Accueil > A. E. van Vogt > THE 14 VAN VOGT NOVELS ON THIS SITE, in chronological order > "The House That Stood Still" (1950) by A.E. van Vogt

"The House That Stood Still" (1950) by A.E. van Vogt

samedi 4 janvier 2020, par A. E. van Vogt

We are in California in a coastal town in the late forties, and a hard-working young lawyer (and ex-Marine) hears screams somewhere in the building as he is leaving his office around midnight. Rushing upstairs to deal vigorously with the problem, he gets rapidly involved with a group of cultists, with the powers that control the city, with the multi-millionaire whose ancient house overlooking the Pacific is at the centre of all of the many dramas in the story, with a series of murders, with the police and last but not least with the strikingly beautiful young lady whose screams started everything off on page 1.

First published in a hard-copy edition in 1950 [1], this 49,000-word novel was soon afterwards reprinted in pulp-fiction format (dramatic colour cover and artwork, large A4.5 size, 25¢ price) in the November 1951 issue of Detective Book Magazine, a most appropriate publication in view of all the detective work that is undertaken to unravel the intertwined strands of the story’s many mysteries and the overall whodunit tone of the tale, culminating in a final Hercule Poirot-type group confrontation worthy of the great pundit himself.

But this is van Vogt and this is California and this is the golden age of science fiction, so there are also spaceships, an alien robot, miraculous radioactive therapies, atomic weapons and warfare, mind-reading and much question of future science.

Although Mr. van Vogt was Canadian of birth and upbringing, he certainly could capture well the atmosphere of the California life-style of then and even now, witness the following citations from this opus :

 But the scream was explained. It became a simple product of one of the innumerable cults whose members moaned and groaned and cried and shrieked in every sizable town along the west coast.

 “What the hell," he said vaguely, "is the matter with California ? Nutty cults everywhere you look."

 The bungalow was a Tannahill property, set back from the coast highway. It was isolated from other nearby residences by a series of low hills ; it had a heated swimming pool, a three-car garage and four bedrooms, each with private bath. He had rented the place to himself for sixty-five dollars a month.

 He picked up the phone, dialed the airport, and chartered a plane to take him to Los Angeles at midnight that night.

(49,000 words)

An e-book of this very original tale is available for downloading below.

The House That Stood Still (e-book)

[11950 was an extraordinarily productive year for van Vogt, in which he published four novels, six stories and his first anthology, Masters of Time that, although it was touted as a novel – see above –, contained (only) two previously-published and quite independent stories, Recruiting Station (renamed for the occasion Masters of Time) and The Changeling.