- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 10 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Original recording
- Publisher: Ziggurat Productions
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 29 Dec. 2000
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SPXIAY
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Slan Audiobook – Original recording
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Top customer reviews
The story is about a boy born as a member of a super sub-race of human beings. They are hated by normal humans, persecuted, hunted, and mass murdered. They are stronger, smarter, and (some of them) can read minds. Will the boy fulfil is destiny to continue his father's scientific work, find a perfect mate, bring peace between warring species, and generally come top of the class at being brilliant? You guess...
I hate this book. It is exactly the sort of limply written drivel that gives sci-fi a bad name. And Van Vogt is supposed to be up there with the likes of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein (re the latter, see my review of 'Stranger in a Strange Land'). Different planets? Different ends of the multiverse, more like!
I hate the main character. To call him two dimensional is an insult to length or breadth. Although we read his point of view from a boy to a man, there is no substantial change in maturity or development in thought process. He passes through the fire of suffering like a software package, all data, no debate.
I hate all the secondary characters, some of whom read like baddies from a Dick Tracy cartoon. Almost as dire are the portrayal of women, who fit into every archetypal pigeonhole of innocent Virgin or spunky Amazon.
I hate the portrayal of superhumanity. Ok, they can read minds. What else? Well, they are very smart. How? They use words like "logical" and "therefore" a lot, like Vulcan rejects from a Star Trek convention. Big deal.
I hate the back story. It mostly takes the form of large chunks of dialogue in which someone gives a history lecture to the hero, explaining how things are they way they are. There is absolutely no sense of context or demonstration with this; in your mind, you are taken nowhere except to words on a page.
I hate the 'science' bits. Yes, there is some attempt at explaining new atomic forms of power, space flight and distant moons. Yes, I know that since the author is explaining entities that do not exist, it is always going to involve writing gibberish. But sci-fi gibberish can be intriguing, intelligent, even informed. This had the absurd vocabulary of a Jabberwocky, words thrown around randomly to see what would come up. Northing did.
I hate the way it was narrated, with massive gaps of years in between chapters, sometimes between paragraphs, just because the author couldn't be bothered with proper continuity. I could see the twists and shocks coming a mile off. Maybe that means I'm superhuman; or more likely, that I've got an IQ in the triple figures.
I even hate the cover. It looks like its advertising a camp Swedish sex romp. It disturbs me. I want to rip it off. I'd do it too, along with the rest of the book, if I wasn't so precious with my book collection.
Please, don't read this book, never mind buy it. Instead, go for Gladiator by Philip Wylie or Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, both of which are twenty times what this book could ever hope to be by its greatest advocate. If you want to know why, read my reviews.
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.
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.