A. E. Van Vogt
Slan Cover



This has long been considered a classic science fiction novel and it does fulfill that bill. This is my second reading of this novel, the first was so many years ago that this reading seemed fresh and surprising. A. E. Van Vogt liked to write of supermen. Those with abnormal powers, such as superior intelligence, mind reading and others. This novel is the pinnacle of his writing prowess. He'd go on to write many more novels, but arguably none would ever surpass this one.

The slan are a new breed of man, and evolutionary step, and man in his admittedly egotistical cowardice could not allow this to happen. The slan were, for hundreds of years, hunted down and killed. Much like the witches of the medieval periods.

Jommy Cross is a boy of nine when the story begins, he's walking hurriedly and frightened with his mother, they have been spotted as slan and the police were on their trail. Jommy's mother tells her son that he must survive, because his late father had left his big discovery embedded on Jommy's mind with an hypnotic trance. They get separated and Jommy is thrust into a race for survival, which is the thrust of the novel. He later learns of his mother's death at the hands of the police.

The main body of this novel is the adventures that Jommy undergoes in order to survive. His being forcibly "adopted" by an old hag, so that she can use his "powers" to enrich her life. He accepts this as he knows that he will need help if he is to survive until he matures and the secrets of his father become revealed. Jommy is a very mature nine years old and onward, he is able to shrug off the death of his mother and the degradations that this hideous old woman enforces upon him.

That may be the one drawback of this novel, the characters in this novel, like a lot of novels in the early years of science fiction, are not well delineated. They are pretty much a cardboard cut-out, just there to fulfill the story's purpose. Which is why I gave it a four star, instead of a five.