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Creator: A.E. van Vogt
Van Vogt in 1963. According to some accounts, this is the only publicity photo he ever approved.

You have to remember that I was a bright but simple fellow from Canada who seldom, if ever, met another writer, and then only a so-called literary type that occasionally sold a story and meanwhile worked in an office for a living.

Though only one among many hardworking Golden Age Science Fiction writers, Alfred Elton van Vogt (pronounced "von vote") was definitely one of the most prolific. Often overshadowed by the "Big Three" (Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov), van Vogt still managed to pen some long-lived classics, including Slan, The Book of Ptath, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and the Null-A series (which incidentally kicked off the genre of rational fiction). He cranked out dozens of short stories, many of which have been anthologized over and over again. Like several of his contemporaries, he also forayed into the realms of mainstream fiction and nonfiction.

The Other Wiki states that van Vogt was born in Edenburg, a Russian Mennonite community near Gretna, Manitoba. He spoke German until he was four years old. He got his start by writing for pulp magazines, but decided to switch to something he liked a lot better.

Critics are sharply divided over the quality and merit of van Vogt's work. While it's true that he won few awards during his lifetime, his name is often mentioned along with the Big Three. It's worth pointing out that Clarke, Asimov, and John W. Campbell, Jr. all spoke highly of him. Damon Knight, however, called him "a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter." Despite his critics, van Vogt did manage to inspire several prominent sci-fi writers, such as Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick. Ellison in particular was so outraged that van Vogt had received so little recognition that he went on a one-man media rampage until the SFWA finally presented the aging van Vogt with a Grand Master Award.

Van Vogt claimed that many of his ideas came from dreams, and often arranged to be awoken every 90 minutes so he could jot down his nocturnal imaginings. He had a habit of throwing together short stories he'd written previously into composite tales, novels, or novel series, which he called "fixups." He often favored the use of temporal conundra in his stories, and was interested in totalitarian states, power struggles and inductive reasoning, all of which show up frequently in his works.

His Encyclopedia of Science Fiction article suggests not only that the negative criticism of his work is misplaced, but that many of its unique qualities derive from van Vogt's Canadian-ness. (Although it's probably worth noting that the article is written by John Clute - who is also Canadian.)

Works by this author with their own trope pages include:

This author's other works contain examples of:


Mordecai RichlerAuthorsAlice Munro
Damon KnightDamon Knight Memorial Grand Master AwardJack Vance
Mark L. Van NameSpeculative Fiction Creator IndexJohn Varley

alternative title(s): AE Van Vogt
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