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Where other scientists had problems trying to figure out what to do during each crisis listed above, Grovesnor could step back and use his education to solve the problems. So here's what I didn't like about these stories: if you have absolutely no clue who Oswald Spengler was you may not understand how nexialism relies on inferences from Spengler's theories. If you want some really fine classic sci-fi, then you may enjoy this one.
It is dated, for sure, but still fun. Imagine a 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 four episodic stories written in s through , when they were assembled into a novel nearly 20 years before Star Trek. The similarities end there, and this is in fact a different universe than Star Trek, but I have a feeling I know what Gene Roddenberry read when he was a kid. Reading this book was a strange experience, as the prose is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of other space opera from that era, and yet the characters are very flat, the society is rigidly hierarchical, and there are no women characters at all.
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 '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 I always hate to write about these venerable SF classics, because very frequently I end up being disappointed by them.
Sure, it's filled with cardboard characters almost all male of course that either talk about science, fight off alien menaces, or do both simultaneously. Sure, some of the "cutting edge" science is now verging on the ridiculous early in the novel, one of the scientists dictates a report and then runs it over to the steganography department to have it transcribed. Some of it is a bit unfortunate naming the most commonly used weapons "vibrators" was just plain distracting.
But there are also a lot of ideas here that were really innovative and exciting at the time. In the end, I try to read these novels with an open mind, trying to muster admiration for them by keeping their place in the canon in mind This is an episodic novel it really feels like 4 separate novella's sharing the same characters. The 4 stories are incredibly similar even down to the length about 50 pages each. The Space Beagle is basically a giant inter-galactic spaceship filled with a bunch of scientists from nearly every known discipline and one new one more about this later.
They are on a voyage heading out of our galaxy and on the way to the galaxy next door. Along the way, they encounter 4 different alien life forms one per story who all pose a threat to the expedition. Some of these aliens are pretty nifty the telepathic bird-people were very cool. Others are more boring the lay-their-eggs-inside-human-tummies variety. Invariably, the aliens are defeated by Elliot Grosvenor, the ship's only representative of Nexialism, a relatively new science branch that is initially described in very vague terms but in the end turns out to be something like a simultaneous insight in every other science branch, achieved by hypnotic machine-learning brain-programming with tapes in the vein of CJ Cherryh's Union folks but less evil.
My favorite aspect of the novel was the sometimes ethically questionable methods Grosvenor uses to push through his will. It adds a nice greyness to the black-and-white quality of the other characters good scientist versus evil scientist politics. Grosvenor does good things, but he sometimes accomplishes them by hypnotizing entire sections of the ship to make them do his bidding or by killing the last or only representative of an alien race.
In this sense, the novel reminded me of George RR Martin's "Tuf Voyaging" about another loner who is posed with moral dilemmas. I just realize "Tuf Voyaging" is also an episodic novel. However, none of the characters in this novel come anywhere close to the depth and charm Martin used to draw Haviland Tuf, one of my favorite SF characters of all time.
In the end, I would only recommend "The Voyage of the Space Beagle" to people who have an interest in the history of the genre and are willing to overlook some of the flaws common in older genre fiction. View all 3 comments. Lest we think of ourselves as too sophisticated and pooh-pooh out of hand some old science fiction with a somewhat clunky name, perhaps we should reconsider.
From the third story came the idea for the movie Alien. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. And he never paid a penny to Van Vogt nor credited him with the idea for the series.
The producers of the film Alien did not get off so easily. Van Vogt sued the producers and came to an arrangement with them that was monetarily satisfactory to both sides. Needless to say, the character of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, was not part of The Voyage of the Space Beagle , as all its crew were chemically castrated males.
There are many treasures from the Golden Age of Science Fiction mostly the s that are worth re-examining. I would submit that the works of A. Van Vogt deserve a closer look. I have re-read three of his books recently and found them well worth the effort. 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 and 1 written in an "Voyage of the Space Beagle" "VOSB" is one of the seminal works of early "hard" science fiction by this master. VSOB is really a compilation of four related, not-so-short stories - 3 written in and 1 written in and published in SF periodicals.
The four were later collected and republished in as VOSB. All involve the 5 year voyage of the starship Space Beagle, a giant orb housing roughly 1, humans, into interstellar and intergalactic space. The book is clearly inspired by Charles Darwin's exploratory mission on HMS Beagle, as well as the inspiration for the basic concept of the original Star Trek.
One of the stories is a direct inspiration for at least one Star Trek episode in the original TV series, another for the creature in the Alien film series. What is remarkable is that van Vogt could envision these concepts 20 years before Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the earth in a space craft.
