This is a book I first read over thirty years ago and thought I remembered well enough, but apparently not. I have just reread it and it’s still fantastic.

I was a bit worried when it brought technology in but apart from a woeful underestimation of a rapid travelling space ship, it wasn’t too bad. In 1946 I expect 300mph seemed fast.

The story is set in the future and the Slans of the title are mutated humans that have developed superior physical and intellectual ability and the telepathic ability of reading minds. As such they are hated and feared by humanity who are intent on destroying them. Young nine-year old Jommy Cross, the Slan of the story, is quickly orphaned and has to survive in the brutal human world until he can come into his maturity and fulfil his destiny. Pitted against him are the “evil” humans who are mercilessly trying to destroy him and all his kind. Van Vogt’s writing is often beautiful with description which is almost Dickensian. Here’s a quote from early on in the story when Jommy is still a child and has been captured by the utterly evil and self-serving Granny.

“It struck him that he had never seen a face that more nearly expressed the malignant character that lay behind the mask of old flesh. With rising disgust he compared her thin, lined, egg-shaped head with the mind inside; and it was all there. Every twisted line in that wrecked face had its counterpart in the twisted brain.”

This is a science fiction world written in a pre-computer age, so his citizens still read newspapers. Now tablets and kindles are taking over, and I doubt if paper books will survive except on the library shelves of Alberto Stiletto. However, it is available in both print and on kindle.

Will Jommy attain his destiny and save the Slan world? A hopefully not forgotten Sci Fi classic that is well deserving of your attention.


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