A. E. van Vogt

Last updated

A. E. van Vogt
Van Vogt about 1963
BornAlfred Vogt
(1912-04-26)April 26, 1912
Edenburg, near Gretna, Manitoba, Canada
DiedJanuary 26, 2000(2000-01-26) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California, US
Period1939–1986 (science fiction)
GenreScience fiction
Literary movement Golden Age of Science Fiction

Signature A.E. van Vogt (signature).svg

Alfred Elton van Vogt ( /vænvt/ ; April 26, 1912 – January 26, 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction author. His narrative style was compelling and stimulating, and in this way, influenced later science fiction writers, notably Philip K. Dick. He is regarded as one of the most popular, influential and complex practitioners of the mid-twentieth century, the genre's so-called Golden Age. [1]

Philip K. Dick American author

Philip Kindred Dick was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. His work explored philosophical, social, and political themes, with stories dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His writing also reflected his interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences.

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme; however, Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age.


Early life

Alfred Vogt (both "Elton" and "van" were added much later) was born on April 26, 1912 on his grandparents' farm in Edenburg, Manitoba, a tiny (and now defunct) Russian Mennonite community east of Gretna, Manitoba, Canada in the Mennonite West Reserve. He was the third of six children born to Heinrich "Henry" Vogt and Aganetha "Agnes" Vogt (née Buhr), both of whom were themselves born in Manitoba, but who grew up in heavily immigrant communities. Until age four, van Vogt and his family spoke only a dialect of Low German at home. [2]

Russian Mennonite ethnic group

The Russian Mennonites are a group of Mennonites who are descendants of Dutch Anabaptists who settled for about 250 years in West Prussia and established colonies in the south west of the Russian Empire beginning in 1789. Since the late 19th century, many of them have come to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. The rest were forcibly relocated, so that very few of their descendants now live at the location of the original colonies. Russian Mennonites are traditionally multilingual with Plautdietsch as their first language and lingua franca. In 2014 there are several hundred thousand Russian Mennonites: about 200,000 in Germany, 100,000 in Mexico, 70,000 in Bolivia, 40,000 in Paraguay, 10,000 in Belize and tens of thousands in Canada and the US and a few thousand in Argentina, Uruguay, Belize, and Brazil.

Gretna, Manitoba hamlet in Rhineland, Manitoba, Canada

Gretna is an unincorporated urban community in the Municipality of Rhineland within the Canadian province of Manitoba that held town status prior to January 1, 2015. Just north of the Canada - United States border on PTH 30, Gretna had a population of 541 in 2016.

The West Reserve was a plot of land in Manitoba set aside by the Government of Canada exclusively for settlement by Russian Mennonite settlers in 1876. After signing Treaty 1 with the Anishinabe and Swampy Cree First Nations, the Canadian government sent William Hespeler to recruit Mennonite farmers to the region. In 1873 Mennonite delegates from the Russian Empire,, visited the area and agreed to a Privilegium outlining religious freedom, military exemption, and land. This land became known as the East Reserve, because it was east of the Red River.

For the first dozen or so years of his life, van Vogt's father, Henry Vogt, a lawyer, moved his family several times within western Canada, alighting successively in Neville, Saskatchewan; Morden, Manitoba; and finally Winnipeg, Manitoba. Alfred Vogt found these moves difficult, later remarking:

Neville, Saskatchewan Village in Prairies, Canada

Neville is a small village of around 80 citizens and is located on Highway 43. Neville remains a viable community renowned for its low cost of living, negligible crime rate, stargazing and bird watching opportunities, clean air and sunshine.

Morden, Manitoba City in Manitoba, Canada

Morden is a city located in the Pembina Valley region of southern Manitoba, Canada near the United States border. It is about 11 km (6.8 mi) west of the neighbouring city of Winkler. Morden, which is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Stanley. Morden is the eighth largest city in Manitoba. The city is located south of Winnipeg. The communities of Morden and Winkler are often referred to as Manitoba's Twin Cities, due to their extremely close proximity, shared services, and economic ties. According to Statistics Canada, the city had a population of 8,668 in 2016. Morden, along with the neighbouring city of Winkler, form an urban area with a population exceeding 22,000.

Childhood was a terrible period for me. I was like a ship without anchor being swept along through darkness in a storm. Again and again I sought shelter, only to be forced out of it by something new. [2]

By the 1920s, living in Winnipeg, father Henry worked as an agent for a steamship company, but the stock market crash of 1929 proved financially disastrous, and the family could not afford to send Alfred to college. During his teen years, Alfred worked as a farmhand and a truck driver, and by the age of 19, he was working in Ottawa for the Canadian census bureau. He began his writing career with stories in the true confession style of pulp magazines such as True Story . Most of these stories were published anonymously, with the first-person narratives allegedly being written by people (often women) in extraordinary, emotional, and life-changing circumstances.

Ottawa Federal capital city in Ontario, Canada

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec; the two form the core of the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area (CMA) and the National Capital Region (NCR). As of 2016, Ottawa had a city population of 964,743 and a metropolitan population of 1,323,783 making it the fourth-largest city and the fifth-largest CMA in Canada.

<i>True Confessions</i> (magazine)

True Confessions is a confession magazine targeted at young women readers. It was originally published by Fawcett Publications, beginning in 1922.

<i>True Story</i> (magazine)

True Story is an American magazine published by True Renditions, LLC. It was the first of the confessions magazines genre, having launched in 1919. It carried the subtitle Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.