Van Vogt's style is a tad plodding at times, but the stories are all well crafted. He narrates from the point of view of multiple characters, the most interesting being his narrations from the points of the intelligent alien life forms. One, a galaxy sized and galaxy destroying entity, is truly malevolent. Two others that invade the Beagle in separate incidents are simply trying to survive. Their stories beg the question of whether we can empathize with intelligent life forms that are trying to kill us.
In a couple of centuries we might have the answer. I mean, look at that name! It's 4 short-stories with the same main character and the same spaceship woven into one book. Each story is about the crew encountering an unknown, but superior alien o Fun! Each story is about the crew encountering an unknown, but superior alien organism. The first story is a LOT like the first Alien movie I think the author sued and got some money , and each time the main guy, thanks to his superior intellect and background, defeats the alien using logic and his gadgets.
It's sometimes amusing to see how he prevails over some of the egomaniacs on board, or how well his long ago laid out plans work out, yet sometimes it's too much deus ex machina for my tastes. Still, great fun if you're into old science-fiction, soft sci-fi or when you "love it when a plan comes together". 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. The ideas are nifty. The writing improves over the course of the four 'episodes. Cute how the bridge resembles a university lecture auditorium.
And there's an argument against the Prime Directive here: "It's unwise for birds--or men--to live too specialized an existence. I broke down their resistance to new ideas And when I was younger I would have liked it more. Not just because I was younger, but because there were fewer better books to compare it to.
Still, imo it never deserved accolades. And I'm unlikely to seek more from the author. Back in the pulp science fiction age, authors were restricted to writing short stories for specialist magazines at modest rates. The first two stories above were the first two pieces of fiction van Vogt published. It's virtually a repeat of the earlier story--accidentally encountered alien being turns out to be hostile, kills crew members, and tries to take over ship, only to be cleverly and narrowly defeated at the end by a trick.
The problem with it is that it's a struggle fought only in the adversaries' heads. Worse, it turns out to all be the result of a misunderstanding. In , van Vogt must have realized that to make a novel out of these three stories they had to be expanded and better tied together. Van Vogt decided to base the theme of the novel on an internal power struggle that takes place among the crew of the Space Beagle based mostly on politics between academics as well as between scientists and military men.
This was at most only hinted at in the short stories but becomes the main focus of the novel. This revision works out well and made for an exciting novel. Lost along the way was the focus or theme of the three individual stories. This is not a big loss since the third story's theme is weak in any event, and the second story's was a repeat of the first's. My only regret was that some of the good horror of the alien takeover attempt in the first story gets watered down by the shift in focus to the internal politics.
After completing the novel and writing all the filler material to link the chapters, van Vogt must have realized that he had written a lot of new material he had never sold before. If one can resell short stories as a novel, he must have figured, why not resell the filler material of the novel linking the stories together as a short story?
Thus the abomination of a short story titled "War of Nerves" was created. It made no sense since so much was changed internally in the three stories to link them to the theme that could not make its way into "War of Nerves. I then suspect he tried to sell the failure to Astounding, which would have had no problem quickly and easily rejecting it despite the fact it was written by such a figure as van Vogt.
Thus it ended up being published by a start-up magazine happy to include an author with van Vogt's star power in its line-up. So, what about the fix-up novel? It's surprisingly good given its dubious three short story origins. Van Vogt clearly worked very hard on it. In fact, the novel bears so little resemblance to the short stories that inspired it and so changed were those stories that I had to unexpectedly read the entire novel anew despite having previously read the four short stories.
I enjoyed the internal politics and conflict among the crew of the Space Beagle and the portrayal of the new science of Nexialism, which struck me as a blatant ripoff of Asimov's psychohistory. The novel only bogs down, in fact, when the unpromising material of the short stories is brought in word for word. A battle fought only in the heads of telepaths can never become exciting, for example. This was the first time van Vogt wrote a fix-up novel out of his previously published short stories, but it would not be his last.
Van Vogt would use this formula for six more novels, unless I miscount. After all, why not get paid twice for the same work if one can? However, on none of his subsequent fix-up novels would van Vogt work as hard as he did on this occasion. That means his fix-up novels all were written with real problems left intact, most of the seams clearly showing, even though some of the short stories they were made from were pure magic.
An episodic novel filled with surprises and provocative ideas, this is the story of a great exploration ship sent out into the unknown reaches of space on a long mission of discovery. I can say that knowing this simple fact does alleviate some of the abruptness of ending one chapter before starting the next, so consider yourself properly prepared.
