Monday, 4 August 2014

'The Weapon Shop' - A.E. van Vogt

The great thing about my copy of 'The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Volume One, 1929-1964)' is that, with some quick short story reading, I can say that I've read at least one story by a golden age sci-fi writer. I still have a lot of reading to do but the gaps are being filled in a little bit at a time…
A.E. van Vogt is one of those authors that I have never read… until now :o) My copy of 'Earth's Last Fortress' is hiding somewhere in the study (despite the bookshelf culling that has been ongoing this week) so I thought I'd give 'The Weapon Shop' a go instead.

I always feel like it's somehow my fault if a story by a 'classic sci-fi' writer doesn't work for me; like everyone else has spotted what made the story great and I'm the odd one out. You guessed it, 'The Weapon Shop' didn't work for me, not at all. While I liked the exploration of the cycle of tyranny and democracy (and how we rail against a system of leadership that we are ultimately responsible for) it felt awfully rushed and squeezed into too small a space; like an outline for a much longer work. Funnily enough, 'The Weapon Shops of Isher' novel was born out of the merging of this short story and two others. I find myself with no urge to read it though, not if the characters are as one dimensional as they were here - there to illustrate Vogt's points rather than have any agency of their own.

For me, 'The Weapon Shop' is one of those stories that is very thoughtful but ends up being so thoughtful that the characters get lost in the authors earnest musings and nothing really seems to happen. Fara Clark starts at A and ends at Z but I couldn't tell how the plot got him there. A good read then it that it makes you think a little but one hell of a slog at the same time. I'll still give 'Earths Last Fortress' a read, once I find it, but I can't see myself re-visiting this story (or the novel it became) any time soon. Has anyone here read 'The Weapon Shops of Isher'? What did you think of it?

1 comment:

  1. I read it back in the 70s, loved it, and the sequel. Read them both a few time many decades ago. I re-read it again about 2 years ago and couldn't for the life of me work out what I had seen in them. I struggled to finish the 120 odd pages. It's the first book I've re-read from my teens that disappointed me so much.