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The Violent Man by A.E. Van Vogt

The Violent Man by A.E. Van Vogt


New York : Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1962. First printing. Hardcover. 375 pages ; 22 cm. $4.95 dust jacket. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.


A. E. van Vogt for over twenty years has been recognized as one of the top science-fiction authors. His new novel, set against the background of Red China, is the first non-science fiction by this talented writer.

The Violent Man is the story of Seal Ruxton, a highly intelligent and resourceful American man of action who is confronted by a peculiarly 20th-century dilemma—to become Red or dead. After his capture in China, Ruxton is sentenced to death. Then his execution is deferred for two years while he is "taught" to turn himself into a Communist. With 22 other captives, among them a French priest and a U. S. flier, Ruxton learns what it really means to have to choose death or life-in-death.

The ultimate fate of the group marks the climax of one of the most gripping narratives of sustained suspense to appear in years. The unusual ending grows out of die author's observation of a remarkable male type, the "violent" man of the tide. The relationship of this type of man with a woman (and with women) is integral to the book; some of Ruxton's most dramatic encounters are with Mrs. Mai, wife of the commandant, and Tosti, her Japanese maid.

The full significance of Red double-talk and double-think, the reasoning behind mass executions, and the true nature of the notorious Hsio Hsi or "group-criticism" technique are brilliantly revealed in the day by day events in the prison camp. In Seal Ruxton the author has created an "original." It will amaze the reader almost as much as it does Ruxton when, under the terrible stress of a sentence of death, he slowly becomes aware that he too, like the Communist fanatic, is a "violent" man.

A. E. VAN VOGT, who was born in Manitoba, Canada, now resides permanently in Los Angeles. He is married to E. Mayne Hull, who is also a writer. His main interests are the mental sciences. Of The Violent Man he writes: "It seemed to me that a story about Communist China was alien enough to make me feel at home writing it, and present-day enough to make people feel at home with me. Now that I have taken the big step of writing a non-science fiction story, I hope my subconscious will go along."

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