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Slan

(Slan #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,514 ratings  ·  370 reviews
In the 1940s, the Golden Age of science fiction flowered in the magazine Astounding. Editor John W. Campbell, Jr., discovered and promoted great new writers such as A.E. van Vogt, whose novel Slan was one of the works of the era.

Slan is the story of Jommy Cross, the orphan mutant outcast from a future society prejudiced against mutants, or slans. Throughout the forties and
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 15th 1998 by Orb Books (first published September 1940)
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Homer Threesixthreetwo The base concepts within are not at all dated, the trappings of the science may be however. Diminishment of the Barsoom novels because the Mars Rover …moreThe base concepts within are not at all dated, the trappings of the science may be however. Diminishment of the Barsoom novels because the Mars Rover has failed to find some signs of Dejah Thoris would be about par with describing SLAN as dated.(less)
Homer Threesixthreetwo The effects of propaganda and other forms of "mass education" manifesting in fears of a superior being supplanting the lesser ones, a failing of perso…moreThe effects of propaganda and other forms of "mass education" manifesting in fears of a superior being supplanting the lesser ones, a failing of persons to forgive the past and look to the ideal rather than the offenses committed for whatever reason in the past.
I attribute the abruptness of the end of the story more to the editorial demands of shortening the story for serialization.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Bradley
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
How do I properly describe a novel that uses (incorrectly) atomic energy, but also addressing the fact that it was published in 1940?

Well, it's been 76 years since it came out, and its and integral part of the Campbellian SF revolution that said that we can have great Science in Science Fiction, but of course our understanding of these things change as we learn more, so I'm perfectly willing to let a lot of that slide. Still. The fact that it's 1940 when it was published, and he was talking abou
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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
Carlex
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Three and half stars.

Slan is poorly written but I enjoyed the reading (well, my reviews are also poorly written ;-)

As a lot of classics this novel could seem a bit silly to the current reader: the female characters, some aspects of the plot, and of course the state of the art of science knowledge...

However Slan has good ideas, for example when the author imagines a society in which some humans have superpowers (telepathy, intelligence, strength, etc) but at the same time they must hide and prote
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Jim
May 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, 1audio, scifi
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, fantastic scie
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Michael
281218 later addition: just read interesting lit crit work on intersections of surrealist and sf work/theory mostly in france in early 20th to midcentury, of which van vogt was greatly admired. he translates well. (arguments are from the lit crit/art crit world not mine...) his plots are confused on purpose, plots against baudelairian 19th century realism, plots skeptical of freudian modern mythology, plots linked to the (french) ‘new novel’ as well etc... not enough on r-g and friends for me, b ...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. ...more
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
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Matt Tandy
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
The golden age of science fiction produced many works that have stood the test of time. Fahrenheit 451, I Robot, the Foundation trilogy, Ring Around The Sun, the Lensman series, the Skylark series and many others continue to shape science fiction today and thrill modern readers. Unfortunately, some works that were groundbreaking at the time haven't aged as well, Slan being one of them. While the concepts are interesting (racism, eugenics, evolution, political espionage), the execution fails the ...more
J.M. Hushour
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
"He was on the run, and there could be no turning back--for behind him was swift death!"

More like 1.5 stars...
When we're not being arrested at COVID super-spreader sex parties, what do we do? We read. I love reading. I love books, too, because without them reading would feel empty. I enjoy lists of things, especially lists of books that other people decided that they have the power to tell me to read. I've been going through a top 100 sci-fi novel list for a couple of years now and I finally got
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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
Love of Hopeless Causes
Jan 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
Ever wonder what the term forced means? "They're following us Jommy," her brain telegraphed, "they're not sure, but they suspect, we've risked once too often coming into the capitol. Though I did hope that this time I could show you the old Slan way of getting into the catacombs where your Father's secret is hidden." People just don't speak this way, but apparently Slan live only to make it from one plot point to another, info-dumping things everyone in their culture already knows, like some ga ...more
Kara Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
terpkristin
Meh. The book broached some interesting topics but didn't actually resolve anything about the complicated issues. It ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, but I'm not interested enough to keep going. ...more
AndrewP
I read a couple of books by this author way back in my youth and have no recollection what they were like. This one came up a book club read so it was a good opportunity to revisit.

The main theme of this book is the prejudices towards a slightly different race of humans, a prejudice that goes in both direction incidentally. There is some nostalgic hand wave science typical of the era, but other than that the book does not seem dated at all. The majority of the story holds up very well although
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Scott
Jan 18, 2009 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
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Oleksandr Zholud
This is a classic SF novel, originally published as a series in 1940. It won Retro-Hugo for 1941 that can be an indicator of its importance for the SF genre.

The novel is short, easy to read and is definitely the product of its time, with for example women thinking chiefly about romance and being out of political power, the prerogative of men. It follows the life of Jommy Cross, starting from the murder by police of his mother when he was only nine. He is the Slan, a homo superior, whom homo sapi
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Rob
I'm forgoing my usual format because I don't have a lot to say on this book. I've long since known that most classic sci-fi just isn't for me, and sadly this one was no different.

I found this book had a few interesting ideas, but little else to hold my interest. I felt the characters were very thin and uninteresting and the plot seemed disjointed at times. Overall, just not really my type of story.
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Jim C
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual rating is 3.5 stars.

This book is a science fiction novel that was written well over seventy years ago. In this one, mutants have developed telepathic powers and these mutants, also known as slans, are being hunted by humans. Our main character is a slan as we follow him through loss and him trying to survive.

Right away I was blown away by this book. This was X-Men but written twenty five years earlier. As with X-Men, the persecution of mutants is an allegory for racial tensions. I loved t
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Rob
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
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,
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Simon
Apr 22, 2015 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
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Jeff
Jan 27, 2008 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
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Roddy Williams
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Kurt Reichenbaugh
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulp, sci-fi
I like A.E. van Vogt's old sci-fi "novels" precisely because they're of a time when Science Fiction was relatively young and exiting and full of gee whiz wonder. But if you're going to dive into one of van Vogt's "novels" (novel being usually a patched together group of individual stories from his ASTOUNDING days) then you're going to have to take the good with the bad. The good: the plots are breathless and fast-paced, with lots of careening twists and action. The bad: the plots often make no s ...more
Stewart Sternberg
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Ah, a bildugsroman. The book is dated, true. Yes, the language is stilted and given to information dumps, and okay, the character development isn't really fully realized....but this is from a time when science fiction in America was racing toward a heyday, and Van Vogt is a master at imagining broad worlds. ...more
Sandra
Sep 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Take a drink every time the word Slan is used to make this book enjoyable. Also, Jommy is a dumb name.
Dave Packard
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audible, laser, kindle
I’m sure that this book was revolutionary in its day, but today it is just dated, and the writing style leaves a lot to be desired. The author has to exposit the entire wrap up in the last few pages which I always dislike.
Luke Devenish
Dec 10, 2011 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
Viridian5
Aug 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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Gregory
As I say in my Goodreads "about me" section, this was the very first science fiction novel that I ever read (thanks to a teacher). It made a strong impact on me as I was in high school and I 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 ...more
Stephen Richter
Okay it was written for the market to get published in in a SF magazine in the 1940s. Some declare it a masterpiece or some ground breaking work. I feel it gets to much credit for the inspiration of the mutant X-men, while I think the concept goes back to Homer. How is not Achilles not the first X-Man ? I am sure others can argue the concept is even more ancient. Still it was short, the tale progressed at break neck speed and the last few pages explained all.
I think Vogt had a bad Granny.
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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
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Other books in the series

Slan (2 books)
  • Slan Hunter (Slan, #2)

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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