Friday, November 25, 2011

A E van Vogt's "Slan" (novel, adventure): Supermen hunted by men

Cover image of the novel Slan by A E van Vogt
Leave your brains somewhere, & enjoy a generally gripping adventure on earth & Mars.

Story summary.

Humanity is divided into 3 races: normal humans, "true slans", & "tendrilless slans". "True slans" are carefully bred intellectual & physical supermen from natural human mutations. "Tendrilless slans" are carefully mutated form of "true slans" - they don't have tell-tale "golden" tendrils in their hair that act as telepathic antennae in "true slans", & they're'nt telepathic. It's these tendrils that sets "true slans" visually apart from normal humans, &
makes them easy hate targets - hence "tendrilless slans".

This is the story of Jommy Cross, 9 year old when we first meet him. His mother has just been killed for being a slan; he's being hunted to be killed. We'll see him growing up in a world that hates him for being what he is, but like a true hero, he never stoops to becoming an animal in spite of his superhuman abilities.

We'll also meet Kathleen Layton, a 13 year old who's also on the death row for being a slan; her story will abruptly end partway through & later return in a totally crazy way.


  1. The word "slan" is a sort of shortening of "Samuel Lann". He's the semi-mythical man who arranged conditions for first "true slans" to breed in numbers.

See also.

  1. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Mutant" series of short stories (most are online): Far more thoughtful exploration of similar idea & plot.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, Sep/Oct/Nov/Dec 1940.
Rating: B.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of A E van Vogt.