- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Orb Books; 1 edition (Oct. 25 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765300974
- ISBN-13: 978-0765300973
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #413,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The World of Null-A Paperback – Oct 25 2002
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“A. E. Van Vogt's early stories broke like claps of thunder through the science fiction field. Such novels as Slan, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and The World of Null-A, all were written with invention, dramatic impact, and a sense of breathless wonder that won him instant popularity” ―Jack Williamson
“After more than half a century I can still recall the impact of his early stories.” ―Arthur C. Clarke
“Interplanetary skullduggery in the year 2650. Gilbert Gosseyn has a pretty startling time of it before he gets to the root of things. Fine for addicts of science-fiction” ―The New Yorker
“One of those once-in-a-decade classics” ―John W. Campbell
“A. E. van Vogt was one of the first genre writers ever to publish an actual science fiction book, at a time when science fiction as a commercial publishing category did not yet exist, and almost all SF writers--even later giants such as Robert A. Heinlein--were able to publish novels only as serials in science fiction magazines. It's indicative of the prestige and popularity that van Vogt could claim at the time that he was one of the first authors to whom publishers would turn when taking the first tentative steps toward establishing science fiction as a viable publishing category. . . . Nobody, possibly with the exception of the Bester of The Stars My Destination, ever claim close to matching van Vogt for headlong, breakneck pacing, or for the electric, crackling paranoid tension with which he was capable of suffusing his work.” ―Gardner Dozois
About the Author
A. E. Van Vogt was a SFWA Grand Master. He was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. in 1944, by which time he was well-established as one of John W. Campbell's stable of writers for Astounding Science-Fiction. He lived in Los Angeles, California and died in 2000.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Gilbert Gosseyn is a man seemingly without a past. He is drawn into a complex web of intrigue by Earth's leaders and soon discovers a plot by an alien Galactic League to conquer the Solar System. Whats more, he realises he is also being used as a pawn by an unknown power, the nature of which he must uncover to determine his true purpose and identity.
As one of the earliest commercial SF novels, written in 1948, the "World of Null-A" is predictably anachronistic in its description of a world of the future. Yet the book is suitably action-packed and fast-paced to hold your interest. In fairness to it, in the late-1940s it would have been groundbreaking. The plot is only partially resolved at the end and its clear that the book was intended as the first in a series. Probably worth reading only for serious connoisseurs of sci-fi.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Okay, so I stole my title from another critic's comment. But that's what all the Null-A books are about, and I will be grateful all my life that I read the Null-A books when I was young enough to grok them, not just understand them. The word is not the thing. The map is not the world. If anybody can remember these two things, the thalamic pause, which I never did understand, isn't necessary to hold onto sanity with both hands as the world collapses around one. The sooner Kindle gets all the Null-A books and all the Weapon Makers books, the happier I will be. Van Vogt is a seriously underrated writer now, and too many people know nothing of the age in which he was writing except for Heinlein's deservedly remembered books. But this book is great, although its being published by Kindle before the earlier books handicaps the reader, who should be able to read this series in order--a problem hard to solve, as Van Vogt repeatedly rewrote the same material and republished it. He was very fond of revision. But his work is worth the extra work on the part of both the writer and the reader.
Clearly Van Vogt was familiar with Korzybski's ideas and incorporated them very entertainingly in his "null-A" themed science fiction. This book was originally published as a three part serial in John Campbell's wonderful SiFi magazine "Astounding Science Fiction" (now "Analog"). Its protagonist is Gilbert Gosseyn (the man with `two brains') is a dedicated non-Aristotelian who is central to protecting the Earth, its null-A paradise, Venus and its null-A world view from a ruthless inter Galactic Empire bent on incorporating the solar system into its empire and destroying the null-A mindset. In the end the Aristotelian way of doing business is defeated by the logic and sanity of the null-A forces.
Now this book was written in the 1940s so much of its terminology will undoubtedly appear quaint to 21st Century readers ("atomic torpedoes"). However underlying this is a very serious and very interesting argument in favor of Korzybski's ideas on both science and sanity. In a very real sense Van Vogt was concerned with ideas much more than gadgets in most of his work and certainly this was the case in this book. It is still a fun read that might even precipitate some serious thought.
That was then: what was cool to a twelve year old is not necessarily what appeals to that decidedly unsuper-man half a century later. Let's face it--van Vogt might have been cutting edge for his time (though that's debatable), but he was a pedestrian writer with little flair and a stiff style. Reading "The World of Null-A" in the Twenty-first Century was a struggle. The plot is hokey; the "hero" is about as compelling as a bowl of Cheerios (without sugar); there is very little action and tons and tons of talk--especially about General Semantics and A vs. Null-A. I can deal with the anachronisms (tubes in the electronic gadgets, for instance), but the plodding story telling was just a chore to read.
And then you get to the last sentence, and it becomes clear that van Vogt thought he could salvage the book by ending with a "surprise." Not so. You can paint a pig's tail blue, but a pretty end doesn't make the rest of the pig pretty.
I suppose "The World of Null-A" is an interesting example of what the so-called "pulp Sci-Fi" of the fifties was like. If you want a taste of that, then this book will do just fine. If you want a satisfying read with an interesting story, then I recommend Arthur C. Clarke or Alfred Bester.
Bottom line: "The World of Null-A" gets a C in my opinion.
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