Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Book of Ptath - A.E. van Vogt

The Deal: At this point in time, due to an RSI, I can only type for 10 minutes at a time. What you see below is what is hammered out before the timer goes off- and nothing more.

buy - author wiki

What? Tess, you're breaking with the established format. Start with the dumb photo of you hiding behind the book and the finger puppet doing the work, then do your blathering!

This book is...special. This book I selected for entirely the wrong reasons. I like to poke around mum and dad's shelves now and then, as they have heaps of old science fiction and fantasy books that they both devoured while in university, and when it comes down to it, old books are just interesting as objects. The cover designs appeal to the audience of a different era, and so when I pulled this from the shelf, I was, shall we say, struck.

Wait, let me zoooooom in.

Just look at that a while. None of the puppets deigned to pose for this photo. I even pulled out my big camera, because the webcam certainly wasn't going to do it justice. Now, if you were the one pulling that off the shelf, would you be able to put it back?

No, no you wouldn't. You'd be so appalled the desire to know if the story was equal to it would consume you also, and you'd damn well take it home and read it. I mean, seriously, it has nipples. There's no way a book cover would get away with all that nipple today.

At no point does he have horns.

Or an eye in his chest.

Or a leopard skin cloak.

Probably did have a loincloth while I wasn't paying attention though.

And there was a nice woman, and there was an evil woman. Totally. They fawned on him too.

And I don't like to say this about any book, because books are hard fucking work. They take a long time to write, there's heart and life and stress and love and hate in a book. van Vogt himself played, from a glance at the wiki, no small part in the Golden Age, so clearly he has something going for him.

But, damn. This book is a piece of shit. I was equal parts bored and appalled. The cover is the best part.

Verdict: I am not the target audience, and I know and understand this, and it is STILL a piece of shit.


  1. Van Vogt was a better short story writer than a novelist. Which said, I recommend Voyage of the Space Beagle ("Black Destroyer" was inspired by On the Origin of Species) and the original Empire of the Atom stories (loosely based on I, Claudius). I've also heard good things about The Weapon Shops of Isher.

  2. Van Vogt was a nut. Appreciating his place in the history of science fiction is okay. Liking him is entirely optional and unless you've got a good argument ready in your pocket, maybe even a little suspicious.

  3. >Liking him is entirely optional
    This is true of every writer.

    >and unless you've got a good argument ready in your pocket, maybe even a little suspicious.
    A suspicious sentiment in itself.

  4. I don't think I'll be reading him again. I pressed on for the whole book looking for something that I could say I appreciated/liked/enjoyed, and there was nothing. He just doesn't do it for me. Never mind.

  5. ArthurMiller@OUSalesperson14/12/09 13:03

    I honestly think you could get nipples on a book cover today if you wanted to. They currently adorn McDonald's cups and my suggestion that this was odd for a image conscious, "family friendly" corporation was met with a collective shrug. I suspect the response would be the same so long as the book was being marketed as pulp.

    (I have not being obsessing over this. Not at all.)

  6. ...wait, what?

    Clearly I don't pay enough attention to Maccas cups, because that surprises me significantly.

  7. Well...the best book in the world would be considered shit by those who lack the intelligence to understand and appreciate what they are reading. Unless it has lots of pretty pictures in it. But then again, really, I hope you realize, it's not the book that's shit, rather the inadequate primitive mind of the so called "critic". Just like the people who, when confronted with the reality that they lack the mental capacity to fully understand and excel at math, rationalize their failure by telling themselves and everybody else that in fact they "don't like" or "hate" math. It is not unusual that this statement will even be uttered with pride, as if it is a really cool accomplishment. “I hate math! It’s stupid!” or “This book is shit!!( Except for the pretty picture on the cover)!” It is a simple self defence mechanism of the mind, meant to boost self esteem and maintain motivation in spite of the obvious shortcomings. Smokers also defend their addiction with similar “feel good” rationalizations as “I do it cuz it’s cool”, or they say they smoke because they “like it” not because they are addicted. Doing something that gradually cripples you is just about as “cool” as being stupid. But both categories flaunt it. Van Vogt is considered one of the best sf writers that ever graced the earth with their presence, but pearls really are wasted if thrown to pigs.

  8. I totally agree with Livia. Even more, I consider Van Vogt surpasses SF and he is a very high level mind.
    I consider some of his books the begining of the Transmutalism movement.