Slan Hunter (2007) is the sequel to Slan. In the previous volume, Jommy Cross learned that the tendrilless slans were preparing to invade the Earth. Returning from Mars, he attempted to warn the human government. He entered the palace by a hidden way and was met by Kier Gray, the President of Earth.
Gray released him from the trap -- which Jommy had already neutralized -- and received the news of the invasion. Then Jommy learned that Kathleen -- whom he had thought dead -- was alive and cured of the terrible wound inflicted by John Petty.
In this novel, Davis Stewart is driving his very pregnant wife to the hospital. Anthea is in labor and Davis is in a hurry. When he reaches the emergency room, he runs into the hospital to get help and comes out pushing a wheelchair and leading an orderly.
The orderly wheels Anthea toward the delivery room while calling out to the nurses. A nurse stops Davis at the door, but Anthea is quickly moved into position. The doctor speaks calmly to Anthea and tells her to push.
The baby comes quickly and the doctor holds him up for his mother to see. A nurse cries out and the doctor shows a horrified expression. The baby has golden tendrils growing out of the back of his head. He is a slan.
Neither Anthea nor Davis show any sign of being slans. They certainly are not aware of any such possibility. However, the doctor fills a hypodermic syringe with a poisonous substance and reaches for the baby.
Davis comes into the delivery room, responding to a feeling of danger. Nurses and orderlies try to block his passage, but he fights his way through. Anthea tells him of the doctor's intention and Davis throws aside everyone between him and the doctor.
After removing Anthea and their baby from the room, Davis immediately recognized the danger of three security men and a secret policeman coming toward them. He tells Anthea to take the baby and run, then he runs toward the security men. As Anthea goes the other way, she hears the shots that signal the death of her husband.
In this story, Petty had the president's quarters bugged by his secret police and learns that Gray is really a tendrilless slan. He has the president arrested and then captures Jommy and Kathleen. They are all secured in cells under the palace. Jommy and Kathleen are detained in adjacent cells and soon free themselves from their captors.
Gray was imprisoned elsewhere in the underground facility. Jommy and Kathleen soon learn the location of his cell and manage to break him free. But Petty has set up an ambush nearby and recaptures all three.
Meanwhile, the tendrilless slans attack the planet, including Centropolis, the capital. They are bombing the palace while Petty is securing his captives. Petty quickly agrees to join forces against the tendrilless slans.
This story concludes the storyline established in Slan. Very little is new other than the plot. Most of the characters, the locales and the technology are taken from the earlier story. This trend is unlike Van Vogt, who usually tried to introduce new ideas into each sequel within a series. Across series, however, he often reused older ideas. The best innovation in this tale is indicated by the concluding paragraph.
The Foreword describes how this book came to be published. This provides a fascinating -- and dismaying -- glimpse into the Van Vogt life story. The senior author tried to produce this book, but was overcome by Alzheimer's. Eventually, the novel was put into the hands of the junior author.
Recommended for Van Vogt & Anderson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of viable mutations, reactionary social elements, and human relationships.
-Arthur W. Jordin