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The World of Null-A (Null-A #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,864 ratings  ·  128 reviews
The classic novel of non-Aristotelian logic and the coming race of supermen

Science Fiction Grandmaster A. E. van Vogt was one of the giants of the 1940s, the Golden Age of classic SF. Of his masterpieces, The World of Null-A is his most famous and most influential. Published in 1949 it was the first major trade SF hardcover, and has been in print in various editions ever s
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1971 by Sphere (first published 1945)
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An extremely strange occurrence. Many years ago, when I was in my early teens, I read A.E. van Vogt's World of Null-A, which is about as good as most of A.E. van Vogt's oeuvre - that is to say, not very good at all. I was however struck by his preface, where he boasted that this novel, all by itself, had more or less established the French SF market. Even at age 14, I was puzzled. Why?

Much later, I discovered that van Vogt's unimpressive book had in fact been translated by Boris Vian, author of
4.0 stars. One of the better novels by A. E. Van Vogt and certainly one of his most famous. Big ideas, cool concepts and a fast paced plot. Above average science fiction from the Golden Age.

Nominee: Retro Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction novel.
The book brings back to me the 1950s. Names like Eldred Crang and Hari Seldon (this from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series), Intergalactic wars. Highly advanced devices with tubes like an old Emerson TV set. Planets in our solar system that could sustain life. Take, for instance, this description of Venus:
Gosseyn said, "Doctor, what is Venus like -- the cities, I mean?"

The doctor rolled his head sideways to look at Gosseyn, but did not move his body.

"Oh, much like earth cities, but suited to the
Continuing this year in my exploration of classic SF I thought I would take a look at a famous novel by van Vogt. It turns out that van Vogt was a Canadian from a Mennonite community in Manitoba. He was an amazingly prolific author who moved to LA right after the war. There he became quite interested in the concepts of General Semantics or non-Aristotelian logic (Null-A). I'm no logician but from what I understand Aristotelian logic assumes binary states for a statement (e.g. The dog is a collie ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Science fiction writer A. E. van Vogt liked big ideas. In the 1950's he became head of fellow sf writer L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics Institute, the secular precursor to the Church of Scientology. When Hubbard's institute failed within a year, van Vogt and his wife formed their own institute and kept it going for the entire decade.

Earlier, the big idea that captivated van Vogt was the Gerneral Semantics program of the Polish count Alfred Korzybski, a program defined in the count's 800 page self - p
An extremely strange occurrence. Many years ago, when I was in my early teens, I read A.E. van Vogt's World of Null-A, which is about as good as most of A.E. van Vogt's oeuvre - that is to say, not very good at all. I was however struck by his preface, where he boasted that this novel, all by itself, had more or less established the French SF market. Even at age 14, I was puzzled. Why?

Much later, I discovered that van Vogt's unimpressive book had in fact been translated by Boris Vian, author of
Intanto, mi aspettavo un'altra cosa. Il libro si svolge in un mondo dove non funziona il pensiero aristotelico, sentivo dire. E dal titolo, Non-A, mi stavo appunto attendendo una fantasia su una realtà in cui non vige necessariamente il principio di non contraddizione. Se si parla di Aristotele, è a questo che si pensa, no?
Una stuzzicante fantasia logica e cerebrale per giocare, per provare a far ballare un po' di pilastri prestabiliti.
E invece a Van Vogt non interessa seminare troppi dubbi, ma
I read this one for an SF reading group I'm in, and didn't particularly enjoy it and will probably not read van Vogt again. Sure, it's a fun, crazy ride - but I don't take much away from it. The writing is unremarkable. The misogyny is tired. The unknowable characters are just ridiculous by the end. I recommend this one for true SF nerds only.

I've seen a lot of complaints about the incomprehensible plot: but in some ways I feel that's intensional (and maybe the one thing I enjoy about this book)
I've read this three times now. Everytime I do, it feels like I'm reading it for the first time. So weird. But the thing is that I really like it. It is such a strange book; like reading a standard from a parallel universe. "Is this what a great novel is like in your world?" In mine it's all wrong; sloppy disjointed, illogical, but if you put yourself in that other world: van's world, it is a master piece of scifi literature.

