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  • Slan
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4.3 out of 5 stars24
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2009
Van Vogt is a fairly rated writer among SF officianados, and at the time of its release, this novel was well received. Philip Dick picked him as the model for his early writing and says repeatedly in his autobiographs that Vogt is one of his favourite SF writers, and this book, one of his favourite SF novels: high praise in deed from one of the finest writers of the 20th century. If that isnt reason enough to check it out, then i dont know what might convince. Personally, i prefer PKD's work, however, you can feel many of the elements of his style in this little novel, from the tongue-in-cheek naming, to the twists and turns of the plot.

Overall, the writing is action orientated, fast paced, and because of that, pretty damn exciting. I finished the book in a handful of hours and was a bit disappointed that the ending felt premature. In Van Vogts defense, few SF books of the time (40s) ran to more than 300 pages, and some publishers even used to cut a book at 200 or so pages, irrelevant of how it was setup, or where the end should lay. One reviewer here claims that the characters are one dimensional, and im not sure i could totally disagree with them, but they over state themselves by comparing the character quality to X-men, of all things, it is far better than that.

Give it a chance, and if you can pick it up secondhand, i would do so, save you moaning about it when you realize it isnt Stross, or god forbid, Banks. No, this is definitely a forgotten classic, influentially, interesting, relevant, well written, and certainly as good as Wells et al.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2002
I generally seem to find that sci-fi from the 40's, 50's and 60's to be more rewrading than those which are more recent. Slan reinforced that view.
There's little doubt that this novel shows some sign of age, but the quality of the ideas presented still shine through. So much of what lies between these covers has influenced much of what came later. There are plenty of other novels and short stories which explore the possibility of the next evolutionaty step that humans may take, which doubtless explore it more deeply. However, this was amongst the first.
Additionally it explores racism, and the dangers of mob-intolerance. On top of that, it's actually a good story.
Charming, and a rewarding read.
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on 31 December 1998
Slan is excellent, especially when you consider it was written over 50 years ago. When you read it, you will think "Hey, I have seen these ideas and plot devices before." That's how much influence Slan had on the formation of SF. If you want to understand where SF came from, the book that sets all the conventions is Slan.
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on 19 February 2015
I have to give this five stars because it is a book I was really taken with as a very young reader. It is an adult book though and it has a really good description of how we treat minorities in society even though we think we are civilised wrapped up in a futuristic story. It is a good example of how science fiction has picked up social issues and reflected them back to us. I read it again after managing to buy it in kindle format and still enjoyed the story and the ideas in it. Now it seems a little old fashioned as sci fi styles have moved on to reflect our changing society. I think it is still very relevant today, and it is a good story. Quite short and can be read in one or two evenings. Enjoy.
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on 11 July 2014
Very strange book this one by van Vogt. It starts well and intrigues you, despite the taste of teen novel, then it gets stuck. While the plot runs too fast, the narrative becomes boring and it's awfully easy to get distracted and then lose the thread, given the rapid pace of events. While the characters and their actions at the beginning seemed absolutely credible, then they tend to become too "easy" in the central part of the book, losing all their plausibility and touching absurdity.
The touch of a great author, however, is seen in the way he tells the story: the style, the words capture you. But the story itself seems naive, like those of young adult novels, but unsuitable for the latter given the complex issues dealt in it.
Maybe the 60 years passed since its publication are the cause of this apparent naivety. Moreover, the combination of spaceships with telephone booths is a bit funny. But since the beginning it is not so difficult to accept this retro vibe in the scope of science fiction, the problems are others.
I will not go into the details of the plot, not to spoil the reading of the book. I will just say that there is a certain approximation in the concatenation of the facts, which at times are simply summarized by giving improbable and forced excuses to justify the action going to a certain direction.
What really saves the novel and inspired me to give it at least 3 stars is the ending. I'm not talking about the final chapter (which is terribly far-fetched), but just the last page, even the last sentences, outlining a plot twist that allows closing the story with a bang.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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on 22 July 1999
Slan is such a great tale! It moves so fast and is quite absorbing, and deals with racial hatred in an extremely subtle way that remains current today. I am lucky to have spent some time with Mr. Van Vogt a few years ago, and he is a really nice man, too. It's a great read!
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on 15 March 2016
For a science fiction book, the writing style evokes a sense of the narrative style of the Bible: Stuff happens. This is probably the reason why it is, that A. E van Vogt suffers from a lot of criticism, over the quality of his writing. From time-to-time, there are sections that are reminiscent of Ian M. Banks: The description of how Jommy's space ship is hidden on Mars; the passage of the space ship that Jommy purloined from the tendrilless Slans, under the river and its passage through the tunnel that he blasted out, to cite two instances. Iain M. Banks, however, was a much more consistent writer. Even so, Slan has a lot of good ideas, that seem to be remarkably fresh for 1940 (serialised precursor to the book), and the book finished nicely via a surprise ending that created a strong book-ended effect.
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on 25 November 2013
This was the first SF book I remember reading as a schoolboy 60 years ago. A indulgence in nostalgia. The re-read exposes its dated but that said it still moves along and I understand how I became a life long SF fan.
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on 27 February 2015
A classic! A must read for any SiFi fan. Kindle copy as I couldn't lay my hands on a hard copy. AE vV is one of the greatest mid-century writers of the genre. Read his other works too!!!
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on 28 September 2014
While it hasn’t quite stood the test of time, and is blighted by SF’s perennial curse of having many one dimensional characters, you can see how it struck a chord with the emerging SF subculture and why they empathised with and touted the idea that “Fans are Slans”. I wonder though who they associated the tendrilless Slans with?

While the writing and story feel a bit dated now it does through up a couple of major plot surprises, including the aforementioned tendrilless Slans and a significant death when you least expect it.
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