The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. Van Vogt


Space Opera The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. Van VogtThe Voyage of the Space BeagleA. E. van Vogt; Orb 2008WorldCatThe Space Beagle is on an exploration voyage across space. The crew is looking for new habitable planets across the galaxy. The ship is full of scientists and military men. There is one new science field also represented with only one scientist. Grosvenor is the only Nexialist on the ship. Nexialists are trained with special neurological and hypnotic sessions. Nexialism looks at the over all picture of the different sciences, seeing different answers to problems and experiments. Each scientific field – physics, chemistry, engineering, archeology, etc., each do excellent work but tend look at solutions only from their own specialty and viewpoint. The Nexialist puts them all together and finds ways to work that uses the best of each field.

Although by this time humans had been traveling in space for hundreds of years, these men are not prepared for the other beings they meet on this voyage. The run into different species who are on the edge of extinction. It takes all of the scientific fields to find ways to protect themselves and their ship. Grosvenor had little respect at the beginning of the voyage and more than one “enemy” – scientists who view him as a “he thinks he knows it all” upstart. By the end, most of them turn to him for some answers.

The Voyage of the Space Beagle wears well. A.E. Van Vogt carefully avoided some scientific questions that couldn’t be answered in 1950 when The Voyage of the Space Beagle was published. For example, Van Vogt mentions that humans solve the faster-than-light question. But the author doesn’t bother to tell the reader how it works. Instead, The Voyage of the Space Beagle is a tale of adventure and philosophy mixed up together.

A Nexialist does what a Project Manager does for a process. Grosvenor is highly trained and tries to share his knowledge and views with his shipmates. Van Vogt uses Grosvenor’s point of view most of the time, but he also looks at the humans from the alien creatures’ point of view. He delves into the creatures’ minds as they try to survive.

There are also the human politics on the Space Beagle. The scientists are in charge of the mission, the military fly the space ship and are there for protection as needed. The two groups see life differently. They each believe on running the mission in different manners. When they are attacked, both groups take different methods to solve the problem. Fortunately, when they have to work together, they listen to the Nexialist.

Yes, The Voyage of the Space Beagle is (probably – I didn’t research this to prove it) titled on purpose. Darwin’s voyage that helped him develop his evolution theory was on the Beagle. The book he wrote about the journey was called The Voyage of the Beagle. The crew on the Space Beagle are on a similar trip of exploration.

The Voyage of the Space Beagle isn’t fast paced, but it doesn’t stop, either. It was probably written in parts for a serial magazine – perhaps one of John Campbell’s? I enjoyed it and was able to ignore the few anachronistic science facts.  Good books are ageless. Someday men will be in outer space and that may finally age Van Vogt’s novel. Until then, enjoy this bit of classic fiction.

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