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Slan (Slan #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,914 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
Jommy Cross is a slan, a genetically bred superhuman whose race was created to aid humanity but is now despised by "normal" humans. Slans are usually shot on sight, but that doesn't stop Jommy's mother from bringing him to see the world capital of Centropolis, the seat of power for Earth's dictator, Kier Gray. But on their latest trip to Centropolis, the two slans are disc ...more
Hardcover, #2145, 176 pages
Published March 1978 by Nelson Doubleday / SFBC (first published 1940)
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Jim
Oct 13, 2015 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked van Vogt when I was younger & it's only been a few years since I read The Voyage of the Space Beagle which I gave 3 stars. I've heard this held up to be one of his better books, but never got around to it. He writes space opera, which has some almost magical fixing & plenty of convenience to the plot, but it's fun. This wasn't.

The biggest problem was that he tried to cover too much territory in too short a time. From evolution to revolution, racism, mob psychology, fantas
...more
Stephen
1.5 to 2.0 stars. While certainly an important "classic" science fiction story and worth while for gaining an understanding of the evolution of the science ficiton novel featuring the "superhuman" I did not really enjoy the novel. I am glad I read it and it was in the neighborhood of okay, but can not recommend it.
J.G. Keely
In Slan, Van Vogt (say: 'vote') combines a number of popular sci fi themes, some intriguing, others silly, to create a work that is interesting and influential, if sometimes ill-conceived.

The political tone of the work, focused on dictators, secret police, and shadowy struggles for power mark this as one of the earlier Dystopian works. Slan is a decade before 1984, though Brave New World and It Can't Happen Here are earlier.

Van Vogt's Dystopia is much more fantastical than most of the genre, rel
...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
Golden Age Science Fiction goodness. I can see from other reviews that not everybody enjoyed this, but I really enjoy Van Vogt, his stories tend to twist and turn and venture off into unexpected territory. The logical next step is almost never what happens. Slan has had a massive influence on the genre, as seen in Marvel Comics' X-men and the writings of Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Slan actually deals with a rather complicated theme, but in an almost simplistic fashion ...more
Scott
Jan 18, 2009 Scott rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(Going on memory here but I just wanted to put my thoughts down before I gave this book away.)

This book is an expansion of an earlier short story/novella that Van Vogt published in one of the famous sci-fi mags of the early 20th century. I don't know how much revision there was or how much time elapsed between each version but to me it felt apparent at about the half-way point, where there's a break of several years. I'd enjoyed the first half, with the young protagonist on the run and discoveri
...more
Simon
May 11, 2015 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I love these old SF classics that are jammed full of ideas, action and vision. This is no exception. Paper thin characters and light on world building it may be but one can't help forgiving it because of it's fast pace and brevity. This is full of Van Vogt's far fetched notions and mind bending plot developments that one will have come to expect if one has read any of his other works.

My main disappointment was the suddenness of the ending which left the story feeling unfinished. There being no p
...more
Luke Devenish
Dec 13, 2011 Luke Devenish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huzzah! Let's toss our tendrils with glee - I've just read my first ever mutant/super-race novel. This is also my first sampling of Mr Von Vogt. (It won't be my last.) Do you know, if you squint your eyes ever-so-slightly while reading this story, you could almost believe it was the X-Men? Me thinks that little franchise owes a big debt of gratitude to Slan - something I've not yet bothered to confirm, but who knows, perhaps I'm right? In my current born-again-newbie's excursion through the worl ...more
Rob
Dec 13, 2011 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The concept of this book is 'old hat,' but, of course, that's now, nearly seventy years later. I see the legacy of Slan in many books and films I've read, and the main fear of the humans, being superseded by a genetically engineered race, the Slan, is one that lurches ever closer to our reality, now.

