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The Weapon Shops of Isher Mass Market Paperback – December 3, 1980


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Mass Market Paperback, December 3, 1980
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Reissue edition (December 3, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671431293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671431297
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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4 out of 5 Put me in charge, I do old really well.
Blue Tyson
I have read practically everyone in sci-fi and to me, there are a few standouts, like: Robert Heinlen, Andre Norton, Murray Leinster, and A.E. Van Vogt.
M. Anderson
A person without self-protection is a person without freedom.
George F. Cochran

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on May 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sounds like a blurb from the NRA, but in fact this slogan is one of the lynch-pins of one of the most complicated and headlong adventures that van Vogt (often called the master of the re-complicated story) ever wrote.

The Weapon Shops, like many of his stories, was actually written and published as several stories before being collected and somewhat edited into book form. In this case, the major portions were published as "The Seesaw" (Astounding, July 1941), "The Weapon Shop" (Astounding, Dec 1942), and "The Weapon Shops of Isher (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb. 1949). It is important to note the age of these stories, written as they were during the so-called `Golden Age' of science fiction, when ideas were far more important than character or great prose style. This book is absolutely replete with ideas, but the prose, dialogue, and character development certainly leave something to be desired when compared to modern novels. While reading this book you need to let the story line and ideas overwhelm you, and ignore some of the more blatant excesses in writing style.

It starts with a Weapon Shop magically appearing in a 1950 neighborhood. When a policeman attempts to open its door, he finds it locked - but when a newspaperman tries it just a minute later, it opens - and the newspaperman finds himself in the Isher Empire, which has been around for 4700 years, and where the Weapon Shops effectively form the `opposition' to this government. This is plot thread number one. The second thread is that of a young man wishing to leave his provincial village and make his fortune in the big city - where he finds that he is a `callidetic giant', able to beat any game of chance, and ends up amassing a fortune so large that he can upset the economic stability of the Empire.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Anderson on September 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read practically everyone in sci-fi and to me, there are a few standouts, like: Robert Heinlen, Andre Norton, Murray Leinster, and A.E. Van Vogt. This is a great story if you appreciate early sci-fi circa 1951. I would also suggest his book, "War Against The Rull". If you are going to look for this book, "Weapon Shops of Isher", try to get the Ace Double-D version with Murray Leinster's "Gateway To Elsewhere" included. A two books in one issue. Pretty rare and you'll pay for it.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Paul Weiss on April 4, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In "The Weapon Shops of Isher", AE van Vogt deals with libertarian philosophy that is best summarized by the slogan he attributes to the weapon shops, "The right to buy weapons is the right to be free". Unlike what many potential readers might imagine, this is not a manifesto for the National Rifle Association. It's a much more soft pedalled carefully considered cautionary tale that is a warning to citizens to be sure they retain the ability to limit the potential power of any government regardless of the form it might take.

Time travel, immortality, the limitation of government power, corruption, invisibility, loyalty, naivete, love, courage, freedom, rebellion, powerful weaponry - all these themes and more are touched on in what many people call a fine example of the golden age of science fiction. But - and I'm willing to admit that perhaps the shortcoming is my own - I frankly failed to understand the charm and I didn't really catch the message. It bothers me to no end when I get to the end of a story and my sole reaction is "Huh ... what just happened?"

Certainly I understood the basic themes but I felt that van Vogt missed the mark. The story line was difficult to follow and consisted of a hodge-podge of disconnected outrageous scientific conjectures, stilted dialogue far worse than sub-title translations of Japanese B-movies, blinding plot jumps and the use of plot devices that seemed arbitrary and pointless (Hedrock's immortality and a gambler with luck that defies all imagination, for example).

In "Voyage of the Space Beagle", van Vogt wrote a series of stories that were clearly the predecessors of today's much loved Star Trek series.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James A Wiseman on April 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book and its sequel "The Weapon Makers",together make up one of the best old sci fi series. It's astonishingly inventive, especially politically. The tale is smoother and better told than some of van Vogt's work- on the whole, I'd say that only "The War Against the Rull" comapres to it. It's only weakness is that it is a bit old fashioned - this was written before the computer revolution. But it still is creative technologically.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Camp on March 21, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are some critics like Colin Wilson who view A.E. van Vogt as a profound philosophical science fiction writer. I suspect that rather more critics side with Damon Knight, who finds van Vogt to be a writer of almost no literary value at all. My own view is a bit more mixed. I find that many of van Vogt's novels (_The Beast_, _Rogue Ship_, _Darkness at Diamonda_) are awesomely bad. A few others (_The War Against the Rull_, _The Silkie_) are passable space operas. And then there are those that are part fairy tale, part mad inspiration, part dream sequence, and part pseudoscientific doubletalk that actually deserve their reputation: _Slan_ (1946), _The Book of Ptath_ (1947), _The World of Null A_ (1948), and _The Voyage of the Space Beagle_ (1950). For all their faults, these novels have a pizzazz and energy that transcend literary polish.

_The Weapon Shops of Isher_ (1951) belongs in this third category of van Vogt's novels. It is one of his most skillful fixup novels, based on novelettes from _Astounding_ and _Thrilling Wonder_ in the 1940s.

We are presented with a lot of the gee-whiz trappings that we come to expect of van Vogt at his best. There is an Empire ruled by a beautiful, but willful and ruthless Empress. In loyal opposition, there are the powerful Weapon Shops that bear the libertarian motto:

FINE WEAPONS
THE RIGHT TO BUY WEAPONS IS THE
RIGHT TO BE FREE (21)

There is the obligatory van Vogt superman, Robert Hedrock, who (it develops) has something to do with both the Empire and the Shops, and who has an agenda of his own. And there is McAllister, the hapless newsman, who has become a kind of human pendulum swinging through space-time:

The newsman was now the juggernaut of all juggernauts.
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