After a year in Ottawa, he moved back to Winnipeg, where he sold newspaper advertising space and continued to write. While continuing to pen melodramatic "true confessions" stories through 1937, he also began writing short radio dramas for local radio station CKY, as well as conducting interviews published in trade magazines. He added the middle name "Elton" at some point in the mid-1930s, and at least one confessional story (1937's "To Be His Keeper") was sold to the Toronto Star , who misspelled his name "Alfred Alton Bogt" in the byline. [3] Shortly thereafter, he added the "van" to his surname, and from that point forward he used the name "A.E. van Vogt" both personally and professionally.

<i>Toronto Star</i> Newspaper in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Toronto Star is a Canadian broadsheet daily newspaper. Based on 2015 statistics, it is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper on overall weekly circulation; although it is a close second to The Globe and Mail in daily circulation on weekdays, it overtakes the Globe in weekly circulation because the Globe does not publish a Sunday edition. The Toronto Star is owned by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of Torstar Corporation and part of Torstar's Daily News Brands division.


By 1938, van Vogt decided to switch to writing science fiction, a genre he enjoyed reading. [4] He was inspired by the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, which he picked up at a newsstand. John W. Campbell's novelette "Who Goes There?" (later adapted into The Thing from Another World and The Thing ) inspired van Vogt to write "Vault of the Beast", which he submitted to that same magazine. Campbell, who edited Astounding (and had written the story under a pseudonym), sent van Vogt a rejection letter, but one which encouraged van Vogt to try again. Van Vogt sent another story, entitled "Black Destroyer," which was accepted. A revised version of "Vault of the Beast" would be published in 1940.

Van Vogt's "Ship of Darkness" was the cover story in the second issue of Fantasy Book in 1948 Fantasy book 1947 v1 n2.jpg
Van Vogt's "Ship of Darkness" was the cover story in the second issue of Fantasy Book in 1948

Van Vogt's first SF publication was inspired by The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. [5] "The Black Destroyer" was published in July 1939 by John W. Campbell in Astounding Science Fiction , the centennial year of Darwin's journal. It featured a fierce, carnivorous alien, the coeurl, stalking the crew of an exploration spaceship, and served as the inspiration for multiple science fiction movies, including Alien (1979). [lower-alpha 1]

Also in 1939, still living in Winnipeg, van Vogt married Edna Mayne Hull, a fellow Manitoban. Hull, who had previously worked as a private secretary, would act as van Vogt's typist, and be credited with writing several SF stories of her own throughout the early 1940s.

The outbreak of World War II in September 1939 caused a change in van Vogt's circumstances. Ineligible for military service due to his poor eyesight, van Vogt accepted a clerking job with the Canadian Department of National Defence. This necessitated a move back to Ottawa, where he and his wife would stay for the next year-and-a-half.

Meanwhile, his writing career continued. "Discord in Scarlet" was van Vogt's second story to be published, also appearing as the cover story. [6] It was accompanied by interior illustrations created by Frank Kramer [lower-alpha 2] and Paul Orban. [7] [8] (Van Vogt and Kramer [lower-alpha 2] thus debuted in the issue of Astounding that is sometimes identified as the start of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. [9] [10] )

Van Vogt's first completed novel, and one of his most famous, is Slan (Arkham House, 1946), which Campbell serialized in Astounding September to December 1940. [7] Using what became one of van Vogt's recurring themes, it told the story of a nine-year-old superman living in a world in which his kind are slain by Homo sapiens .

Others saw van Vogt's talent and stardom from his first story, [9] and in May 1941, van Vogt decided to become a full-time writer, quitting his job at the Canadian Department of National Defence. Freed from the necessity of living in Ottawa, he and his wife lived for a time in the Gatineau region of Quebec before moving to Toronto in the fall of 1941. [11] [12]

Prolific throughout this period, van Vogt wrote many of his more famous short stories and novels in the years from 1941 through 1944. The novels The Book of Ptath and The Weapon Makers both appeared in magazines in serial form during this era; they were later published in book form after World War II. As well, several (though not all) of the stories that were compiled to make up the novels The Weapon Shops of Isher , The Mixed Men and The War Against the Rull were also published during this time.

California and post-war writing (1944–1950)

In November 1944, van Vogt and Hull moved to Hollywood; van Vogt would spend the rest of his life in California. He had been using the name "A.E. van Vogt" in his public life for several years, and as part of the process of obtaining American citizenship in 1945 he finally and formally changed his legal name from Alfred Vogt to Alfred Elton van Vogt. To his friends in the California science fiction community, he was known as "Van".

Method and themes

Van Vogt systematized his writing method, using scenes of 800 words or so where a new complication was added or something resolved. Several of his stories hinge on temporal conundra, a favorite theme. He stated that he acquired many of his writing techniques from three books: Narrative Technique by Thomas Uzzell, The Only Two Ways to Write a Story by John Gallishaw, and Twenty Problems of the Fiction Writer by Gallishaw. [2] He also claimed many of his ideas came from dreams; throughout his writing life he arranged to be awakened every 90 minutes during his sleep period so he could write down his dreams. [13]

Van Vogt was also always interested in the idea of all-encompassing systems of knowledge (akin to modern meta-systems) — the characters in his very first story used a system called "Nexialism" to analyze the alien's behavior. Around this time, he became particularly interested in the general semantics of Alfred Korzybski.

He subsequently wrote a novel merging these overarching themes, The World of Ā , originally serialized in Astounding in 1945. Ā (often rendered as Null-A), or non-Aristotelian logic, refers to the capacity for, and practice of, using intuitive, inductive reasoning (compare fuzzy logic), rather than reflexive, or conditioned, deductive reasoning. The novel recounts the adventures of an individual living in an apparent Utopia, where those with superior brainpower make up the ruling class... though all is not as it seems. A sequel, The Players of Ā (later re-titled The Pawns of Null-A ) was serialized in 1948/49.