As the crew contingent is made up almost exclusively of scientists, this can make for some curious back-and-forth that — while resembling comedy — methinks Van Vogt intended as more tongue-in-cheek satire. So instead of having the grand cowboy i. Whereas a biologist may recommend dissecting a specimen of a newly-discovered species so that mankind could best learn more about it, by contrast a Nexialist might better suggest allowing it to roam free in order for its demonstrated behaviors to teach us just how to deal with it.
Naturally, this makes for an interesting counterpoint … except when you have to allow the creature to roam your ship at its own pleasure while dining on your shipmates! Therein lie the element of satire I believe Van Vogt intended. As much as he pokes some obvious fun at specific modes of study or entire doctrines of science, he positions Grosvenor in situation after situation that requires a heavy amount of political play in order for him to achieve any measure of success.
Narrated by Fred Major, this space ship meets alien novel will not make any new SF fans. Shelves: science-fiction. When I was in college, learning about the history of sci fi, I developed a pretty strong prejudice against A. I think the impression left in my brain was too strong: he had to be bad, because I had decided he was bad years ago and never examined it. It is those things, mind you, but not to the extreme I might have imagined. The book was not written as a novel, but as a series of four short stories published over more than a decade, which partly explains why the overall plot never really comes together.
In each case, the one person who can figure out how to stop the alien is the protagonist, a practitioner of a new holistic science called Nexialism, and in each case he is ignored almost until it is too late. The aliens tend to be so super-powered as to be hard to take seriously, although I liked the race of telepathic bird-men, the only one whose culture is really considered in detail.
Monster Manual. Another alien was depicted in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. Van Vogt seems to have been a competent wordsmith, though in this case parts of the story are definitely under-developed. This is a solid example of s 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 This is a solid example of s science fiction. All stories can be summed up like this: Grosvenor: "Guys, this alien entity is evil and will kill us all" Scientists: "Yeah right" [Alien entity starts to kill scientists] Grosvenor: "Told you. Well, I guess it's up to me to save the day" [Grosvenor saves the day] In this respect, I found the character of Elliott Grosvenor and his field of expertise, Nexialism excellent.
He is essentially a super-expert, leagues ahead of his close-minded and lackadaisical colleagues, but the coolness coming from him and his attitude that I perceived while reading the book was the book's best part in my opinion. I wonder if other SF novels have picked it up 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 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.
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 concept very interesting, there was an undercurrent of smug superiority in the guise of earnest desire to improve the human race. Similarly in Slan there is a smug superiority in the guise of oppressed evolved being.
It's a narrative that appeals to a certain class of the bullied, and hence clear to see its appeal. I may give this a re-read, and purposefully read Elliott Grosvenor as a black man for the sheer thought experiment it will provide. Nonetheless, I was thoroughly amused by the deployment of the words "pussy" and "vibrator"--it felt like a gift that kept on giving and certainly carried me through what would otherwise have been a dreary novel.
I am apparently 12, and make no apology. This classic is one of my favorites among the many novels of Van Vogt. 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 the Space Beag This classic is one of my favorites among the many novels of Van Vogt.
Elliott Grosvenor, is continually endeavoring to unite the disparate, sometimes warring, factions of scientists on the Space Beagle to thwart attacks from unusual and powerful aliens that the ship encounters. This novel, like many of van Vogt's novels, is an amalgam of several short stories making it a somewhat episodic tale. However, the presence of Dr. Grosvenor and his combination of foresight, scientific knowhow, and engagement in the search for knowledge suggested by the allusive title provides a coherence that raises it above most other novels of this kind.
The combination of imaginative aliens, the superhero protagonist, and the environment of suspenseful action makes this an unforgettable science fiction reading experience. You should read this classic of golden age scifi and see for yourself. 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. 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. 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 scientists.
He's the only Nexialist aboard and t 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! He's the only Nexialist aboard and the rest of the crew are pretty doubtful about Elliot and his ravings That is, until he totally shows them how smart he is and shoves it right down their dumb throats!
This is exaggerated competence fodder for any smart or smartish kid who's ever had sand kicked in his face. Sadly, it's really little more than that. If I'd read this when I was 9 I might have been into it, but these days I need a better brand of childish pap. The book is 4 stories stuck together, each one with a different threat.
Van Vogt's drags, though, since all 4 stories are pretty long that type is pretty small too. Phonebook, anyone? All of the creatures have their thoughts and motivations revealed, which pretty much eliminates potential suspense. Monsters plot to take over the ship and make mistakes, meanwhile a chemist named Kent plots to take over the ship and targets Grosvenor.