I love this novel. I really do. And Players of Null-A (the sequel) is e
Andrew Perron
Tell me if this sounds like a modern-day young adult novel:

In the City of the Machine, the Games take place. For a month, there are no laws and no police, as the participants in the Games make their way through dozens of tests of their mental abilities. Success in the Games unlocks a good life. Those who make it through the first week are guaranteed well-paying jobs, and the further you go, the better it gets. But only the winners get the ultimate prize - going to the mysterious planet Venus.

Right from the outset this is a mind-bending, roller coaster ride of twists and turns. Don't expect detailed world building and character development, that is not what Van Vogt is all about. He is instead concerned with exploring his crazy ideas and plot twists.

In the opening chapter we discover that the protagonist, Gilbert Gosseyn, is not who he thinks he is as his memories are proven false. Gosseyn (and the reader) are then thrown into a state of confusion which lasts throughout the book. A l
The World of Null-A is a mixed bag. All too frequently I found myself having to stop and re-read sections to figure out basic plot points (and this was generally because of a basic lack of clarity in key scenes, not because of a particularly advanced concept) and found it difficult to integrate the two major drives of the book, one toward political thriller regarding interplanetary and galactic war and one toward speculation about human and social evolution.

These two drives are definitely relat
Oddly, there's a cover quote from The New Yorker on this edition--"Fine for addicts of science fiction". This is not actually an endorsement or compliment.

At some point of this rocket-powered sled ride I started wondering: would a background in (van Vogt's version of) General Semantics make this novel more comprehensible? The characters, and indeed most of the story, doesn't seem to make conventional sense, and things sort of happen because they need to push Gosseyn into the events of the next c
[from my book lover's journal; review probably written a month or two after reading]
I thought, "Maybe it was just Slan that sucked; it was his first book after all." But it wasn't—in my opinion Van Vogt sucks. Some dude at an online SF site claimed that VeeVee's "stories don't seem to have any logic, but somehow they work"—i give that reviewer half credit because not only do the stories seem to have no logic, they actually don't have any logic. Unless you think that the need for action is a suff
This book really seems to polarise peoples opinions of it. I found it after seeing it discussed online as one of the most important 20th century scifi books. This book and its author inspired some of the greatest scifi writers of the 2nd half of last century, notably Philip K. Dick.

Although the technology ideas in the book are now extremely dated, the overall story is fascinating and I found myself glued to it.
The writing style can be confusing and the author doesn't bother to explain every de
Mulle e istu eriti seda tüüpi ülesehitusega raamatud, kus peategelane ei saa alguses mitte millestki aru, siis satub järjest pöörasematesse olukordadesse ja lõpuks selgub, kuidas asjad tegelikult on. Ulme pool pani lihtsalt õlgu kehitama.
The quality of the ideas far exceeds the plot--a world in the far future governed non-Aristotelian logic (not really explained, but hinted at with phrases like "the word is not the thing, the map is not the territory") and a Games Machine. But these ideas are not developed, instead some fellow who doesn't know who he is has to battle an intergalactic gang trying to destroy this null-A paradise. I was given little reason to care, and only gave the book the second star because the germ at the begi ...more
Nuno Magalhães
Aug 12, 2013 Nuno Magalhães rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ATENÇÃO: EVITAR A TODO O CUSTO!
Péssima experiência. Este livro é horrível: uma história completamente descabida, cheia de incongruências e frases sem sentido - um autêntico atentado ao leitor que tenta retirar algum senso do que está escrito, e que faz um esforço sobre-humano para chegar até ao final na vâ esperança de encontrar alguma substância. É um engano: trata-se de um livro de fugir! Uma pura perda de tempo; dá mesmo a impressão de ter sido escrito num estado de alucinação. Este é um autor a evitar a qualquer custo.
unremarkable Some ideas in it were nice, like the Games Machine. Especially the use of non-Aristotelian logic, which gives the novel its title.

