Van Vogt has written a lot, and other books are touted as his best, but I chose this one because I loved the title. As a biology major, every class I took started with a recap of Charles Darwin’s fateful voyage on The Beagle. As the classes progressed, I got the feeling the teachers were bored with the introduction, and added increasing amounts of Darwinian trivia. His wife was a Wedgewood heiress. That’s one I remember.
It seemed a worthy vessel to take into space. I’m not the only one who thought that, either. Did you ever wonder where Star Trek got its officers, decks, communicators, shields, and star dates from? Did you ever wonder where the idea of the monstrous little alien eating its way through its host came from in Alien? This book!
That being said, not much more is offered than very cool ideas. The stories, writing, and characterizations are boring, and sometimes painful. In self-defense, I skimmed the last part of the book, a compilation of five original Space Beagle stories written between 1939 and 1943.
Clever ideas will hold their own over time, but good writing would be an added bonus.