"Far Centaurus"
Short Fiction 1944 8,300 words

Description

The three-man crew of a sleeper ship sent to a star system light years away from Earth is in for a rude awakening when they reach their destination.

Alternate Titles

"The Long Trip"     (1951)

  • This is one of only two stories of van Vogt's stories known to have been based on an idea from John W. Campbell, the other being "The Witch" (1943). In a letter dated June 12th, 1942 — included in the book The John W. Campbell Letters: Volume II — Campbell is discussing with van Vogt the future of space exploration. Campbell lays out the idea of a sleeper ship on its way to another planet being rendered obsolete during its centuries-long journey and the destination planet being colonized via faster-than-light colony ships in the meantime, a situation that shocks the sleeper ship's crew when they finally arrive. Van Vogt would use this idea with only minor modifications.

  • It's a well-known fact that Campbell supplied many ideas to Heinlein (such as the basis for Beyond This Horizon) and Asimov (such as the Foundation series and the Three Laws of Robotics), but van Vogt was the odd man out. I think it speaks volumes for Campbell that he was more interested in creating ideas rather than who got credit for them — a sign of a truly great editor. It also speaks volumes for van Vogt, that he was able to work from his own ideas with such regularity.

  • This story was one of three adapted into the fix-up novel Quest for the Future (1970). Interestingly, none of these stories belonged to any series, making Quest unique among van Vogt's many fix-up novels for containing no previously-related material.

  • The basic idea of this story inspired the comic strip "The Long Trip" (1951).

Versions

1944

original version

1951

comic book adaptation

1970

adapted for fix-up novel
Included In
Destination: Universe! 1952
Quest for the Future 1970
Transfinite: The Essential A.E. van Vogt 2003
English
Astounding Science Fiction magazine
1944 January Street & Smith
digest Vol 32, No 5 180 pages $0.25

cover art by
William Timmins

First appearance

(no illustration images available)

2 illustrations by
Paul Orban

Cover image: Showcase Data: Walwyn
Strange Ports of call anthology
edited by August Derleth 1948, etc.

Abridged in 1958; van Vogt's story was included.

Data: ISFDB
Men Against the Stars anthology
edited by Martin H. Greenberg 1950, etc.

Some editions are abridged; van Vogt's story was included in all of them.

Data: ISFDB
"The Long Trip" (alternate title)
Weird Fantasy magazine
1951 EC Comics
comic Issue #15 36 pages $0.10

cover art by
Al Feldstein

Comic strip, inspired by van Vogt's story. Script by Al Feldstein, art by Al Williamson.

This issue was reprinted at various times down through the years.

This comic series gained a degree of notoriety by featuring tales that were very closely modeled on other author's stories, with no credit given for the source.

Cover image: Grand Comics Database Data: Grand Comics Database
Great Stories of Space Travel anthology
edited by Groff Conklin 1963, etc.
Data: ISFDB
A Spectrum of Worlds anthology
edited by Thomas D. Clareson
1972 Doubleday
hardback 0-385-01657-3 311 pages $5.95

cover artist: unknown

  Data: ISFDB
Deep Space: Eight Stories of Science Fiction anthology
edited by Robert Silverberg 1973, etc.

Some editions of this anthology are printed with a shortened title, as just Deep Space.

Data: ISFDB
The Analog Anthology #1 anthology
edited by Stanley Schmidt 1980, etc.

This anthology was also published as Analog's Golden Anniversary Anthology (1981) and Fifty Years of the Best Science Fiction From Analog (1982).

Data: ISFDB
Analog's Golden Anniversary Anthology anthology
edited by Stanley Schmidt
1981 The Dial Press
hardback 0-8037-0217-5 380 pages $10.95

cover artist: unknown

This anthology was originally published as Analog Anthology #1, and later as Fifty Years of the Best Science Fiction From Analog (1982).

  Data: ISFDB
The Great Science Fiction Stories: Volume 6: 1944 anthology
edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg 1981, etc.

According to the ISFDB, van Vogt's story was not included when this anthology was reprinted as part of the omnibus volume The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Third Series (1984).

Data: ISFDB
Fifty Years of the Best Science Fiction from Analog anthology
edited by Stanley Schmidt
1982 Davis Publications
digest code: ? 380 pages $2.95

cover artist: unknown

This anthology was originally published as Analog Anthology #1, and also as Analog's Golden Anniversary Anthology (1981).

Cover image: ISFDB Data: ISFDB
Starships anthology
edited by Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg & Isaac Asimov 1983, etc.
Data: ISFDB
Six Decades: The Best of Analog anthology
edited by Stanley Schmidt
1986 Davis
digest code: ? 128 pages price: ?

cover artist: unknown

Magazine-style anthology.

  Data: ISFDB
The SFWA Grand Masters: Volume 3 anthology
edited by Frederik Pohl 2001, etc.
Data: ISFDB