"Black Destroyer"
Short Fiction 1939 12,200 words
  • Prior to 1939 van Vogt's output was restricted mostly to creating so-called "confession" stories. Despite the name "confession" these were works of fiction and were often written from the point of view of a woman. (See under "No One to Blame but Herself" for more on these stories.) He was a fervent reader of Amazing Stories under Hugo Gernsback, with the stories of A. Merritt being a particular favorite, but he stopped reading it under the editorship of T. O'Connor Sloane who favored a different style of writing which van Vogt found to be crude and unappealing. In 1938 he chanced upon an issue of Astounding Science Fiction that contained John W. Campbell's story "Who Goes There?" (under the pseudonym Don. A Stuart). Inspired by this intriguing tale, he decided to try his hand at SF. His first story submitted to Campbell was "Vault of the Beast" which was clearly inspired by "Who Goes There?" Although he rejected it Campbell asked for a rewrite, and the story saw publication the following year. In the meantime van Vogt wrote another story, "Black Destroyer," which was accepted and made quite an impression when it first appeared. Soon, his sole output was science fiction and fantasy stories.

  • This story was adapted as a comic in February 1974, in Worlds Unknown (Issue #5). The script was by Roy Thomas and the art by Dan Adkins and Jim Mooney. (Thanks to Tim Stroup for this information.)

Part of the
Space Beagle Series
1 —     "Black Destroyer" 1939
2 —     "Discord in Scarlet" 1939
3 —     "War of Nerves" 1950
4 —     "M33 in Andromeda" 1943

These stories formed the basis of the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950). Most of the scenes featuring Grosvenor and Nexialism were newly added for the novel.

A tiny excerpt from the novel was later published as "Through a Night" (1992).

Versions

1939

original version

1950

adapted for fix-up novel

1974

comic book adaptation
Included In
Mission: Interplanetary 1952
Transfinite: The Essential A.E. van Vogt 2003
The Voyage of the Space Beagle 1950
English
Astounding Science Fiction magazine
1939 July Street & Smith
pulp Vol 23, No 5 164 pages $0.20

cover art by
Graves Gladney

Table of Contents

First appearance

This issue was reprinted as a facsimile edition with commentary in 1981.

The July 1939 issue of Astounding is often used to date the beginning of the "Golden Age" of SF under John W. Campbell, Jr. Featuring the first SF story by A.E. van Vogt, and Asimov's first appearance in Astounding, it was followed the next month by Robert A. Heinlein's first story.

4 illustrations by
F. Kramer

Cover & other images: Walwyn
Illustration images: Walwyn
Data: Walwyn
Adventures in Time and Space anthology
edited by Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas 1946, etc.

Some editions of this anthology are in fact heavily abridged, and the contents differ from edition to edition. As far as I can tell, "Black Destroyer" was included in all of these abridgements and retitlements, while some of van Vogt's other stories were not ("Asylum" and "The Weapon Shop").

Data: ISFDB
Selections from Adventures in Time and Space anthology
edited by Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas 1954, etc.

Abridged edition of the 1946 anthology.

Data: ISFDB
Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time and Space anthology
edited by Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas 1957, etc.

Alternate title for the 1946 anthology.

Data: ISFDB
First Flight anthology
edited by Damon Knight 1963, etc.

An expanded edition of this anthology was released in 1981.

Data: ISFDB
Now Begins Tomorrow anthology
edited by Damon Knight
1969 November Lancer
paperback 74-585 160 pages $0.75

(no cover art)

Alternate title for Knight's First Flight anthology.

An expanded edition of this anthology was released in 1981.

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Worlds Unknown magazine
1974 February
comic Issue #5 36 pages $0.20

cover art by
Dan Adkins

Comic book adaptation. Script by Roy Thomas, art by Dan Adkins and Jim Mooney.

Cover image: Tim Stroup Data: Grand Comics Database
Science Fiction Novellas anthology
edited by Harry Harrison & Willis E. McNelly
1975 Charles Scribner's Sons
trade 0-684-13847-6 255 pages price: ?

cover art by
Jack Gaughan

Cover image: Chris Drumm Data: ISFDB
Novella: 3 anthology
edited by Ben Bova
1978 Orbit
paperback 0-7088-8015-0 159 pages £0.85

cover art by
Chris Foss

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
The Road to Science Fiction: Volume 2: From Wells to Heinlein anthology
edited by James Gunn 1979, etc.
Data: ISFDB
The Great Science Fiction Stories: Volume 1: 1939 anthology
edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg 1979, etc.

This anthology was later republished as Great Science Fiction Stories of 1939

Data: ISFDB
Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939 anthology
edited by Martin H. Greenberg
1981 February Southern Illinois University Press
hardback 0-8093-0991-2 180 pages $12.95

cover art by
Graves Gladney

Facsimile reprint of the July 1939 issue of Astounding, widely considered to be the single most important issue of any SF magazine ever published. Includes special commentary from various authors.

4 illustrations by
F. Kramer

Cover image: Amazon
Illustration images: Walwyn
Data: ISFDB
First Voyages anthology
edited by Damon Knight & Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander
1981 May Avon
paperback 0-380-77586-7 373 pages $2.95

cover artist: unknown

Greatly expanded edition of Knight's anthology First Flight [aka Now Begins Tomorrow]

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction omnibus
edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg
1983 Bonanza / Crown
hardback 0-517-40147-9 782 pages price: ?

cover art by
Romas

Omnibus containing the 1939 and 1940 volumes of Asimov & Greenberg's anthologies covering the "Golden Years" of SF.

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Things Hunting Men anthology
edited by David Drake
1988 June Baen
paperback 0-671-65412-8 307 pages $3.50

cover art by
Pat Ortega

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Monsters anthology
edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh 1988, etc.

Not to be confused with van Vogt's collection of the same name.

Data: ISFDB
Cats in Space and Other Places anthology
edited by Bill Fawcett
1992 May Baen
paperback 0-671-72118-6 407 pages $4.99

cover art by
Dean Morrissey

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Great Science Fiction Stories of 1939 anthology
edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg
2001 Dorset
trade 0-7607-2417-2 432 pages $9.95

cover artist: unknown

Alternate title for The Great Science Fiction Stories: Volume 1: 1939

  Data: ISFDB
The SFWA Grand Masters: Volume 3 anthology
edited by Frederik Pohl 2001, etc.
Data: ISFDB
The World Turned Upside Down anthology
edited by Jim Baen & David Drake & Eric Flint 2005, etc.
Data: ISFDB
Classic Sci-Fi: Stories From the Greatest Science Fiction Authors of All Time anthology
edited by David Lynch
2012 April Lynch Digital Publishing
ebook - - $0.99

cover artist: unknown

Formats:

Cover image: Amazon Data: Walwyn