the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Venus

Vintage SF badgeNull AWorld of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1945, first published as a novel in 1948.

where I got it: purchased used, the 1970 printing.

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“The map is not the territory, the word is not the thing itself”

Gilbert Gosseyn has arrived in the great city of The Games to prove his Null-A training.  His wife Patricia Hardie recently passed away, but he knows this is what she would have wanted, for him to succeed at the The Games and win passage to Venus.  He’ll win for both of them.

During a meeting with other visitors, Gilbert is accused of not being who he says he is. But he passes a lie detector test with flying colors.  The year is 2560, lie detector computers are ubiquitous, and why in the hell would anyone lie about having been married to President Hardie’s daughter Patricia (who is very much alive, and very much unmarried)?

In the World of Null-A, the world of non-Aristotelian logic, there is never any reason to lie about one’s identity, never any reason to panic.  Among other things, Null-A mental training allows one to instantly adapt to changes in their environment, and Gilbert has been training his whole life for this.  But he was never prepared to not have any idea who he is.

He can trust only his memory, but what if your memory is wrong? Does our memory make us who we are? Does our brain and our memories tell us exactly how something happened, or only how we perceived that it happened? How do we get rid of the filter of our own perception?

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And yes, I am talking about *that* John Campbell. You know, the guy who edited Astounding (later renamed Analog) for nearly 35 years, the guy who kicked off the careers of many of the most famous golden age science fiction writers. This is the guy who in 1938 also penned a little novella called Who Goes There? which later became, among other incarnations, John Carpenter’s 1982 film The Thing.  Simply put, without Campbell,  science fiction would not be what it is today.

SAM_2425The Black Star Passes, by John W. Campbell

published in 1930 / 1953

where I got it: purchased used

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The Black Star Passes is a 1953 fix-up of three of Campbell’s earlier stories that were originally written in 1930.  I know that the stories were edited from their original forms to become a smoother novel, but I don’t know the extent of those changes. In Campbell’s introduction to this 1953 printing, he says the fiction he writes is for students (he specifies male students, but take it in the time in which it was written) who were discovering the joys of math, chemistry, and engineering while in high school or college. These stories were for people who enjoying thinking about problems and figuring out the answers. Basically, these are stories for science nuts.

In Piracy Preferred, the first story, the young inventors Arcot and Morey are challenged with catching an invisible thief. The pirate manages to gas entire airplanes with sleeping gas, get aboard, steal the valuables, and get away. the plane is able to safely land on auto-pilot, and no one is ever hurt in these attacks, except for the fact that the sleeping gas also cures many cancers and other ailments.  If a pilot begins to feel sleepy, it’s too late.  It’s quite entertaining when entire planes go up filled with the elderly and cancer stricken and all their money, hoping to bait the pirate into curing them.  This isn’t a mystery or a suspense story, and after a bit of experimentation in their labs, Arcot and Morey are able to make themselves invisible, break through the invisibility cloak of the pirate, and catch him. And what do you do when you catch a genius criminal?  you hire him, of course!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.