The book tries to build this into a drama, but really there's nobody to root for. A story seven blue-collar space-truckers who get sent to a desolate planet by their computer and then confront horror from a biological parasite with a weird life-cycle and find out one of their number is a robot The only solid similarities are that they both have a spaceship and a monster.
One of the monsters in Van Vogt's book puts eggs in people, but he has to insert them manually no face-hugger and none of the creatures look a thing like Giger's Alien. He is supposed to be a master at all sciences, and yet he refuses to subtly employ sociology or psychology. Doc Savage was equally overpowered and smarter than his own team of experts, but he didn't alienate them because he also know how to display humility and to be patient with others.
Grosvenor believes somehow that rather than subtly work with other human beings and display patience, that he should use his talents to simply rule over them. How does this not just make him an asshole? Anyhow, didn't like this. It's Svengali in space with a chip on his shoulder. I know that Van Vogt is supposed to be a big deal, but this one did not sell me. 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. Originally four stories published in magazines between and , they were extensively re-edited to form this cohesive, if very episodic novel. I'm still skeptical of this "fix-up" practice, but this was executed very well. The stories originally were "Black Destroyer" "War of Nerves" "Discord in Scarlet" "M33 in Andromeda" I didn't read all four of them all the way through, but I did skim them to note any obvious differences, and there were plenty.
Only "War of Nerves" made it into the novel almost unchanged, though bookended with some original material, as it was released very close to the novel's publishing. The other three kept the same basic plot points, but several passages were re-written, deleted or new material was inserted.
As originally published, all the stories except "War of Nerves" originally featured Morton as protagonist, whereas Grosvenor, who first appeared in "M33 in Andromeda", is the protagonist of the whole novel, with increasing agency in the plot through the course of the story, and his role in "M33" was significantly expanded.
Morton retains some of his original dialogue, but some of it is transferred to Grosvenor. The fictional science of Nexialism also only debuted in "M33". Minor characters were harmonized between the stories: Siedler originally died in "Black Destroyer" but appears throughout the novel, and Korita originally did not appear in "M33", but also appears throughout the novel in and that section. Despite the significant alterations made, they don't feel unnatural, or even immediately obvious.
If I hadn't known I wouldn't have guessed that Grosvenor was not originally part of the story. The final construction and linkage of the stories is very elegant. Short references to previous stories are inserted where they would be relevant e. While the plots of each story were left largely unaltered, there were some significant changes.
The biggest is that Coeurl was, in "Black Destroyer", suggested to be a member of the destroyed civilization discovered on his planet, mentally degenerated by millennia of solitary predatory survival. In the novel, Grosvenor instead theorizes that Coeurl was some kind of scientifically altered animal, which the story corroborates by having Coeurl dredge up memories of the "builders", and by lowering his perceived intelligence: in "Destroyer", he constructs a spaceship from material in the engine room, but in the novel, he merely hijacks an existing ship.
I don't think this added anything to the story and it existed only to have Grosvenor realize a subtle distinction that was lost on the other scientists. Ixtl's contact with the ship was also changed from a chance impact to an active effort of Ixtl after he noticed the ship via a multi-lightyear diameter sensory field. References to the cyclic theory of history made in each story are trimmed down, principally the more obscure examples "Black Destroyer" is probably the only place I've heard the Hyksos brought up in the past decade , and some scientific details are altered.
All in all, the novel is similar enough to the stories that except in the case of "Black Destroyer", I don't think anything is gained from reading them over the novel unless you like making these kinds of comparisons. Other additions are quite significant. Not only Grosvenor and Nexialism's presence, but a political struggle between the director Morton and the head of chemistry Kent forms the backbone of the novel.
Kent sees Grosvenor as an irritating upstart, Morton being able to provide only limited aid to Grosvenor, and the navigation of the human element of the crew is as significant as figuring out how to survive assaults from superpowerful aliens. The political story completely transforms the overall character of the "M33" section, while leaving its SF material intact.
This is the "fix-up" that impressed me the most. It's so essential to the story, but was almost entirely inserted into the stories after the fact, yet still feels completely natural to them. This is about as good as I can imagine a fix-up being. Nexialism and Grosvenor were a mixed bag. While his maneuvering of the political situation of the ship was interesting, he was a bit too "perfect" and Nexialism was absurdly powerful. It starts with him being able to see connections that specialists are blind too, and goes to some truly ridiculous places.
I can get behind ridiculous things, but the story only lightly touches on the huge implications.
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