

        Van Vogt knew that to describe the indescribable would have been to make it ludicrous, and that at best description turns the inconceivable into the pedestrian. More than any other SF writer, van Vogt succeeded in creating a sense of wonder in his readers by hinting at the shadowed immensities beyond the walls of human perception. What we’ve tried to do in our selections for Transgalactic is show some of van Vogt’s skill and range; but we too can only hint at the wonders of the unglimpsed whole.

        Eric Flint and Dave Drake 2005

  13. Heyref says:

    Van Vogt was one of the greats of the Golden Age of SF.  I discovered him when I bought The Weapon Shops of Isher through Scholastic Book Club when I was in junior high in the early 60s.  I immediately devoured every thing he wrote.  As others have noted above, he created a sense of the vastness of space and time beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend.  It inspired me and pushed me to learn as much as I could.   

  14. Bruce Kodish says:

    Alfred Korzybski read Van Vogt’s novel The World of Ā, when it came out in hardcover in 1948; it intrigued and bewildered him. Shortly afterwards he wrote to his wife Mira: “Do not buy it, because I am sending a copy to you. I read the damn thing three times, and I simply cannot make out what he is driving at; if you can, I would appreciate your opinion.” (Korzybski: A Biography, p. 584.)

    I opine that Van Vogt did a much better job of illustrating Korzybski’s general orientation in his subsequent book, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, which didn’t mention Korzybski or ‘general semantics’.

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