At the same time, in his fiction, van Vogt was consistently sympathetic to absolute monarchy as a form of government. [14] This was the case, for instance, in the Weapon Shop series, the Mixed Men series, and in single stories such as "Heir Apparent" (1945), whose protagonist was described as a "benevolent dictator". These sympathies were the subject of much critical discussion during van Vogt's career, and afterwards.

Van Vogt published "Enchanted Village" in the July 1950 issue of Other Worlds Science Stories. It was reprinted in over 20 collections or anthologies, and appeared many times in translation. [15]

Dianetics and fix-ups (1950–1961)

In 1950, van Vogt was briefly appointed as head of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics operation in California. Van Vogt had first met Hubbard in 1945, and became interested in his Dianetics theories, which were published shortly thereafter. Dianetics was the secular precursor to Hubbard's Church of Scientology; van Vogt would have no association with Scientology, as he did not approve of its mysticism.

The California Dianetics operation went broke nine months later, but never went bankrupt, due to van Vogt's arrangements with creditors. Very shortly after that, van Vogt and his wife opened their own Dianetics center, partly financed by his writings, until he "signed off" around 1961. In practical terms, what this meant was that from 1951 through 1961, van Vogt's focus was on Dianetics, and no new story ideas flowed from his typewriter.


However, during the 1950s, van Vogt retrospectively patched together many of his previously published stories into novels, sometimes creating new interstitial material to help bridge gaps in the narrative. Van Vogt referred to the resulting books as "fix-ups", a term that entered the vocabulary of science-fiction criticism. When the original stories were closely related this was often successful — although some van Vogt fix-ups featured disparate stories thrown together that bore little relation to each other, generally making for a less coherent plot. One of his best-known (and well-regarded) novels, The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950) was a fix-up of four short stories including "Discord in Scarlet"; it was published in at least five European languages by 1955. [7]

Still, although Van Vogt averaged a new book title every ten months from 1951 to 1961, none of them were new stories. All of van Vogt's books from 1951 to 1961 were fix-ups, or collections of previously published stories, or expansions of previously published short stories to novel length, or republications of his books under new titles. All were based on story material written and originally published between 1939 and 1950. As well, one non-fiction work, The Hypnotism Handbook, appeared in 1956, though it had apparently been written much earlier.

Some of van Vogt's more well-known work was still produced using the fix-up method. In 1951, he published the fix-up The Weapon Shops of Isher. In the same decade, van Vogt also produced collections and fixups such as The Mixed Men (1952), The War Against the Rull (1959), and the two "Clane" novels, Empire of the Atom (1957) and The Wizard of Linn (1962), which were inspired (like Asimov's Foundation series) by Roman imperial history, specifically the reign of Claudius.

After more than a decade of running their Dianetics center, Hull and van Vogt closed it in 1961. Nevertheless, van Vogt maintained his association with the overall organization and was still president of the Californian Association of Dianetic Auditors into the 1980s. [13]

Return to writing and later career (1962–1986)

Though the constant re-packaging of his older work meant that he had never really been away from the book publishing world, van Vogt had not published any wholly new fiction for almost 12 years when he decided to return to writing in 1962. He did not return immediately to science fiction, however, but instead wrote the only mainstream, non-sf novel of his career.

Van Vogt was profoundly affected by revelations of totalitarian police states that emerged after World War II. Accordingly, he wrote a mainstream novel that he set in Communist China, The Violent Man (1962); he said that to research this book he had read 100 books about China. Into this book he incorporated his view of "the violent male type", which he described as a "man who had to be right", a man who "instantly attracts women" and who he said were the men who "run the world". [16] Contemporary reviews were lukewarm at best, [17] and van Vogt thereafter returned to science fiction.

From 1963 through the mid-1980s, van Vogt once again published new material on a regular basis, though fix-ups and reworked material also appeared relatively often. His later novels included fix-ups such as The Beast (also known as Moonbeast) (1963), Rogue Ship (1965), Quest for the Future (1970) and Supermind (1977). He also wrote novels by expanding previously published short stories; works of this type include The Darkness on Diamondia (1972) and Future Glitter (also known as Tyranopolis; 1973).

Novels that were written simply as novels, and not serialized magazine pieces or fix-ups, were very rare in van Vogt's oeuvre, but began to appear regularly beginning in the 1970s. Van Vogt's original novels included Children of Tomorrow (1970), The Battle of Forever (1971) and The Anarchistic Colossus (1977). Over the years, many sequels to his classic works were promised, but only one appeared: Null-A Three (1984; originally published in French). Several later books were originally published in Europe, and at least one novel only ever appeared in foreign language editions and was never published in its original English.

Final years

When the 1979 film Alien appeared, it was noted that the plot closely matched the plot of van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle . Van Vogt sued the production company for plagiarism, and eventually collected an out-of-court settlement of $50,000 from 20th Century Fox. [18] [19]

In increasingly frail health, van Vogt's final short story appeared in 1986.


On January 26, 2000, A. E. van Vogt died in Los Angeles from Alzheimer's disease. He was survived by his second wife, the former Lydia Bereginsky.

Personal life

Van Vogt's first wife, Edna Mayne Hull, died in 1975. Van Vogt married Lydia Bereginsky in 1979; they remained together until his death.

Critical reception

Critical opinion about the quality of van Vogt's work is sharply divided. An early and articulate critic was Damon Knight. In a 1945 [20] chapter-long essay reprinted in In Search of Wonder, [14] entitled "Cosmic Jerrybuilder: A. E. van Vogt", Knight described van Vogt as "no giant; he is a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter". Knight described The World of Null-A as "one of the worst allegedly adult science fiction stories ever published". Concerning van Vogt's writing, Knight said:

In general van Vogt seems to me to fail consistently as a writer in these elementary ways: 1. His plots do not bear examination. 2. His choice of words and his sentence-structure are fumbling and insensitive. 3. He is unable either to visualize a scene or to make a character seem real.

