Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Voyage of the Space Beagle” as Want to Read:
The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Voyage of the Space Beagle

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,451 ratings  ·  196 reviews
*On and on Coeurl prowled.*
So began Van Vogt's first published story, and so begins this novel. The saga of the Space Beagle, mankind's first effort to reach another galaxy. And what strange life-forms are encountered!
Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1963 by Macfadden-Bartell (first published 1950)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Voyage of the Space Beagle, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mangiare Rigatoni From Wiki article on Voyage: At first glance, the alien Ixtl also appears to be an inspiration for the film Alien, though those involved with the film…moreFrom Wiki article on Voyage: At first glance, the alien Ixtl also appears to be an inspiration for the film Alien, though those involved with the film denied any influence on its part. Van Vogt initiated a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox for plagiarism, but the case was settled out of court, the details of which were never disclosed.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,451 ratings  ·  196 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Voyage of the Space Beagle
I read quite a few van Vogt books as a teenager. I remember saving up my pocket money, getting a 2/6 postal order and sending for the next book I wanted from Panther books from their list of books in the back of the book I had just read. The excitement of waiting for the next van Vogt (or Doc Smith or Asimov) to arrive was stupendous.
Anyway this was one of the books I'm sure I read during those halcyon days of sunshine, hours to read and endless time ahead.

This book has a typical van Vogt feel a
Dirk Grobbelaar
An exploration vessel with a crew complement of almost one thousand wandering between the stars... cue some music. No, wait a minute, it’s not the Enterprise. It’s the Space Beagle. When was this written then? Well, the individual parts that make up this novel were published between 1939 and 1952. This is quite a famous little novel, even though current opinion about it is somewhat divided. Some of the assumptions in this book are rather naïve, such as allowing a foreign organism into an enclose ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
July2016: I'm rereading this for the "Evolution of Science Fiction" group read here:

The title makes it obvious, but this is an exploration of strange new creatures - not much of strange new worlds, though. Still, I can see the roots of Star Trek. Less obvious is the exploration of a variety of human ideas through a new science called Nexialism, the science of learning many sciences & how to synthesize them. A science that turns out polymaths, I suppose. El
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Space is deadly. Deadly fun!

I see comparisons to Star Trek, which I think hold to some extent. But unlike the Enterprise, the Space Beagle is first and foremost a vessel of scientific research. van Vogt digs deeper than your typical golden age sci-fi adventure pulps, plumbing a wide range of scientific disciplines in dissecting the deadly wonders encountered by the Space Beagle.

I found the narrative, settings and situations the crew gets into very compelling. van Vogt has a flair for creating un
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this undistinguished piece of space opera when I was about 15. I can't say that I was a terribly discerning reader in those days - basically I read any SF I got my hands on, and enjoyed most of it - but there was one episode that managed to shock even my unreflective teenage self. I don't remember all the details, but it went something like this. The eponymous ship is several million light-years from home when it's attacked by a mysterious disembodied entity. It turns out that the aggress ...more
J.G. Keely
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Written in 1939, The Voyage of the Space Beagle reads like the prototype for Star Trek. A multinational crew of scientists and the military embark on a ten-year mission to explore the galaxy, seeking out new aliens and almost being killed by them (they even have 'shields).

Grosvenor, our protagonist, is in many ways reminiscent of Mr. Spock: both are awkward, intelligent men mistrusted by their emotional shipmates because of their cool rationality. He also shares the standard characteristics of V
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: space-opera
Let me see if I understand: these explorers are the product of a galactic civilization, with atomic foundries to transmute base metals into super-substances, the ability to transverse and leave the galaxy itself, to reignite stars and relocate planets...and their interoffice mail system is based on pneumatic tubes?

There's a tremendous subtext at play throughout the entire work. In addition to the obvious fight-the-phenomenally-dangerous-monster plot lines, there are meditations on Oswald Spengle
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
To van Vogt, the universe is a violent place and teaming with life. The Space Beagle is a scientific exploration ship sent out from Earth to go where no man has gone before and study all that it finds. The alien beings that are encountered are invariably hostile or if they aren't their efforts to communicate their friendship inadvertedly cause much harm.

The book has an episodic nature that arises from the fact that it was forged from four seperate short stories that he reworked into one story.

Nandakishore Varma
One of the earliest SF novels I read, even before Asimov. At the time, I felt it was fantastic. However, the sheen has reduced over the years.

