(urth) Van Vogt. (Was: Re: I Claudius)

Andy Robertson andywrobertson at clara.co.uk
Thu Sep 7 11:03:30 PDT 2006

Jesper Svedberg writes: 

> Andy Robertson skrev:

> I read Van Vogt's _The Book of Ptath_ a few years back, and it struck me 
> as very similar to BotNS, both in it's mixture of far future sf and 
> mythical elements and in it's voice (of course, Van Vogt isn't as good a 
> writer as Wolfe, but I think he's better than his reputation and better 
> than many of his more famous contemporaries). I haven't read anything 
> else by Van Vogt, so I don't know how similar _Ptath_ is to his other 
> works, but I felt that Wolfe seems to echo many of the concepts in this 
> book, and since it almost was a dying earth it really felt like a 
> potential source for inspiration for Wolfe. (And even if _Ptath_ isn't 
> an inspiration it would seem likely that Wolfe read a lot of Van Vogt 
> when he was young, since Van Vogt was a huge name back then.)

I'd be astonished if Wolfe had not read Van Vogt.   I cannot say if any of 
VV's work was an inspiration to Wolfe, but I think that merely setting it in 
the distant future is not enough. 

TBOTNS is a "Dying Earth" story - a story set in a future in which the Sun 
(and therefore creation itself) has become senile, and reality frays. 

This theme descends (like all SF does, I believe) from ancient Indo-European 
religious and cultural forms, in this case the idea that the Universe is 
cyclically renewed through flood and flame. 

VV, as far as I know, never wrote in this vein.   In fact VV was really 
writing, and wrote again and again (to the point of wearying at least this 
reader),  about quite another ancient Indo-European theme - the idea that a 
man can effectively become a god. 




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