About Empire of the Atom Knight wrote:

If you can only throw your reasoning powers out of gear — something many van Vogt fans find easy to do — you'll enjoy this one.

Knight also expressed misgivings about van Vogt's politics. He noted that van Vogt's stories almost invariably present absolute monarchy in a favorable light. In 1974, Knight retracted some of his criticism after finding out about Vogt's working methods about writing down his dreams: [21]

This explains a good deal about the stories, and suggests that it is really useless to attack them by conventional standards. If the stories have a dream consistency which affects readers powerfully, it is probably irrelevant that they lack ordinary consistency.

Knight's criticism greatly damaged van Vogt's reputation. [22] On the other hand, when science fiction author Philip K. Dick was asked [23] which science fiction writers had influenced his work the most, he replied:

I started reading sf when I was about twelve and I read all I could, so any author who was writing about that time, I read. But there's no doubt who got me off originally and that was A.E. van Vogt. There was in van Vogt's writing a mysterious quality, and this was especially true in The World of Null A [ sic ]. All the parts of that book did not add up; all the ingredients did not make a coherency. Now some people are put off by that. They think that's sloppy and wrong, but the thing that fascinated me so much was that this resembled reality more than anybody else's writing inside or outside science fiction.

Dick also defended van Vogt against Damon Knight's criticisms:

Damon feels that it's bad artistry when you build those funky universes where people fall through the floor. It's like he's viewing a story the way a building inspector would when he's building your house. But reality really is a mess, and yet it's exciting. The basic thing is, how frightened are you of chaos? And how happy are you with order? Van Vogt influenced me so much because he made me appreciate a mysterious chaotic quality in the universe which is not to be feared.

In a review of Transfinite: The Essential A. E. van Vogt, science fiction writer Paul Di Filippo said:

Van Vogt knew precisely what he was doing in all areas of his fiction writing. There's hardly a wasted word in his stories. ... His plots are marvels of interlocking pieces, often ending in real surprises and shocks, genuine paradigm shifts, which are among the hardest conceptions to depict. And the intellectual material of his fictions, the conceits and tossed-off observations on culture and human and alien behavior, reflect a probing mind. ... Each tale contains a new angle, a unique slant, that makes it stand out. [24]

In The John W. Campbell Letters, Campbell says, "The son-of-a-gun gets hold of you in the first paragraph, ties a knot around you, and keeps it tied in every paragraph thereafter—including the ultimate last one". [16] [25]

Harlan Ellison (who had begun reading van Vogt as a teenager) [26] wrote, "Van was the first writer to shine light on the restricted ways in which I had been taught to view the universe and the human condition". [16]

Writing in 1984, David Hartwell said: [27]

No one has taken van Vogt seriously as a writer for a long time. Yet he has been read and still is. What no one seems to have noticed is that van Vogt, more than any other single SF writer, is the conduit through which the energy of Gernsbackian, primitive wonder stories have been transmitted through the Campbellian age, when earlier styles of SF were otherwise rejected, and on into SF of the present.

The literary critic Leslie A. Fiedler said something similar: [28]

Van Vogt is a test case ... since an apology for or analysis of science fiction which fails to come to terms with his appeal and major importance, defends or defines the genre by falsifying it.

American literary critic Fredric Jameson says of van Vogt:

that van Vogt's work clearly prepares the way for that of the greatest of all Science Fiction writers, Philip K. Dick, whose extraordinary novels and stories are inconceivable without the opening onto that play of unconscious materials and fantasy dynamics released by van Vogt, and very different from the more hard-science aesthetic ideologies of his contemporaries (from Campbell to Heinlein). [29] :315

Van Vogt still has his critics. For example, Darrell Schweitzer writing to The New York Review of Science Fiction in 1999 [30] quoted a passage from the original van Vogt novelette "The Mixed Men", which he was then reading, and remarked:

This is the realism, and logic, of a small boy playing with toy soldiers in a sandbox. I'm tougher than you. I've got a billion spaceships! They're brand-new. They only took 800 years to develop.

And this is a story in which most of the cast either have two brains or are really robots ... and even the emotions of the human characters are programmed or deprogrammed as part of plots within counter plots. Next to this, Doc Smith was an icy realist. There is no intersection with adult reality at any point, for all van Vogt was able to write was that small boy's sandbox game with an adult level of intensity. This is, I think, the secret of van Vogt's bizarre fascination, as awful as his actual writing might be, and why he appealed so strongly to Philip K. Dick, who managed to put more adult characters and emotions into equally crazy situations. It's ultimately very strange to find this sort of writing so prominently sponsored by supposedly rational and scientifically minded John W. Campbell, when it seems to contravene everything the Golden Age stood for.


The Science Fiction Writers of America named him its 14th Grand Master in 1995 (presented 1996). [31] Also in 1996, van Vogt received a Special Award from the World Science Fiction Convention "for six decades of golden age science fiction". [32] That same year, he was inducted as an inaugural member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. [33]

In 1946, van Vogt and his first wife, Edna Mayne Hull, were Guests of Honor at the fourth World Science Fiction Convention. [34]

In 1980, van Vogt received a "Casper Award" (precursor to the Canadian Prix Aurora Awards) for Lifetime Achievement. [35] [32]

The Science Fiction Writers of America named him its 14th Grand Master in 1995 (presented 1996). [31] Great controversy within SFWA accompanied its long wait in bestowing its highest honor (limited to living writers, no more than one annually [31] ). Writing an obituary of van Vogt, Robert J. Sawyer, a fellow Canadian writer of science fiction, remarked:

