from WORLDS BEYOND, January 1951, Vol. 1 #2 pp. 101-102
"The Dissecting Table"
Criticism of current science-fantasy books by Damon Knight
THE VOYAGE OF THE SPACE BEAGLE, by A. E. van Vogt; Simon & Schuster, $2.50. MASTERS OF TIME, by A. E. van Vogt; Fantasy Press, $3.00.
As those who read last issue's review of THE HOUSE THAT STOOD STILL may have
inferred, this department's thesis on van Vogt is (a)
that the man has a very respectable talent as a writer,
and (b) that he consistently misuses it. The present two
volumes offer valuable supporting evidence , for VOYAGE OF THE SPACE BEAGLE
consists largely of van Vogt's earliest work, two
novelettes originally entitled BLACK DESTROYER and
DISCORD IN SCARLET; while the two stories in MASTERS OF
TIME, the title story, originally called RECRUITING
STATION, and CHANGELING,
represent his later period. Both BLACK DESTROYER and
DISCORD IN SCARLET deal with extra-terrestrial beings
encountered by an exploratory spaceship from Earth.
In each case, the beast concerned is highly intelligent
and powerful, is the last of his race, and is motivated
by the urgent necessity to capture the Earth ship and use
it to reach a habitable planet where it can reproduce and
eventually re-conquer the galaxy. As menaces, the
black cat-creature and the four-armed red humanoid are
vivid and convincing; the stories of their attacks on the
ship and its crew are straightforward, logical, intensely
from WORLDS BEYOND Vol. l #3, February 1959
"The Dissecting Table" by Damon Knight, pg. 94
THE WORLD OF NULL-A, by A. E. van Vogt; Grosset & Dunlap , $1.00.
This widely-read novel began its career
as a pretentious, foolish, wildly complicated and
self-contradictory magazine serial. In the
hard-cover version, a ruthless pruning and trimming job
is evident: whole sections of irrelevant material have
been lifted out in toto, motivations and relationships
have been patched into some kind of coherent shape, and
many of the objectionable features of van Vogt's magazine
style--the inversions, repetitions, overemphasis and
mangled grammar--have been smoothed out. All of
these were encumbrances to the story's one virtue, its
powerful, exciting movement.