The main thing I dislike about the book is the dialogue. Too often even some of the humans sound all too much like Star Trek's Data imitating Spock. I suppose this is meant, especially for the Slan,
...more
Jared Millet
I've read lots of classic SF, but now, at last, I've found the missing link between Isaac Asimov and E.E. Smith, the transition stage between thoughtful, character driven science fiction and the Atomic! Age! of Super! Science! Van Vogt's prose is just far enough on the clunky side of pulp to make it jarring to modern ears, but the main thing that might hold a modern reader back from this book is that so many of the ideas Vogt introduces have since passed into the realm of cliche. If you put the ...more
Jeff
Aug 09, 2016 Jeff rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
[written in my book lover's journal; possibly a couple months after reading it]
Aghast that people acclaim Van Vogt at all, in any way, even a little bit. "Jommy"?! for fvck's sake "Vee Vee," think of something that actually smacks of a futurity -- the 1950s in 2100 and to write an entire book as if not ONE of the true Slans would vary from all others and not ONE human would, that implies that they can NOT. This opinion of sentient beings annoys me more than any other i can think of presently.
[10
...more
Gregory
As I say in my Goodreads "about me" section, this was one of the first Sci-Fi novels I ever read. It made a strong impact on me as I was in high school and hadn't read an adult novel before. I still recall the emotional intensity that follows the main character and there was a theme of prejudice and subjugation running through it as humanity breaks down into humans and genetically created Slans (some with tendrils and some without). I intend on acquiring a copy one of these days and re-reading i ...more
Soorya
Jul 02, 2016 Soorya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Van Vogt liked plot twists so much that he followed a rule of 1 twist every 800 words (I’m not kidding) in everything he wrote. As a result, Slan is a frenetic, jam-packed read that moves at a breakneck pace. Written in 1940, it’s about a race of telepathic mutants called slans who are relentlessly persecuted by humans. It clearly inspired the X-Men and many others.

Alas, it’s very dated in some ways. The dialogue is really unnatural - it feels like every character has a teleprompter attached - a
...more
Viridian5
Aug 26, 2009 Viridian5 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: science-fiction
Today I finished Slan by A.E.van Vogt and hated it. I just finished it as a personal pride thing. I think there were maybe 10 fiction books in my entire life I absolutely couldn't stand to finish.

It's considered one of the classics of science fiction, originally published in 1940, thought to be an inspiration for The X-Men, but even if I try to set my modernity aside it sucks. It has cardboard characters I took no interest in or liking to, a truly useless ingenue, mutants who aren't all that dif
...more
Steven
Feb 23, 2010 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I don't like human beings. I don't like you.” There's a reason why this author is considered legendary. I had the opportunity to read his other SF classic, The World of Null-A, last year, and found the same misleading plot, underdog characters, and massive scope. Of course, something isn't adding up if a far-future society still feels like the mid-40's, but prognostication to the last detail isn't the sole goal of speculative fiction. I can't help but feeling that if more present-day writers co ...more
Dave
May 05, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Slan" is A. E. van Vogt's first novel. It was published in book form in 1946 by Arkham House, but the story originally appeared in the pages of Astounding Magazine in 1940. It was a highly rated classic of Science Fiction for more than 25 years after it originally appeared, but today it is often forgotten along with many of the early classics. In 1949 it was tied for 4th on the Arkham Survey of 'Basic SF Titles'. It ranked 2nd on the Astounding/Analog All-Time Poll in 1952, 5th, in 1956, and 3r ...more
Harold Ogle
Slan is classic space opera, with many of the trappings of Smith's Lensman series: atomic energy, disintegrator weapons, laconically logical protagonists, fast action, nearly effortless interplanetary travel, creatures with domineering psychic powers..

I was struck, reading this, how one of my favorite books, Moran's The Long Run, is largely an homage (if not an actual retelling) of this novel. Slan doesn't have the time travel, but a lot of the other details are strikingly similar. (view spoiler
...more
Jon
3 stars

Some of the tech doesn't hold up well (obviously) after 75 plus years. Well, the lack of advancement of the technology is disappointing. But the story itself moves along quite well. The ending is full of exposition and an eye-rolling Hollywood ending, but it was a fast and fun read.

Slan is nominated for Best Novel (1941 Retro Hugo Awards).
Kevin J Mackey
Jul 24, 2011 Kevin J Mackey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have a few books in my "must-read classic Science Fiction" groupings - this is the #1. It may well be my favorite science fiction book.

The science in the book, given it was written in 1940, may now be dated. The storytelling isn't. When I first read it, I enjoyed that so much of the action had already taken place. We, the readers are - as were the main characters - left struggling with the aftermath. Even in my teens I believed this was a worthy way to tell a story. The reader is, along with
...more
Bookwatcher
A.E. van Vogt is a genius.

1940... This book was published in 1940 and couldn't be more actual
a lone man fighting for peace... No, not a man, a Slan.
In a world were humans kill Slans for their powers (or should I say super powers? It's really look like a super hero story), Jommy, a true Slan, will fight for survive. From 9 years old to the age a Slan became adult Jommy will discover a lot, and also suffer a lot.
Peace and acceptance of differences... The only goals of Jommy Cross.
And again I say
...more
Neil Sato
Jun 12, 2012 Neil Sato rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each chapter was different than the pre-ceeding. The character development was visceral, real, it was as if it wasn't third person; like I could see from the eyes of the character. This is one of the few books I have ever read that creates a sense of emotional connection with the events occurring where there is an urgency of reading everything. The plot twists are hard to see coming and seems completely random yet the story flows.