There was no doubt that van Vogt should have received this honor much earlier — the injustice of him being overlooked, at least in part because of damnable SFWA politics, had so incensed Harlan Ellison, a man with an impeccable moral compass, that he'd lobbied hard on the Sci-Fi Channel and elsewhere on van Vogt's behalf. [36]

It is generally held that the "damnable SFWA politics" concerns Damon Knight, the founder of the SFWA, who abhorred van Vogt's style and politics and thoroughly demolished his literary reputation in the 1950s. [37]

Harlan Ellison was more explicit in 1999 introduction to Futures Past: The Best Short Fiction of A. E. van Vogt: [26]

[A]t least I was able to make enough noise to get Van the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award, which was presented to him in full ceremony during one of the last moments when he was cogent and clearheaded enough to understand that finally, at last, dragged kicking and screaming to honor him, the generation that learned from what he did and what he had created had, at last, 'fessed up to his importance.

... were the same ones who assured me that Van would never get the Grand Master until Damon Knight had gotten it first, because Damon had loathed Van's work and had, in fact written the essay that ridiculed Van and held him up to opprobrium for decades thereafter, and Damon having founded SFWA it would be an affront to him if Van got it first. Well, I don't know if that's true or not, though it was common coin in the field for years; but Damon got the Grand Master award in 1994. And Van got it in 1995. [lower-alpha 3] As they say during sweeps week on television: coincidence or conspiracy?

In 1996, van Vogt received a Special Award from the World Science Fiction Convention "for six decades of golden age science fiction". [32] That same year, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in its inaugural class of two deceased and two living persons, along with writer Jack Williamson (also living) and editors Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell. [33]

The works of van Vogt were translated into French by the surrealist Boris Vian (The World of Null-A as Le Monde des Å in 1958), and van Vogt's works were "viewed as great literature of the surrealist school". [38] In addition, Slan was published in French, translated by Jean Rosenthal, under the title À la poursuite des Slans, as part of the paperback series 'Editions J'ai Lu: Romans-Texte Integral' in 1973, this edition also listing the following works by van Vogt as having been published in French as part of this series: Le Monde des Å, La faune de l'espace, Les joueurs du Å, L'empire de l'atome, Le sorcier de Linn, Les armureries d'Isher, Les fabricants d'armes, and Le livre de Ptath. [39]



The following table can be sorted to show van Vogt's novels in chronological order,
or arranged alphabetically by title, or by series. Primary dates list first publication in book form.
YearTitleSeriesNotesAlternate titles
1946 Slan Originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction , September – December 1940.
1947 The Weapon Makers IsherSignificantly revised version of a novel originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction , February – April 1943.
Revised again in 1952.
One Against Eternity (1964)
1947 The Book of Ptath Originally appeared (complete) in Unknown , October 1943.
Two Hundred Million A.D. (1964)
Ptath (1976)
1948 The World of Ā Null-ARevised and shortened version of a novel originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction , August – October 1945.
Revised again in 1970.
The World of Null-A (all editions from 1953 forward)
1950 The House That Stood Still The Mating Cry (1960, revised)
The Undercover Aliens (1976)
1950 The Voyage of the Space Beagle Fix-up of four short stories, originally published 1939 – 1950.Mission: Interplanetary (1952)
1951 The Weapon Shops of Isher IsherFix-up of three short stories, originally published 1941 – 1949.
1952 The Mixed Men Fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1943 – 1945.Mission to the Stars (1955)
1953 The Universe Maker Extensively rewritten and expanded version of the short story "The Shadow Men" (1950).
1954 The Pawns of Null-A Null-AOriginally serialized (as The Players of Ā) in Astounding Science Fiction , October 1948 – January 1949.The Players of Null-A (1966)
1957 The Mind Cage Extensively rewritten and expanded version of the short story "The Great Judge" (1948].
1957 Empire of the Atom GodsFix-up of five short stories, originally published 1946 – 1947.
1959Siege of the UnseenOriginally serialized (as The Chronicler) in Astounding Science Fiction , October – November 1946.The Three Eyes of Evil (1973)
1959 The War Against the Rull Fix-up of six short stories, originally published 1940 – 1950.
1960Earth's Last FortressNovella, originally appeared (complete, as "Recruiting Station") in Astounding Science Fiction , March 1942.Anthologized as "Masters Of Time" in the van Vogt collection Masters Of Time (1950).
1962 The Wizard of Linn GodsOriginally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction , April – June 1950.
1962The Violent ManNon-sf; a political thriller.
1963The BeastSubstantially revised fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1943 – 1944.Moonbeast (1969)
1965 Rogue Ship Fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1947 – 1963.
1966The Winged Man (with E. Mayne Hull)Originally serialized (and credited solely to E. Mayne Hull) in Astounding Science Fiction , May – June 1944. Greatly expanded (from 35,000 to 60,000 words) by van Vogt for book publication.
1967The ChangelingNovella, originally appeared (complete) in Astounding Science Fiction , April 1944.
Previously anthologized in the van Vogt collection Masters Of Time (1950).
1969 The Silkie Fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1964 – 1967.
1970 Children of Tomorrow
1970 Quest for the Future Fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1943 – 1946.
1971The Battle of Forever
1972The Darkness on Diamondia
1973Future GlitterTyranopolis (1977)
1974 The Man with a Thousand Names
1974The Secret GalacticsEarth Factor X (1976)
1977 Supermind Fix-up of three short stories, originally published 1942 – 1968. The 1965 story "Research Alpha", minimally revised to form chapters 23-36 of this novel, was credited on original publication to van Vogt and James H. Schmitz.
1977The Anarchistic Colossus
1979Cosmic Encounter
1983ComputerworldComputer Eye (1985)
1984 Null-A Three Null-A
1985To Conquer KiberUnpublished in English. Published in French as A la conquête de Kiber and in Romanian as Cucerirea Kiberului [40]




