Forgotten Book: Transfinite – the Essential A.E. Van Vogt

this is the 251st in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Transfinite – The Essential A.E. Van Vogt by A.E. Van Vogt, NESFA 2003 hardcover, science fiction short story collection

vanvogt-600These twenty-five stories are old, written between 1935 and 1950, and I believe it’s necessary to read them with that in mind. They don’t have newer sensibilities (role of women, environment) and breakthroughs in science have made some of the core concepts outdated.

So what?

The critically discriminating reader, probably more critical than I, may find these stories unreadable, question the plotting and determine the writing poor. There’s no doubt that taken to novel – or even novelette – length I would have wearied of any one of these pretty fast. But they are short and they are fun and they are the product of their time and with that in mind I enjoyed this collection quite a bit. Several of these stories appeared as part of the “fix-up” novel, The Voyage of the Space Beagle.

A shout out to NESFA press for again producing a fine volume of classic science fiction. Well done.

Here’s the TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction (Hal Clement)
Foreward (Joe Rico)
Black Destroyer
The Monster
Film Library
Enchanted Village
Asylum
Vault of the Beast
The Ghost
The Rull
Recruiting Station
A Can of Paint
The Search
Dear Pen Pal
The Harmonizer
The Great Judge
Far Centaurus
Secret Unattainable
Future Perfect
The Great Engine
Dormant
The Sound
The Rulers
Final Command
War of Nerves
Don’t Hold Your Breath
Discord in Scarlet
Afterward (Rick Katze)

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Science Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Forgotten Book: Transfinite – the Essential A.E. Van Vogt

  1. Like you, I’m a fan of the NESFA publications. TRANSFINITE gathers a lot of Van Vogt’s classic SF stories together. Here’s the TABLE OF CONTENTS:
    Introduction (Hal Clement)
    Foreward (Joe Rico)
    Black Destroyer
    The Monster
    Film Library
    Enchanted Village
    Asylum
    Vault of the Beast
    The Ghost
    The Rull
    Recruiting Station
    A Can of Paint
    The Search
    Dear Pen Pal
    The Harmonizer
    The Great Judge
    Far Centaurus
    Secret Unattainable
    Future Perfect
    The Great Engine
    Dormant
    The Sound
    The Rulers
    Final Command
    War of Nerves
    Don’t Hold Your Breath
    Discord in Scarlet
    Afterward (Rick Katze)

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I’ve only read a few of his stories but have always meant to try more. Looks very interesting.

  3. macavityabc says:

    I’ve read quite a few of those in other collections and anthologies over the years.

  4. I read quite a bit of Van VOgt’s stuff back in the day. I enjoyed it. Haven’t read his short stories much but this looks like a collection I would like

  5. A. E. Van Vogt was a prolific writer so this fine collection will lure many readers into finding more of Van Vogt’s work to enjoy. TRANSFINITE includes many of his classic short fiction and would be an ideal book to start with for readers unfamiliar with Van Vogt’s work.

  6. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Remember enjoying Discord in Scarlet and Black Destroyer. The only Van Vogt I’ve read in recent years was Slan but I couldn’t get thru it.

  7. Jerry House says:

    Early van Vogt stories are among my favorites but I’ve been less impressed with some of his later works and with his novels. (He famously tried to introduce a new concept every twelve pages which led to less control in his novels, but when he was on point he was hard to beat.)

  8. Redhead says:

    you mention two of my favorite words in your review – short and fun.

  9. Guy says:

    Hi

    I have this one the shelf and have dipped into it a number of times over the years. I am a big Van Vogt fan so it is time to take another look. I have a number of the NESFA books and they are doing a really important job in creating lovely editions of many significant SF writers. I loved the Cordwainer Smith and have two volumes of Chad Oliver’s short stories that I am looking forward to.
    I am planning to get the Zenna Henderson when funds allow.

    Regards
    Guy

  10. Pingback: Vintage SciFi Post round up! | the Little Red Reviewer

  11. Denny Lien says:

    Re: “He famously tried to introduce a new concept every twelve pages” — I thought it was “every five hundred words”?

    And some of the other short stories here were also rewritten/incoporated into fix-up novels, I believe (“The Great Judge” for sure), not just the Space Beagle stories.

    I haven’t reread these stories in many years; liked many of them as a big-eyed young man just discovering sf, but in my aged codger memories the only ones that still impress me are “Enchanted Village” and the Space Beagle stories — well, maybe also “The Monster” for sheer chutzpah. But I really should reread them.

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