by A. E. Van Vogt (1946)
Slan is a science fiction novel written by A. E. van Vogt, as well as the name of the fictional race of superbeings featured in the novel. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction (September – December 1940). It was subsequently published in hardcover in 1946 by Arkham House, in an edition of 4,051 copies. In 2016, Slan was awarded the Retro-Hugo Award for Best Novel for 1941.
This is being read for the Sword and Laser book pick of November 2016,
Despite being written in 1946, this feels like a very modern author.
It starts with an intriguing premise, of what appears to be a genetically altered population of humans living on earth. What was interesting was the authors explanation of the technology involved, especially as the structure of DNA would not be discovered until 1953 by Watson and Crick. There is is lot of interesting science fiction ideas in the book, but a rather naive view of how the power structures in society work.
The main problem is that it doesn’t come together as a very cohesive story. It switches between characters but doesn’t move the plot along. There is a strange segment of the story near the end where I think it is set in a spaceship, but the activity described appears to be on the ground. Then there is a twist at the end and the book ends with a massive info-dump.
It has been published numerous times in the last 60 years, with a lot of different covers, shown below.