Slan Hunter by A.E van Vogt & Kevin J. Anderson
A.E. van Vogt always intended to write a sequel to his most famous novel, the Retro-Hugo Award winning Slan. But by the time he got around to it, decades after publishing Slan, he had started to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. van Vogt’s wife, Lydia, gave her husband’s notes to Kevin J. Anderson, who wrote Slan Hunter and published it in 2007. Slan Hunter picks up right after the events of Slan and, if I hadn’t known better, I wouldn’t have realized the change in authorship.
At the beginning of the story we meet a husband and wife who are on the way to the hospital to deliver a baby on the same night in which the climactic events occurred at the end of Slan. (Which you’ll need to read first.) The city is in chaos and there are soldiers everywhere, including in the hospital. Things go poorly for the new family and they get caught up in the crisis.
Meanwhile, Jommy, Kathleen, and the Kier Gray are in the dungeon, having been discovered by traitors who are working with the Tendriless Slan (based on Mars) to overthrow the government. Jommy and his allies will need to escape, then work with old and new friends to fight off the invaders. Fortunately, they have a friend amongst the Tendriless Slan and they are still hoping that true Slan allies may show up to help. As they work together they will gain more knowledge about the technology that the Slan have developed as well as the genetics of the Slan race. Then there’s a surprising twist at the end of the story.
I enjoyed Slan Hunter until the very end. It’s an exciting adventure that moves quickly and never becomes dull. Some of it is unbelievable and events at the end were even a bit corny, but I expected that. The pacing is better than that of Slan.
The solution at the end of the story — how they decided to deal with their enemies — seemed completely unethical to me, making Slan Hunter feel like it was written in 1940 (as Slan was) instead of 2007. It also makes the reader realize that maybe the people he’s been rooting for all this time aren’t such great people after all. They’re racially prejudiced and think of themselves as superior. Though I suppose their motives are good, they force their will on the “inferior” race and don’t seem to realize that this is unethical. The end was a problem for me.
I’d like to give a shout-out to my favorite character in Slan Hunter: a librarian who, while there’s an air raid going on and the whole city is in chaos, stays in the library to calmly tend the books and keep order. I loved him.
Slan Hunter includes an introduction by Lydia van Vogt that really pulled at my heartstrings as she described van Vogt’s advancing Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s quite touching.
The audio version of Slan Hunter was produced by Books on Tape in 2007. Scott Brick gives a great performance.