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Review: The Voyage Of The Space Beagle

Updated on June 11, 2014

This book by A E Van Vogt has become a classic science fiction novel. I remember reading this when quite young, I had really just discovered science fiction, having won a book prize at my primary school (age 10-11 at the time). Also a new library had opened in a temporary, pre-fabricated building near to where I lived. I had always loved reading and couldn't wait for my own library card. It was one of the first books which I borrowed from that library. Although I had discovered science fiction through childrens' books like Kemlo And The Crazy Planet, The Voyage Of The Space Beagle sealed my love of the genre.

It had been first published in 1950, actually based on four previous stories published in Sci Fi magazines. The most recent reprint appears to be 2008 according to Wikipedia. In essence it makes refernce to Charles Darwin's voyages in the ship Beagle, and the stories revolve around the ship discovering new and dangerous creatures with some amazing characteristics. These thrilling adventures really imprinted a love of this genre on the mind of a young and impressionable reader.

It could be said to have been a forerunner of those StarTrek stories where intestellar travelling led to the discovery of new and dangerous creatures needing to be fought and destroyed to save the system / galaxy / universe.

Some critics claim the rewriting to make a whole from the four parts did not do the original stories justice and so the novel fails to live up to the short stories / novellas. However, not having read those originals, I can only reiterate, the novel is one of those very few which I remember vividly as an exciting and mind-blowing introduction to the world of the adult science fiction novel.

There is a running battle throughput the four parts by Dr Elliot Grosvenor, who is the only representative of the new science of Nexialism (apparently this is about taking an holistic view of science) in a crew of 1000. His antagonists are the narrow minded traditional scientists. His is the approach which defeats the aliens and eventually saves the ship and the galaxy.

If you love science fiction or if you don't, this novel is a great read.

A.E. Van Vogt (died 2000) was on of the most popular science fiction writers in the middle years of the twentieth century. I have forgotten more of his novels than I care to remember, but his novels were one of the staples of my reading as a young man. I still read the occasional novel by him when I come acoss them.

These three books cover but a fraction of his work, but they are typical and the complex issues raised in his stories make most of them classics of their genre.

Transfinite: The Essential A. E. Van Vogt
Transfinite: The Essential A. E. Van Vogt

25 classic stories from Van Vogt. A chance to catch up with some of his stories including the Space Beagle

The World of Null-A
The World of Null-A

Another of Van Vogt's masterpieces, a very famous and influential novel

The Storm: A Science Fiction Classic
The Storm: A Science Fiction Classic

A shorter story available on kindle if you want an introduction to Van Vogt


The Voyage of the Space Beagle was said to have inspired or been alluded to in many books and films. Two of the most obvious were Star Trek, those episodes wghere outlandish creatures were found which threatened whole galaxies, etc; and Alien. The latter where eggs of the alien creature were implanted in a human host was considered by Van Vogt as plagiarism. He sued the film makers but an out of court settlement was made.

More examples can be found in Wikipedia

10 of the best original Star Trek episodes. It is claimed that some episodes were inspired by the Space Beagle

The film makers were sued for plagiarism by Van Vogt. There was an out of court settlement

Are you a confirmed sci fi fanatic, do you remember A.E. Van Vogt? Have you read this book? Why not share your recollection with the world.

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