If you haven't read any of A E van Vogt's work before, "The Weapon Shops of Isher" is likely to affect you in several pronounced ways. Perhaps the best description would be "extreme geek SF". The language is terse, the plotting almost cinematic in its sudden twists and changes of scene, and the scientific ideas are bold and striking (if not always very plausible). You have to remember that this book first appeared (in serial form) before WW2, and make allowances. It can be unintentionally hilarious when van Vogt takes us to the 48th century and shows us men and women wearing 1940s clothing, and stores called things like "Universal Haberdashery". (Does anyone younger than 50 know what "haberdashery" is, even in 2014?) Yet, naive as some of his technology may seem in terms of machinery, it usually hangs together logically and fits in with (what passes for) the plot.
Van Vogt's writing was highly controversial half a century ago, when the critic (and SF author) Damon Knight famously called him a "cosmic jerry-builder". But his books have a definite charm, and many of us find them strangely addictive. If you enjoyed "The Weapon Shops of Isher", you could do worse than try some of his somewhat better known (and possibly rather better) work such as THE Voyage of the Space Beagle
, The World of Null-A
, or The Pawns of Null-A
(all personal favourites of mine, I must admit). Philip K Dick was a great admirer of van Vogt, whom he credited with getting him interested in SF - for which we should be grateful, even if he had never accomplished anything else!
Oh, and if you liked this book, try its sequel The Weapon Makers (Isher Book 2)