Sunday, June 3, 2012

A E van Vogt's "The War Against the Rull" (fix-up novel)

Cover image of the fix up novel The War Against the Rull by A E van Vogt
This is collection of mostly good but not outstanding stories that would have been better left as a short story collection; changes made to accommodate the fix up actually make this book less than what it would have been as a collection of included short stories.

Stories mostly involve 3 species: Man who's at war with rull who are invaders from another galaxy. And ezwal whose world man has grabbed for "strategic" reasons in war against the rull. My first impression was that Man stand for US; rull for communists; & ezwal for ... was it Korea? But these stories all predate US/USSR stand off, & I'm not sure where exactly the author edited for fix-up. But it still reads well as this cold war story!

My notes below are essentially on short stories comprising this fix-up, though they're not named as such in fix-up. But in one or two cases, this fix-up is the only version of the stories I've read. In other cases, I read the original short story long ago but my description is probably more influenced by their fix-up version.

Some of the stories are online. I include links when I'm aware of them.
  1. [novelette] "Co-Operate - Or Else!"; download; Astounding, April 1942: Ever since man invaded ezwal world as a strategic war asset, the telepathic ezwal have been fighting a guerrilla rebellion - picking off man at will, but pretending themselves to be animals. When a captured ezwal was being transported to earth, he wrecked the ship & ended up stranded with a man on an uninhabited world - the man who now knows the secret that ezwal are sentient. This is the story of forced cooperation of the two on this dangerous world, or both will die.
  2. [novelette] "Repetition" aka "The Gryb"; Astounding, April 1940: An adventure on the moon of ezwal world whose highlights are two clever hunts with unusual weapons: one of grazers for meat by a improvised stick the animals are tricked to eat that causes internal hemorrhage, & second of a hunting animal tricked to cut its tongue (on a fixed knife) enough to bleed to death.

    This story is unrelated to everything else in the book.

    Note: ISFDB notes '"The Gryb" was a new (standalone) story with this book, and not reprinted independently until 1976.' Yet lists it as from Astouning, April 1940!
  3. [novelette] "The Second Solution"; download;Astounding , October 1942: A mother & a child ezwal, captured by man, are now being transported to earth. A gunfight on ship will kill the mother; child will survive the shipwreck on earth & escape in the wilds. Story is of its hunt by Man & of its eventual capture with the help of the man who knows ezwal are telepathic & sentient, & wants them to alley with man.
  4. [novelette] "The Green Forest"; Astounding, June 1949: Rull have a device that lets them appear in any shape - in this case, as specific men, so long as you don't try touching them! And they have an unusual technique for implanting hypnotic suggestions in a man: via especially etched pictures on surfaces like walls!
    This is the story of our hero, tricked by these agents to go to a dangerous frontier world where they have a plan to kill him while making the death appear natural! Of course, hero will escape, killing the agents instead.
  5. [novelette] "The Sound"; Astounding, February 1950: A star ship is being built somewhere on earth to eventually go to another galaxy to look for Rull world. A ship that will take a lifetime to build, is the size of a city, & the future crew is already living there. And, of course, the place is teeming with rull agents posing as humans using their clever device.

    This is the story of a young boy busting an operation involving many Rull agents, with some help from human military & from telepathic ezwal captured in "The Second Solution".
  6. [novelette] "The Rull"; Astounding, May 1948: Hero is stranded on an uninhabited world with rull supremo! Each has fancy hypnotic devices. Eventually, man will plant a suggestion in rull's mind to end the war & begin a conquest of some galaxy other than Milky Way!

Fact sheet.

First published: 1959.
Related: Stories of A E van Vogt.