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Slan: A Novel Paperback – June 26, 2007
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Slan is legendary science fiction author A. E. Van Vogt's first and best-known novel, back in print from Tor Books's Orb imprint. The story is classic golden age science fiction: Jommy Cross is a slan, a genetically bred superhuman whose race was created to aid humanity but is now despised by "normal" humans. Slans are usually shot on sight, but that doesn't stop Jommy's mother from bringing him to see the world capital of Centropolis, the seat of power for Earth's dictator, Kier Gray. But on their latest trip to Centropolis, the two slans are discovered, and Jommy's mother is killed. Jommy, only 9 years old, unwittingly becomes caught up in a plot to undermine Gray, who may be more sympathetic to slans than the public suspects. The nonstop action and root-for-the-underdog plot has made Slan a science fiction favorite.
From Library Journal
One of the landmark novels of the genre, Van Vogt's 1940 tale follows the "Slan," a new breed of telepathic humans and their search for a society free from persecution. Essential for all libraries.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
After further investigation, I've decided that the Kindle book is the original version of the book (pure space opera). This is not such a terrible thing, however, I must recommend reading the 1968 version over reading the Kindle version because IMHO it's a much better book. There are only a few changes in the newer version, mainly to the characters of Davy Dinsmore & Jem Lorry, but they definitely make the book a much better read!
Slan is the story of a race of telepathic super-humans, artificially created by mankind, only to be hated and exterminated by their jealous brethren after a stormy history. The main character Jommy Cross is a Slan orphan who must fight the mean streets of earth, striving to connect with others of his kind, ultimately to fulfill a suprising destiny. The narrative charges forward at thrilling pace, brimming with invention and concepts fresh and often startling for what I expected to be a rather dated genre book. Slan clearly was inspirational in the genesis of X-men, as you will have to read the book to understand, lest spoilers be given. You might say Professor Xavier is a Slan!
The writing in Slan is rather pulpish in some places, since the novel was originally serialized in the pulps, but nevertheless, van Vogt demonstrates rare literary powers in defiance of the medium. At least one sentence per paragraph blazes like a meteorite! Some others have expressed disappointment at the suprise ending, but I rather liked it.
As a final note, as some reviewers have stated blatantly, the perceptive reader will notice some real world allegories forming in Slan, some obvious, and others not so. There is a general device in Sci-fi/fantasy, that if one suspects he sees an allegory forming, he should go back and check the name. If he is correct, he may find some correspondence between the letters--either the letter count will be the same, phonetics will match, or there may be an anagram lurking. In this case, you may need to reverse the order of the letters!
Like most of van Vogt's fiction, Slan is characterized by madcap energy and a non-stop flow of ideas, unimpeded by lesser (to him) literary values such as coherence, characterization, stylish prose or scientific plausibility. Slan is not as wild and woolly as some of van Vogt's later novels, like the genuinely surreal The World of Null-A, but it does keep introducing new plot complications every few chapters.
The novel begins as a story of a young boy slan (a group of mutant humans with telepathic powers), living in a brutal dictatorship in which all slans are hunted down and killed. (I wonder how many readers of Astounding in 1940 saw the parallels to Hitler's Germany.) As the story goes on, van Vogt gradually turns this into a space opera, complete with an invasion of the Earth from Mars, and some of the emotional power of the early chapters is dissipated. When we are expecting a paroxysm of violence at the conclusion, van Vogt surprises us again with a talky final chapter in which all of the plot elements are explained and all conflicts resolved.
The science fiction field has matured quite a bit since Slan was written, but the novel is still worth reading for fans of the genre.
It is the story of a mutant race of humanity (Slan) who are stronger, smarter, and are telepathic. In the story we are told that the name Slan is derived from Samuel Lann who is purported to be the creator of the race. At the start, the Slan are hunted by humanity to be destroyed, and through the course of events we learn the history of the race, as well as the truth behind the crimes of which they are accused.
The story is told through the eyes of two of the Slan. The first is Jommy Cross who is nine years old when the story commences, and who is becomes isolated from any other Slan when his mother is captured. The second Slan is Kathleen Layton, who is a prisoner of the government and being held for observation.
This is an excellent book, which holds up well 60+ years later. It is fast paced, and definitely worth reading.