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The Silkie Mass Market Paperback – January 5, 1982


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: DAW; Reissue edition (January 5, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886770629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886770624
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,242,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Glicklich on August 30, 2008
It has the typical characteristics of Van Vogt, for better or worse. Thrilling concepts, a hyper-fast narrative, far-out depictions of science, aliens and political structures. Not up to the standard of the Null-A books or Voyage of the Space Beagle, but high above Vogt's worse. I found this a fast, engaging read. It also features the typical Vogt narrative of intellect, and a specific imagined intellectual disclipline (in this case "the logic of levels") triumphing over adversity. The gender depiction remains weak.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Camp on May 17, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1963, A.E. van Vogt returned to the science fiction field after a long absence (he had been working as a Dianetics counselor).His output was prolific during this late period, but it is fair to say that he produced no new classics and a great many novels that were absolutely dreadful. Nevertheless, he wrote a few novels that were good. _The Silkie_ is one of the good pieces.

There are some flaws. The novel is a fixup comprised of three novellas originally published in _If_ between 1964 and 1967, along with a bit of added material. It is sometimes structurally a little on the rough side, with gaps between scenes. And the style is sometimes a bit pulpish. But on the balance, the flaws are minor.

In folklore, a silkie is a changeling-- a person who is a man upon the land and who is a seal in the ocean. Van Vogt's silkie, Nat Cemp, is a changeling who has three forms: human, fish and silkie. The silkie form is not that of a seal; rather, it is a kind of armored space creature. There is one scene in which Cemp re-enters the Earth's atmosphere to land off the coast of Florida and another in which he chases a renegade silkie up into space, losing him in the Van Allen radiation belts.

There are a number of settings which show a return to the van Vogt imagination. There is a giant water filled spaceship with shark caves and underwater cities. There is a planetoid silkie colony with art and gem rooms and miles and miles of twisting corridors. There is planet Minus 1109-93, with its city of "slender buildings that reared like stretched lacework toward the sky"(104).

The action in the story is effective as well. There is a chase scene from a sewer to an underwater canyon.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Only my second Van Vogt book, but now I'm hooked. I can't even say I enjoyed the book itself. I certainly enjoy the fact that it left me with such a strong impression of Sci-Fi/Fantasy goodness. Van Vogt is a mind blower, and I regret I did not discover his works earlier in my life. This one is out there in terms of "hard sci-fi" and certainly seemed to tread a more fantasy thread. That's ok though. Van Vogt makes you think. Love his stuff!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The only downside of this book is... it ends! This story leaves you wanting more. I love the concept of the "logic of levels." The story moves at a breakneck pace and the protagonist, Nat Cemp is very believable. Van Vogt does an excellent job of writing a hero that though powerful is NOT all powerful and explores how we might live and co-exist with beings that are more advanced than we are. The Glis, though monstrous, is actually a sympathetic entity whom like all of us is also struggling with the primary questions faced by all humanity. To wit: What am I? Where did I come from? What might I become?
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