Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Slan 2007 cover Slan (1940, 1945, 1951, 1968)

2007 Tor trade paperback
cover art from Astounding Science Fiction October 1940
cover art by Hubert Rogers
255 pages

Dell 1953 1st paperback edition (right)
Slan 1953 1st edition paperback

From the back cover of the first paperback 153 Dell (above left):
       Why was he feared?...
       His name was Jommy Cross, and to all appearances he was human and harmless.  But the slim tendrils half-concealed in his hair identified him as a SLAN.  And to the men who ruled the world, naturally all SLANS were freaks.
       But Jommy believed that SLANS were not the monsters men claimed.  And though still a child, and alone -- and with only a secret weapon left him by his father -- he set out to find his fellow SLANS, and, with them, to win a way to peace with men.

From the back cover of the 1960 UK Panther edition (below):
       "DESTROY THEM!"
       The Slans are a super-race, capable of mind-reading, and equipped with bodies many times more resistant to fatigue than ordinary mortals. But they live in constant fear of discovery, for the rewards are great if anyone should capture a Slan... DEAD OR ALIVE

Blurb from 1977 Berkley edition (not shown):
       SUPERIOR BEINGS. Years ago, Mankind fought against the hated slan race in the fierce Slan Wars. The result was the extermination of almost all slans, and the establishment of a world-wide police state. But slan Jommy Cross had escaped extermination and was now living in constant fear in the world of cruel humans. Jommy was determined to avoid detection, track down other surviving slans, and with them, the mystery of the slans' strange existence and superiority.

Read for group discussion on December 10, 2008

Slan 1946 1st edition hardcover Slan 1968 UK Panther paperback Slan 1961 Ballantine paperback
1946 Arkham House 1st edition hardcover
cover art by Robert E. Hubbell
1960 UK Panther paperback 1961 Ballantine paperback
Cover by Richard Powers

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 6 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron 6 Cynthia -
Jackie 5.5 Ron 5
Jennifer 5.5

Aaron's Commentary   A. E. van Vogt - Slan

To my mind, this novel does not compare favorably with van Vogt's best work, such as The Voyage of the Space Beagle and The Weapon Shops of Isher, and is remembered fondly mostly because it touched a nerve with Golden Age fans - Fans are slans!  As always, van Vogt is entertaining and moves things along briskly, but the plot ranges between silly and nonsensical, and van Vogt fails to take the superman scenario anywhere interesting.  Several of his contemporaries handled the concept much more adroitly, for example More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon and Mutant by Henry Kuttner.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

A. E. van Vogt (1912 - 2000) was a Canadian-born science fiction writer.  He moved to the USA in 1944.  Van Vogt was one of the giants of the Golden Age of science fiction.

1996 SWFA Grand Master Award

Slan books:
--Slan (1940 Astounding, 1946), his first novel
--Slan Hunter (with Kevin J. Anderson, 2007), a posthumous collaboration

Weapon Shops books:
--The Weapon Shops of Isher (1941-2 Astounding & 1949 Thrilling Wonder Stories, fixup 1951)
--The Weapon Makers (1943 Astounding, 1947)
--The Empire of Isher (omnibus, 2000)

Null-A books:
--The World of Null-A (1945 Astounding, 1948 revised)
--The Pawns of Null-A (1948-9 Astounding, 1956), aka The Players of Null-A (1966)
--Null-A 3 (1984)

Clane Linn books:
--Empire of the Atom (1946-7 Astounding, fixup 1957)
--The Wizard of Linn (1950 Astounding, 1962)

More novels:
--The Book of Ptath (1943 Unknown, 1947) aka Two Hundred Million A.D. (1964)
--The House That Stood Still (1950) aka The Mating Cry (1960)
--The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1939-43 Astounding & 1950 Other Worlds, fixup 1950)
--The Mixed Men (1943-5 Astounding, fixup 1952) aka Mission to the Stars (1955)
--The Universe Maker (1949 Startling Stories, 1953)
--Planets for Sale (with Edna Mayne Hull, fixup 1954)
--The Mind Cage (1957)
--Siege of the Unseen (1959)
--The War Against the Rull (1940-50 Astounding, fixup 1959)
--Earth's Last Fortress (1960) aka Masters of Time (1967)
--The Violent Man (1962), political thriller set in China
--The Beast (1943-4 Astounding, fixup 1963) aka Moonbeast (UK 1969)
--Rogue Ship (fixup 1965)
--The Winged Man (with Edna Mayne Hull, 1966)
--The Changeling (1944 Astounding, 1977)
--The Silkie (1964-7 If, fixup 1969)
--Children of Tomorrow (1970)
--Quest for the Future (1943-6 Astounding, fixup 1970)
--The Battle of Forever (1971)
--The Darkness on Diamondia (1972)
--Future Glitter (1973) aka Tyranopolis (UK 1977)
--The Man with a Thousand Names (1974)
--The Secret Galactics (1974) aka Earth Factor X (1976)
--Supermind (fixup 1977)
--The Anarchistic Colossus (1977)
--The Enchanted Village (1979) (chapbook)
--Renaissance (1979)
--Cosmic Encounter (1980)
--Computerworld (1983) aka Computer Eye (1985)
--To Conquer Kiber (1985, no English language edition)
--The People of the Wide Sands (1987, no English language edition), expansion of story "Enchanted Village"
Story Collections:
--Out of the Unknown (1948) (with Edna Mayne Hull)
--Masters of Time (1950)
--Away and Beyond (1952)
--Destination: Universe (1952)
--The Twisted Men (1964)
--Monsters (1965) aka The Blal (1976)
--The Far-Out Worlds of A. E. van Vogt (1968)
--M33 in Andromeda (1971)
--The Proxy Intelligence and Other Mind Benders (1971) aka The Gryb (1976)
--More Than Superhuman (1971)
--The Book of Van Vogt (1972) aka Lost: Fifty Suns (1979)
--The Three Eyes of Evil (UK 1973)
--The Best of A. E. van Vogt (1974)
--The Worlds of A. E. van Vogt (1974)
--Pendulum (1978)
--Futures Past: The Best Short Fiction of A.E. Van Vogt (1999)
--Transfinite: The Essential A.E. van Vogt (2002)
--Transgalactic (omnibus, 2006)

--The Hypnotism Handbook (1956, with Charles Edward Cooke)
--The Money Personality (1972)
--Reflections of A. E. Van Vogt: The Autobiography of a Science Fiction Giant (1979)
--A Report on the Violent Male (1992)

Aaron's review of The Weapon Shops of Isher on Fantastic Reviews
A.E. van Vogt - Wikipedia
The Weird Worlds of A. E. van Vogt
Icshi: The A.E. van Vogt Information Site
Science Fiction Weekly: Classic Sci-Fi Reviews: Slan
BookLoons Reviews - Slan by A. E. Van Vogt

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This page was last updated January 29, 2010