See also


  1. This [The voyage of the Space Beagle] is the classic 'bug-eyed monster' novel, the unacknowledged inspiration for the film Alien and scores of similar
    David Pringle, (1990) "The Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction", Grafton Books, page 346.
    The stories collected in The Voyage of the Space Beagle were perhaps the first to chronicle the adventures of the crew of a large, military-style starship exploring the universe, and doubtless influenced Gene Roddenberry strongly when he created Star Trek. ... One of the Space Beagle stories purportedly inspired the movie Alien - the resemblance was great enough that van Vogt brought a lawsuit against the filmmakers, which reportedly settled for a $50,000 payment.
    Aaron Hughes, "Neglected Masters Book Review" retrieved 2010-09-09
    ... The Voyage Of The Space Beagle (1950), later inspired the original Star Trek series and the movie Alien.
    'Black Destroyer' has been cited as the inspiration for the movie Alien and its many sequels and imitations
    Gerald Jonas, (2000) "A. E. van Vogt, 87, Forceful Science-Fiction Voice", New York Times obituary, 2000-02-04
    Alien is thus virtually a film version or translation of "Black Destroyer". (Van Vogt is not credited, and as it turns out he sued the film-makers for plagiarism; the latter settling out of court.
    Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future. The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (New York: Verso, 2005, pp. 325)
  2. 1 2 According to ISFDB, writer van Vogt [7] and illustrator Kramer both made their debuts, at least in speculative fiction, with "The Black Destroyer".
    "Frank Kramer – Summary Bibliography". ISFDB. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
  3. The award was presented to Knight and van Vogt in 1995 and 1996 respectively, the years following selection. It is restricted to living authors, no more than one annually. It was renamed the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master (Award) after Knight's death in 2002. [31]

Related Research Articles

Hal Clement American author

Harry Clement Stubbs, better known by the pen name Hal Clement, was an American science fiction writer and a leader of the hard science fiction subgenre. He also painted astronomically oriented artworks under the name George Richard.

John W. Campbell American science fiction writer and editor

John Wood Campbell Jr. was an American science fiction writer and editor. He was editor of Astounding Science Fiction from late 1937 until his death and was part of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Campbell wrote super-science space opera under his own name and stories under his primary pseudonym, Don A. Stuart. Campbell also used the pen names Karl Van Kampen and Arthur McCann. His novella Who Goes There? was adapted as the films The Thing from Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011).

Damon Knight American science fiction writer, editor and critic

Damon Francis Knight was an American science fiction author, editor and critic. He is the author of "To Serve Man", a 1950 short story adapted for The Twilight Zone. He was married to fellow writer Kate Wilhelm.

Lester del Rey Novelist, short story writer, editor

Lester del Rey was an American science fiction author and editor. He was the author of many books in the juvenile Winston Science Fiction series, and the editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey.

John C. Wright (author) American novelist and technical writer

John C. Wright is an American writer of science fiction and fantasy novels. A former lawyer, newspaperman, and newspaper editor. He was a Nebula Award finalist for his fantasy novel Orphans of Chaos. Publishers Weekly said he "may be this fledgling century's most important new SF talent" when reviewing his debut novel, The Golden Age.

<i>The World of Null-A</i> book

The World of Null-A, sometimes written The World of Ā, is a 1948 science fiction novel by Canadian American writer A. E. van Vogt. It was originally published as a three-part serial in 1945 in Astounding Stories. It incorporates concepts from the General Semantics of Alfred Korzybski. The name Ā refers to non-Aristotelian logic.

<i>The Voyage of the Space Beagle</i> book by A.E. van Vogt

The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950) is a science fiction novel by Canadian-American writer A. E. van Vogt. An example of space opera subgenre, the novel is a "fix-up" compilation of four previously published stories:

<i>Unknown</i> (magazine) US pulp fantasy magazine published from 1939 to 1943

Unknown was an American pulp fantasy fiction magazine, published from 1939 to 1943 by Street & Smith, and edited by John W. Campbell. Unknown was a companion to Street & Smith's science fiction pulp, Astounding Science Fiction, which was also edited by Campbell at the time; many authors and illustrators contributed to both magazines. The leading fantasy magazine in the 1930s was Weird Tales, which focused on shock and horror. Campbell wanted to publish a fantasy magazine with more finesse and humor than Weird Tales, and put his plans into action when Eric Frank Russell sent him the manuscript of his novel Sinister Barrier, about aliens who own the human race. Unknown's first issue appeared in March 1939; in addition to Sinister Barrier, it included H. L. Gold's "Trouble With Water", a humorous fantasy about a New Yorker who meets a water gnome. Gold's story was the first of many in Unknown to combine commonplace reality with the fantastic.

<i>Slan</i> novel by A. E. van Vogt

Slan is a science fiction novel by American-Canadian writer A. E. van Vogt, as well as the name of the fictional race of superbeings featured in the novel. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. It was subsequently published in hardcover in 1946 by Arkham House, in an edition of 4,051 copies. In 2016, Slan was awarded the Retro-Hugo Award for Best Novel for 1941.

Edna Mayne Hull Canadian writer

Edna May Hull van Vogt was a Canadian science fiction writer who published under the name E. Mayne Hull. She was the first wife of A. E. van Vogt, also a science fiction writer.