However there are many aspects which put me off. First of all the plot.. it seemed rather bad: there are some minor contradictions, entities are sometimes introduced by just naming them and sometimes conflict is resolved by some random gadget.

Everything was explained when I read in the preface of the book (different edition than the one I shared) that in
A whirlwind of a read. I read this on the recommendation of a friend, and because of a superb short story by van Vogt called "The Weapons Shop." It illustrates very well the price an author pays for writing a true page-turner. The action never lets up in The World of Null-A, but Van Vogt's penchant for cliffhangers at the end of each chapter obstruct the achievement of a cohesive structure with which to effectively dramatize the very interesting ideas he's exploring.
Matteo Pellegrini
Chi è Gilbert Gosseyn? Un uomo cui è morta la moglie? Un agente segreto? Un grande capo? Una semplice pedina in una gigantesca partita a scacchi? Lui stesso non lo sa, e la sua lunga, drammatica ricerca è il filo che lega gli episodi di questo romanzo, tra i grandi classici della fantascienza. Come in una scatola cinese, l’enigma che pesa sul protagonista si apre su altri enigmi sempre più stupefacenti, in un complesso, perfetto congegno narrativo dove si fondono magistralmente suspense e filos
1981 grade A-

Series book NA1
Recently I have made an effort to read old stuff that has been rotting in my book shelves for decades. This is the second book from A.E. van Vogh that I picked up. As with the first one, I could not read this to the end because it was so bad.
Though there is some talk about a new philosophy movement Null-A, it is an action-oriented novel. The problem is, that the action sucks. Its all over the place. When I try to remember what happened until the moment I broke off, it becomes more and more appar
Ike Oglesby
This is the book that hooked me on Sci-Fi. I was enthralled and fascinated by the cover (Ace paperbacks), the characters, the plot and, most importantly, by the ideas of science fiction. I have been reading them ever since. Thanks Mr Van vogt.
This book lead me to Alfred Korzybski, "Science and Sanity" very inspiring example of how science fiction can change the course of a young persons life.
Aaron Bellamy
The World of Null-a is a fascinating and strange book. The style is somewhat matter of fact, very much in line with its many contemporary pulp bretheren. The main character, Gosseyn, doesn't really drive the story so much as the story just happens to him. He almost comes across as a kind of Mr. Magoo character, stumbling around in a world that he believes to understand, but doens't. But there is a delightful quality to the dangers and adventures he happens through. I found myself feeling a sense ...more
David F
I can tell how this guy was a big influence on Philip K. Dick, but the bizareness of his ideas is upstaged by the lack of his skill in storytelling.
Yvon Decelles
Great classic. I originally read-it an integral french translation more than 30 years ago (wow, has it been that long already!?). Anyway, some of the subtext was lost in translation and it was fun to read again. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

As most Van Vogt book that i've read the story is interesting (but i would not say captivating) and the characters are mostly under develop (especially in the later part of the series) but still, it's a book that brings some interesti
David Johnston
Reads about as well as you expect from a book where the premise is that logic is a force for evil.
Sep 29, 2014 Steve marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Not to be confused with The World of Null-A-is-A.
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Alfred Elton van Vogt was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded by some as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century—the "Golden Age" of the genre.

van Vogt was born to Russian Mennonite family. Until he was four years old, van Vogt and his family spoke only a dialect of Low German in the home.

He began his writing career with 'true story' ro
More about A.E. van Vogt...

Other Books in the Series

Null-A (3 books)
  • The Players of Null-A
  • Null-A Three

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“And the more technically developed a nation or race is, the more cruel, ruthless, predatory, and commercialized its systems tend to become … all because we continue to think like animals and have not learned how to think consistently like human beings. A. K.” 1 likes
“Era bueno saberlo. Las explicaciones despejaban la mente, eliminaban tensiones del sistema nervioso y liberaban al cuerpo de la servidumbre de las excitaciones negativas, permitiéndole una actividad más positiva.” 1 likes
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