Renaissance by AE Van Vogt (book review).

One thing you can say about New English Library, they always had wonderful covers although not necessarily related to the contents. Then again, reading the back cover, the plot precis gets a plot element wrong. More on that next paragraph.

This reality has women in charge and men kept under control by chemically treated glasses. The back cover says one man discovers the flaw but the content explains that his glasses were cracked by a dissident group. Peter Grayson, physicist at the Haskett Manufacturing Laboratories suddenly finds the sex appeal of his boss, despite being married and then becomes a busy boy waiting for his glasses to be repaired.

So far so good but then the story takes a weird swing. Throughout there is mention of the Utt, which I assumed what the name of the type of government the women were running and in the latter chapters this turns out to be an alien influence. Grayson then gets directed to sort that out. It’s almost as though Van Vogt was told or realised that he needed to up the SF ante and squeeze it into 160 pages and the story takes a twist from where the start of the plot was going. Then again, he might be employing his 800 word story chunks again.

Having women in charge has been done in other stories. I have read critics thinking Van Vogt couldn’t write women well and although the accent here is on Grayson and how much could be done about bed gymnastics back in the day, he does a good job on implication.

Probably not one of Van Vogt’s best books but you’re not going to find out until you read one for comparison.

GF Willmetts

June 2022

(pub: New English Library, 1979. 159 page paperback. Price: I pulled a copy for about £ 2.00 (UK). ISBN: 450-04969-8)

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