A fix-up is a novel created from several short fiction stories that may or may not have been initially related or previously published. The stories may be edited for consistency, and sometimes new connecting material, such as a frame story or other interstitial narration, is written for the new work. The term was coined by the science fiction writer A. E. van Vogt, who published several fix-ups of his own, including The Voyage of the Space Beagle, but the practice exists outside of science fiction. The use of the term in science fiction criticism was popularised by the first (1979) edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by Peter Nicholls, which credited van Vogt with the creation of the term. The name comes from the modifications that the author needs to make in the original texts to make them fit together as though they were a novel. Foreshadowing of events from the later stories may be jammed into an early chapter of the fix-up, and character development may be interleaved throughout the book. Contradictions and inconsistencies between episodes are usually worked out.

<i>The Mixed Men</i> book by A.E. van Vogt

The Mixed Men is a fix-up novel of science fiction short stories by Canadian-American writer A. E. van Vogt that focus on the mixed offspring of Dellian Supermen and human beings. The novel's title is taken from van Vogt's 1945 Astounding SF short story "Mixed Men", which was nominated for a Retro-Hugo Award in 1996. The stories published in the novel were originally released between the years of 1943 to 1945 in Astounding SF, with the novel being first published in a 5,000 copy printing in 1952 by Gnome Press and a 1955 Berkley Books edition under the title Mission to the Stars.

<i>Empire of the Atom</i> book by A.E. van Vogt

Empire of the Atom is a science fiction novel by Canadian American writer A. E. van Vogt. It was first published in 1957 by Shasta Publishers in an edition of 2,000 copies. The novel is a fix-up of the first five of van Vogt's Gods stories which originally appeared in the magazine Astounding. The remaining Gods stories are collected in The Wizard of Linn. Author and critic James Blish observed that the plot of the Gods stories resembled that of Robert Graves' Claudius novels. Author and critic Damon Knight said that the plot was "lifted almost bodily" from the plot of I, Claudius. A genealogy chart of the ruling family of the Empire of Linn is included.

<i>Out of the Unknown</i> (collection) book by A.E. van Vogt

Out of the Unknown is a collection of fantasy short stories by Canadian writers A. E. van Vogt and E. Mayne Hull. It was first published in 1948 by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in an edition of 1,000 copies. The stories originally appeared in the magazine Unknown.

<i>Analog Science Fiction and Fact</i> US science fiction magazine

Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine published under various titles since 1930. Originally titled Astounding Stories of Super-Science, the first issue was dated January 1930, published by William Clayton, and edited by Harry Bates. Clayton went bankrupt in 1933 and the magazine was sold to Street & Smith. The new editor was F. Orlin Tremaine, who soon made Astounding the leading magazine in the nascent pulp science fiction field, publishing well-regarded stories such as Jack Williamson's Legion of Space and John W. Campbell's "Twilight". At the end of 1937, Campbell took over editorial duties under Tremaine's supervision, and the following year Tremaine was let go, giving Campbell more independence. Over the next few years Campbell published many stories that became classics in the field, including Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, A.E. van Vogt's Slan, and several novels and stories by Robert A. Heinlein. The period beginning with Campbell's editorship is often referred to as the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

<i>In Search of Wonder</i> book by Damon Knight

In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction is a collection of critical essays by American writer Damon Knight. Most of the material in the original version of the book was originally published between 1952 and 1955 in various science fiction magazines including Infinity Science Fiction, Original SF Stories, and Future SF. The essays were highly influential, and contributed to Knight's stature as the foremost critic of science fiction of his generation. The book also constitutes an informal record of the "Boom Years" of science fiction from 1950-1955.

History of US science fiction and fantasy magazines to 1950 Science-fiction and fantasy magazine history

Science-fiction and fantasy magazines began to be published in the United States in the 1920s. Stories with science-fiction themes had been appearing for decades in pulp magazines such as Argosy, but there were no magazines that specialized in a single genre until 1915, when Street & Smith, one of the major pulp publishers, brought out Detective Story Magazine. The first magazine to focus solely on fantasy and horror was Weird Tales, which was launched in 1923, and established itself as the leading weird fiction magazine over the next two decades; writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard became regular contributors. In 1926 Weird Tales was joined by Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback; Amazing printed only science fiction, and no fantasy. Gernsback included a letter column in Amazing Stories, and this led to the creation of organized science-fiction fandom, as fans contacted each other using the addresses published with the letters. Gernsback wanted the fiction he printed to be scientifically accurate, and educational, as well as entertaining, but found it difficult to obtain stories that met his goals; he printed "The Moon Pool" by Abraham Merritt in 1927, despite it being completely unscientific. Gernsback lost control of Amazing Stories in 1929, but quickly started several new magazines. Wonder Stories, one of Gernsback's titles, was edited by David Lasser, who worked to improve the quality of the fiction he received. Another early competitor was Astounding Stories of Super-Science, which appeared in 1930, edited by Harry Bates, but Bates printed only the most basic adventure stories with minimal scientific content, and little of the material from his era is now remembered.

<i>The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 3</i>

The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 3 is an anthology of science fiction short works edited by Frederik Pohl. It was first published in hardcover by Tor Books in June 2001, and in trade paperback by the same publisher in April 2002. It has been translated into Italian.

Black Destroyer short story by A. E. van Vogt

"Black Destroyer" is a science fiction short story by Canadian-American writer A. E. van Vogt, first published in Astounding SF in July 1939. It has been marked as the story that represents the start of the Golden Age of Science Fiction.


