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A(lfred) E(lton) Van Vogt

A(lfred) E(lton) Van Vogt Essay - Critical Essays

Van Vogt, A(lfred) E(lton)

Van Vogt, A(lfred) E(lton) 1912–

Canadian science fiction writer. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 23-24.)

[One] of Van Vogt's abiding characteristics is to make his heroes so invulnerable, so omniscient, so gifted with superhuman powers as to encourage the suspicion that his heroes are all really God in disguise.

Van Vogt is a universe maker by instinct. From the first his stories have concerned themselves with extraordinary powers, with new concepts in science or in mental gymnastics, and he constantly seems to strive to create new systems of thought and mental order which will permit the creation of supermen….

Van Vogt himself is a perpetual seeker after mental godhood. [He] is a talented writer who utilizes his novels to propel many novel schools of thought, making them move with dramatic skill, a talent that calls for a toboggan technique of plotting which, as he once described it, required inserting a new idea every seven hundred words!… No two works of his are ever quite alike and no one can possibly tell in advance each new twist of the toboggan slide. He embodies all the phases of the cosmic future. His stories span all time and all space.

Donald A. Wolheim, in his The Universe Makers, Harper & Row, 1971, pp. 45-6.