Размер шрифта:     
Цвет фона:      
Режим чтения: F11  |  Добавить закладку: Ctrl+D
Следующая страница: Ctrl+→  |  Предыдущая страница: Ctrl+←
Показать все книги автора/авторов: Вогт Альфред

«The World of Null-A», Alfred van Vogt

The World of Null-A

Author’s Introduction

Reader, in your hands you hold one of the most controversial—and successful—novels in the whole of science fiction literature.

In these introductory remarks, I am going to tell about some of the successes and I shall also detail what the principal critics said about The World of Null-A. Let me hasten to say that what you shall read is no acrimonious defense. In fact, I have decided to take the criticisms seriously, and I have accordingly revised this first Berkley edition and have provided the explanations which for so long I believed to be unnecessary.

Before I tell you of the attacks, I propose swiftly to set down a few of The World of Null-A’s successes:

It was the first hard-cover science fiction novel published by a major publisher after World War II (Simon and Schuster, 1948).

It won the Manuscripters Club award.

It was listed by the New York area library association among the hundred best novels of 1948.

Jacques Sadoul, in France, editor of Editions OPTA, has stated that World of Null-A, when first published, all by itself created the French science fiction market. The first edition sold over 25,000 copies. He has stated that I am still—in 1969—the most popular writer in France in terms of copies sold.

Its publication stimulated interest in General Semantics. Students flocked to the Institute of General Semantics, Lakewood, Connecticut, to study under Count Alfred Korzybski—who allowed himself to be photographed reading The World of Null-A. Today, General Semantics, then a faltering science, is taught in hundreds of universities.

World has been translated into nine languages.

With that out of the way, we come to the attacks. As you’ll see, they’re more fun, make authors madder, and get readers stirred up.

Here is what Sam Moskowitz, in his brief biography of the author, said in his book, Seekers of Tomorrow, about what was wrong with World of Null-A: “. . . Bewildered Gilbert Gosseyn, mutant with a double mind, doesn’t know who he is and spends the entire novel trying to find out.” The novel was originally printed as a serial in Astounding Science Fiction, and after the final installment was published (Mr. Moskowitz continues), “Letters of plaintive puzzlement began to pour in. Readers didn’t understand what the story was all about. Campbell [the editor] advised them to wait a few days; it took that long, he suggested, for the implications to sink in. The days turned into months, but clarification never came—”

You’ll admit that’s a tough set of sentences to follow. Plain, blunt-spoken Sam Moskowitz, whose knowledge of science fiction history and whose collection of science fiction probably is topped only by that of Forrest Ackerman (in the whole universe) . . . is nevertheless in error. The number of readers who wrote “plaintive” letters to the editor can be numbered on the fingers of one and a half hands.

However, Moskowitz might argue that it isn’t the quantity of complainers, but the quality. And there he has a point.

Shortly after The World of Null-A was serialized in 1945, a sci-fi fan, hitherto unknown to me, wrote in a science fiction fan magazine a long and powerful article attacking the novel and my work in general up to that time. The article concluded, as I recall it (from memory only) with the sentence: “Van Vogt is actually a pygmy writer working with a giant typewriter.”

The imagery throughout this article, meaningless though that particular line is (if you’ll think about it), induced me to include in my answering article in a subsequent issue of the same fan magazine—which article is lost to posterity—the remark that I foresaw a brilliant writing career for the young man who had written so poetical an attack.

That young writer eventually developed into the science fictional genius, Damon Knight, who—among his many accomplishments—a few years ago organized the Science Fiction Writers of America, which (though it seems impossible) is still a viable organization.

Of Knight’s attack so long ago, Galaxy Magazine critic Algis Budrys wrote in his December, 1967, book review column: “In this edition [of critical essays] you will find among other goodies from the earlier version, the famous destruction of A. E. van Vogt that made Damon’s reputation.”

What other criticisms of The World of Null-A are there? None. It’s a fact. Singlehandedly, Knight took on this novel and my work at age 23-1/2, and, as Algis Budrys puts it, brought about my “destruction.”

So what’s the problem? Why am I now revising World? Am I doing all this for one critic?


Еще несколько книг в жанре «Социально-психологическая фантастика»

МЫ – ТЕРРОРИСТЫ, Дмитрий Володихин Читать →