  1. "Although [van Vogt] catered for the pulps, he intensified the emotional impact and complexity of the stories they would bear". Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter, eds. (1995). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 1268. ISBN   978-0-312-13486-0.
  2. 1 2 3 Panshin, Alexei "Man Beyond Man. The Early Stories of A. E. van Vogt" (page 1). Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  3. "To Be His Keeper by A.E. van Vogt - Sevagram". www.icshi.net.
  4. Elliot, Jeffery: "An Interview with A. E. Van Vogt", Science Fiction Review #23, 1977. Available online http://www.angelfire.com/art/megathink/vanvogt/vanvogt_interview.html Retrieved on August 29, 2010
  5. Drake, H. L., A. E. van Vogt: Science Fantasy's Icon, Booklocker.com Inc., 2001, page 36.
  6. "The Voyage of the Space Beagle" (cover images for numerous editions and adaptations of "The Black Destroyer" and its series). The Weird Worlds of A. E. van Vogt. Magnus Axelsson (pre-2000 to 2009). Now hosted by icshi.net. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 4 A. E. van Vogt at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved April 4, 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  8. Panshin, Alexei (1994). "Introduction to Slan". Connecticut: The Easton Press.
    Quote: "His first published SF story was "Black Destroyer" in the July 1939 Astounding. Not only was "Black Destroyer" pictured on the cover of the magazine, but it would be recognized as one of the most significant stories published in Astounding that year".
  9. 1 2 Asimov, Isaac (1972). The early Asimov; or, Eleven years of trying. Garden City NY: Doubleday. pp. 79–82.
  10. For example, Peter Nicholls ( Clute, John; Nicholls, Peter, eds. (1993). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc. p. 199. ISBN   978-0-312-09618-2.) says "The beginning of Campbell's particular Golden Age of SF can be pinpointed as the summer of 1939" and goes on to begin the discussion with the July 1939 issue. Lester del Rey ( del Rey, Lester (1979). The World of Science Fiction and Fantasy: The History of a Subculture. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 94. ISBN   978-0-345-25452-8.) comments that "July was the turning point".
  11. Comment, Full (September 11, 2012). "A.E. van Vogt: A home-grown science-fiction king - National Post".
  12. "A.E. van Vogt Interviewed by Robert Weinberg (1980) - Sevagram". www.icshi.net.
  13. 1 2 Platt, Charles, "A. E. van Vogt – A Profile". From Who Writes Science Fiction? (London: Savoy Books, 1980); Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction (Berkeley Books, 1980).
  14. 1 2 Knight, Damon (1967). In Search of Wonder. Chicago: Advent.
  15. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?56655 Retrieved 10 March 2017
  16. 1 2 3 Drake, Harold L. (1989). The Null-A Worlds of A. E. van Vogt. C. Drumm Books. ISBN   093605543X.
  17. "THE VIOLENT MAN by A.A. Van Vogt" via www.kirkusreviews.com.
  18. Ketterer 1992, p. 47.
  19. Decker 2016, p. 31.
  20. Van Vogt, A E (1970). Introduction to The World Of Null-A (London: Sphere Science Fiction, 1976), p. viii
  21. "Notes, Reports, and Correspondence: Spring 1974" . Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  22. Latham, Rob (2009). "Fiction, 1950-1963". In Bould, Mark; Butler, Andrew M.; Roberts, Adam; Vint, Sherryl (eds.). The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. Routledge. pp. 80–89. ISBN   9781135228361.
  23. "Vertex Interviews Philip K. Dick" Archived October 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine . Vertex , Vol. 1, no. 6, February 1974.
  24. DiFilippo, Paul: "Off The Shelf". Retrieved January 19, 2003. Archived April 3, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  25. Campbell, John W. (1991). The John W. Campbell Letters With Isaac Asimov and A. E. van Vogt. 2. A.C.Projects. ISBN   978-0-931150-19-7.
  26. 1 2 Ellison, Harlan (June 1999), "Van is Here, But Van is Gone". Introduction to Futures Past: The Best Short Fiction of A. E. van Vogt (Kilimanjaro Corp., 1999). Reprinted in "A. E. van Vogt, 1912–2000" (SFRevu 2001-01-28). Retrieved 2001-08-31.
    Quote: "Van is still with us, as I write this, in June of 1999, slightly less than fifty years since I first encountered van Vogt prose in a January 1950 issue of Startling Stories ..."
  27. Hartwell, David G. (June 1, 1984). Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science. Washington Ave Books Incorporated. pp. 131–32. ISBN   978-0-89366-163-2.
  28. Fiedler, Leslie A. (August 1, 1983). Slusser, George Edgar; Rabkin, Eric S.; Scholes, Robert E. (eds.). Coordinates: placing science fiction and fantasy. Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN   978-0-8093-1105-7.
  29. Jameson, Fredric. "The Space of Science Fiction: Narrative in Van Vogt", Archaeologies of the Future. The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (New York: Verso, 2005).
  30. Schweitzer, Darrell (1999), "Letters of Comment", The New York Review of Science Fiction, May 1999, Number 129, Vol. 11, No. 9.
  31. 1 2 3 4 "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master" Archived July 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  32. 1 2 3 "van Vogt, A. E." Archived October 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine . The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index to Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  33. 1 2 "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived May 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine . Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved March 25, 2013. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.
  34. Beetz, Kirk H. (1996). Encyclopedia of popular fiction. Beacham Pub. ISBN   978-0-933833-38-8.
  35. Mullin, Dennis (October 27, 2007). "Prix AURORA Awards". Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
  36. Sawyer, Robert J. "Remembering A. E. van Vogt". Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  37. Hartwell, David: "The Way We Were: A. E. van Vogt, 1912-2000", The New York Review of Science Fiction , March 2000, Number 139, Vol. 12, No. 7, page 24.
  38. Watson, Ian (1999), "Science Fiction, Surrealism, and Shamanism", The New York Review of Science Fiction, June 1999, Number 130, Vol. 11, No. 10, page 9.
  39. À la poursuite des Slans, A. E. Van Vogt, Editions J'ai Lu, 31, rue de Tournon, Paris-VIe, 1973
  40. Dubé, Denis. "Plot Summary: To Conquer Kiber by A.E. van Vogt". Sevagram. Retrieved June 12, 2016.