Finishing reading this book was the biggest disappointment because
...more
Kenneth
Jul 20, 2014 Kenneth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this more given its status in the pantheon of classic science fiction, but I could barely managed to apply "2 stars".
There are flashes or moments of sci-fi nerdery that save this from just being confused mess of pulp hackery. Plot threads and characters are lost carelessly and the timeline jumps without warning to the detriment of both.
Read it for the history, appreciating its contribution to the genre, but don't expect too much from the story.
Carolyn
Dec 29, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I checked Slan out of the library as a teenager. I loved it and bought my own copy a few years later and reread it several times while in my twenties. I read hundreds of books since - most I don't remember at all. But I can still easily bring back the world of Slan and feel the terror of the young protagonist. That makes it a classic, as far as I'm concerned.
Chuck Leduc
I picked up A. E. Van Vogt's Slan at the library. Classic scifi can be fun, and although it did keep me engaged, man this was bad. Since it was his first novel I guess I should cut him a break, but his narrative style was just terrible... he produced some of the most stilted prose imaginable: this guy was to smooth narrative as Jack Kirby was to life drawing.


And all through one almost endless week a snug-fitting, leech-shaped metal monstrosity hugged inch by inch over the surface of the ship, s
...more
Quinn
Apr 07, 2012 Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's dated now, sure it is, but when I read it, I was just a kid and it was a great influence on me. As a bright kid growing up in Deliverance where an IQ over 80 is seen as suspect, it was easy for me to identify with Jommy Cross, who thought himself the only Slan left.

My father was an avid reader of Science Fiction in his teens and twenties and our house had a whole bookcase full of editions of Astounding (later Analog) Science Fiction. And so, in 1967, I read this in a 27 year old edition of
...more
Roddy Williams
Classic Pulp Fiction from one of the masters of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I have to confess that ‘Slan’ has to be my all-time favourite Science Fiction novel if only for the fact that it is probably the one book which got me hooked on SF back in the early Nineteen Seventies.
AE Van Vogt, partly due to the quality of his later work and his involvement with Dianetics and the Scientology movement was, to a certain extent discredited by the SF community. Thus he was never really given the c
...more
James
Sep 17, 2011 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
In one of his most successful science fiction novels, Van Vogt has imagined a race called Slans as evolved humans, named after their alleged creator, Samuel Lann. They have the psychic abilities to read minds and are super-intelligent. They possess near limitless stamina, "nerves of steel," and superior strength and speed. When Slans are ill or seriously injured, they go into a healing trance automatically. Thus they are yet another variation on the "super man" that so appealed to Van Vogt and i ...more
Meh
May 20, 2008 Meh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. For a 1951 publication, this book is intense. Yes, the science is pretty laughable. But everything else about it is pretty cool. It's about these superpeople, or slans, that live amongst the humans. They are incredibly strong, fast, smart, and they can read minds. Humans hate them and are always trying to kill them. The main character is an orphan, both his parents killed by humans. He lives on alone, inventing awesome stuff, hiding from a different race of slans that can't read minds. The ...more
Dan Quigley
Three stars is a generous rating. It should be more like 2.7 if we went to the tenth. I wanted to like this work. It starts out well, gets a bit dull for a long stretch, but then the girl meets the protagonist and the story reaches a really exciting high point two thirds of the way through. Then suddenly from nowhere complete disaster strikes the story. It was like van Vogt knew what he ought to do, which is show his two protagonists teaming up to accomplish their goal, but then Van Vogt must ha ...more
Robin
Mar 29, 2015 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The last time I read this book, I was 10 years old, but what stuck with me was the concept that there were people being hunted down because they were different.

While science fiction of that day, generally has glaring flaws because, now, we know more than we did then, so I'm not going to complain about those. I am looking at the societal aspects of this book in regard to how majorities treat minorities. Here is where Slan is most interesting.

To avoid too much in the way of spoilers, I'm being a
...more
Norman Cook
The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction (September – December 1940). It was subsequently published in hardcover in 1946 by Arkham House.
Slans are a race of mutant superbeings with telepathic powers, a favorite subject of Astounding's editor John W. Campbell Jr.
There are two kinds of Slans. One has golden tendrils. The other type is tendrilless. I found it hard to keep these two types apart, and what their respective motives were. The first half of the book
...more
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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
More about A.E. van Vogt...

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Slan (2 books)
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