Friday, 3 February 2017

the voyage of the space beagle

On Sunday 30th October I finished The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A E Van Vogt. It was okay. It may be most notable now for the fact that the film Alien is supposed to have drawn on it, sufficiently that I think money had to change hands, but I'd say that's a bit harsh: there are certainly elements and themes from two of the episodes in the book which you can also see in Alien, but I wouldn't have said they were sufficiently distinctive to have never appeared anywhere else or to be copyrightable.

Like a lot of old science fiction - well, like a lot of science fiction from any time, but it's easier to see the older it is - it tells you a lot about the time it was written in its imagining of the future, and in this one it's the idea that a social science theory will develop which will work as a kind of unified theory under which all human behaviour will be understandable and controllable. This comes up quite often, although of course with quite different ideas of what that theory will be, but all of them seeming old-fashioned and leaving you wondering how anyone found the idea plausible.