This book is an episodic novel, based on the spaceship "Space Beagle"'s journey of exploration (maybe inspired by Darwin and the H.M.S. Beagle), and deals with many exotic species (I remember one living in empty space). But my clearest memory is about "Nexialism", where knowledge from one area of expertise is used in another area, a sort of "stringing-toge
7 December 2009 - ***. Imagine a 1000-man starship, whose five year mission in space is discover strange new worlds, seek out new life, to boldly go where no man has gone before. On board are a collection of scientists organized by department - among them a single Nexianist, whose science is the interconnection of all sciences, and whose singularly logical thinking saves the ship and crew from strange aliens and psychic threats. No, not the Enterprise, but the Space Beagle. This is a fix-up of f ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I always hate to write about these venerable SF classics, because very frequently I end up being disappointed by them. I know that I can't hold genre fiction from the 1950's up to the same standards as current-day genre fiction, but...

Well, hold on. Actually, I can and I am. Maybe I just feel guilty about pointing out the various flaws, especially because back in the day, this was cutting-edge stuff. Sure, it's filled with cardboard characters (almost all male of course) that either talk about
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I have just started reading old, classic science fiction. I have an old pretty well beat up 1970 version (so old that it still has an ad for Kent cigarettes in the middle of it). I also have a thing for really cool sci-fi cover art, so when I'm buying these things, I look for the cover art to see if it's entertaining. I was surprised to find out, was very likely the basis for one of my favorite movies ever, Alien. It is divided up into four stories, all of them tied together by the fact that the ...more
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, reread
Lest we think of ourselves as too sophisticated and pooh-pooh out of hand some old (1950) science fiction with a somewhat clunky name, perhaps we should reconsider. A.E. van Vogt's The Voyage of the Space Beagle is a collection of four short stories cobbled together. From this unlikely source came the idea for Gene Roddenberry’s "Star Trek" and all its spin-offs and movies. From the third story came the idea for the movie Alien.

You remember the words that started the show: “Space, the final fron
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Voyage of the Space Beagle" ("VOSB") is one of the seminal works of early "hard" science fiction by this master. Although the "science" in the work might be considered "quaint," by today's standards, its influence on the genre and later television and film can't be understated. One of the aliens - named Coeurl - even shows up in a couple of video game. Such is the impact of this book.

VSOB is really a compilation of four related, not-so-short stories - 3 written in 1939 and 1 written in 1943 an
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Fun! I mean, look at that name!

It's 4 short-stories with the same main character and the same spaceship woven into one book. The main guy seems to be the proto-Spock - a guy trained in a new science called Nexialism, some kind of "all-sciences-into-one" with hints of individualism/libertarianism with a healthy dose of what science-fiction in the 50s was like (electronic telepathy, mind-controlling, funky big machines etc).

Each story is about the crew encountering an unknown, but superior alien o
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
For a group read, Evolution of SF:

Ok I've finally read this. The ideas are nifty. The writing improves over the course of the four 'episodes.' Darwin learned more from his creatures than these men do, and *Star Trek* has a lot more heart & wisdom & diversity. At least it's better, imo, than *Foundation* in its exploration of cyclic history and esp-ish forces than Asimov's 'psychohistory.' Basically it's unrecommendable outside this group though... so dated and so wrong... and mostly just adventu
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Back in the pulp science fiction age, authors were restricted to writing short stories for specialist magazines at modest rates. A. E. van Vogt wrote many of these cheap stories, four of which eventually came to be in this novel:

Black Destroyer (July 1939) [Astounding Science Fiction] My rating: 4.5 (Chapters 1-6)
Discord in Scarlet (December 1939) [Astounding Science Fiction] My rating: 3.5 (Chapters 13-21)
M 33 in Andromeda (August 1943) [Astounding Science Fiction] My rating: 2.5 (Chapters 10-1
Timothy Boyd
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Great classic SiFi. The four adventures of the crew were originally short stories published in digest and rewritten into book form. One of the stories is the basis for the movie Alien and the entire book is obviously the germ of the idea for Star Trek. The Main character is Spock to a large degree. Nice easy and entertaining read. Recommended
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recently, I picked up a book from SciFi author Alfred Bester that made me aware of particular run of what were being termed ‘SciFi Masterworks.’ I did a quick Google search, and – after reviewing the lists of titles and authors that were part of the series – I realized that there were quite a few of them I had either never read or never even heard of. (I’ve mentioned before that I’m not what you would classify as a ‘long-time’ reader; I started reading fairly voraciously about twenty years ago, ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Narrated by Fred Major, this space ship meets alien novel will not make any new SF fans. Borrowed from the National Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci fi fans, van Vogt fans, 20th century historians
Recommended to Michael by: Wayne Barlowe
Shelves: science-fiction
When I was in college, learning about the history of sci fi, I developed a pretty strong prejudice against A.E. van Vogt. He represented the “bad old days” of sci fi, before the New Wave of the 1960s, when everything was hypermasculine, uncritical, optimistic. His work was dismissed with the pejorative “Space Opera” and ignored. In fact, I don’t know that I even read any of it, maybe part of one novel, I can’t recall now. In the years since, I’ve come to be more appreciative of the earlier histo ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a solid example of 1950s science fiction. While I didn't like the fact that four short stories where pasted together ('fix-up novel' apparently is the correct term for these publications), overall it was an entertaining read - I particularly enjoyed the first story (Space Beagle vs Coeurl aka "pussy") and the last one (Space Beagle vs Anabis, the carnivore galaxy). The ones in between I found a bit boring. All stories can be summed up like this:

Grosvenor: "Guys, this alien entity is evil
An interesting and well-done example of American "Golden Age" SF, following the crew of a massive scientific ship, and their encounters with mostly hostile alien creatures. It displays excellent imagination and thoughtful joining of its constituent parts, which I found almost as impressive as the story itself. It's an oddly influential yet simultaneously obscure novel, being held up as a precursor to both Star Trek and Alien, and also leaving its DNA in Dungeons & Dragons and the Final Fantasy s ...more
Jaymee Goh
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
One reads the classics not to be entertained, but to learn the foundations of the genre (an especially important endeavour for those of us whose academic lives revolve around genre). I am rarely entertained by such works--they're rooted in certain assumptions of humanity that can only elicit "a white man totally wrote this" for someone like myself. The protagonist is the Gariest Stu I've read in a while (only because I avoid white male protagonists these days) and while I find Nexialism the conc ...more
James Henderson
One of my favorites among the many novels of Van Vogt I have read is this classic. The story, like that told in The World of Null-A, has as its protagonist a superhero. In this case it is a genius scientist who is a Nexialist (one skilled in the science of joining together in an orderly fashion the knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields). As a Nexialist, Dr. Elliott Grosvenor, is continually endeavoring to unite the disparate, sometimes warring, factions of scientists on th ...more
Charles  van Buren
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Obvious inspiration for Star Trek, June 26, 2016

This review is from: The Voyage of the Space Beagle (Paperback)

I first read Voyage of the Space Beagle in high school and became an immediate and lasting fan of Van Vogt. The stories comprising this book are obviously at least partial inspiration for much that followed - Star Trek; The Thing; Alien; It, The Terror From Beyond Space and numerous books and stories. You should read this classic of golden age scifi and see for yourself. Incidentally, o
Pamela Lloyd
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this when I was still a kid and I loved the fact that the hero was a scientist whose "specialization" was generalization. He was the one who saw the whole picture, instead of just a narrow slice. ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This book had a strong influence on my ideas whilst I was training as a teacher. The early stories are particularly good (one of them could have been a strong contender for being the original "Alien" story). Highly entertaining and full of interesting ideas. ...more
May 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
A story about mad scientists competing for control of The Death Star on an intergalactic mission while being attacked by ghosts and monsters really should have been more entertaining!

Whiz-kid Elliot Grosvenor is the new kid on the block in a huge spherical ship packed with 800 scientists. He's a “Nexialist” which is some kind of hooey about all scientific disciplines thrown together and used by guys who learn wicked-fast through hypnosis and other methods. He's the only Nexialist aboard and t
John Bohnert
The message of this science fiction novel seems to be that mankind should never leave this solar system. I was hoping that a space ship with over 800 scientists, intent on exploring new worlds, was exactly the novel I wanted to read. They encountered great danger over and over. I'm looking for a positive science fiction novel about exploring the stars. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Evolution of ...: July Group Read 2 - The Voyage of the Space Beagle 53 53 Mar 23, 2019 06:50AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Splinter of the Mind's Eye (Star Wars)
  • The Man Who Folded Himself
  • Who Goes There?
  • The Stainless Steel Rat (Stainless Steel Rat, #4)
  • The New Penguin History of The World
  • Spacepaw (Dilbia, #2)
  • What Mad Universe
  • They Shall Have Stars (Cities in Flight, #1)
  • Z for Zachariah
  • Ensign Flandry (Flandry, #1)
  • Great Wall of Mars
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1)
  • The Cold Equations
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • The Fountains of Paradise
  • Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology, #1)
  • Starmaster's Gambit
  • The Chessmen of Mars (Barsoom #5)
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
22 likes · 8 comments
“You assume far too readily that man is a paragon of justice, forgetting, apparently, that he has a long and savage history. He has killed other animals not only for meat but for pleasure; he has enslaved his neighbors, murdered his opponents, and obtained the most unholy sadistical joy from the agony of others. It is not impossible that we shall, in the course of our travels, meet other intelligent creatures far more worthy than man to rule the universe.” 3 likes
More quotes…