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Children of Tomorrow

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Welcome home, Space Commander Lane. We know you've had a difficult time this past year evading those enigmatic, hostile aliens you encountered out there in the unmapped spaces between the stars. But you've also been gone a total of 10 yrs.-- and things have changed back here on earth. Take spaceport now—it's a special city with peculiar problems all its own. So we kids had Welcome home, Space Commander Lane. We know you've had a difficult time this past year evading those enigmatic, hostile aliens you encountered out there in the unmapped spaces between the stars. But you've also been gone a total of 10 yrs.-- and things have changed back here on earth. Take spaceport now—it's a special city with peculiar problems all its own. So we kids had to organize and take care of each other—because our dads have been gone too long, and they'll be just as surprised as you when they return. You see, we have the power now. Cover art by Bruce Pennington.


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Welcome home, Space Commander Lane. We know you've had a difficult time this past year evading those enigmatic, hostile aliens you encountered out there in the unmapped spaces between the stars. But you've also been gone a total of 10 yrs.-- and things have changed back here on earth. Take spaceport now—it's a special city with peculiar problems all its own. So we kids had Welcome home, Space Commander Lane. We know you've had a difficult time this past year evading those enigmatic, hostile aliens you encountered out there in the unmapped spaces between the stars. But you've also been gone a total of 10 yrs.-- and things have changed back here on earth. Take spaceport now—it's a special city with peculiar problems all its own. So we kids had to organize and take care of each other—because our dads have been gone too long, and they'll be just as surprised as you when they return. You see, we have the power now. Cover art by Bruce Pennington.

30 review for Children of Tomorrow

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. ‘After a year of travel to through unmapped space, Space Commander Lane returns to earth. Reaching Spaceport he finds everything changed beyond recognition. The adult males have deserted the cities in search of battle and exploration and the children have seized power….’ Blurb from the 1972 NEL paperback edition Spaceport is a city containing the families of those men who have been away in space ten years on exploratory missions. In the interim, a new social phenomenon has evolved. The teenagers, h ‘After a year of travel to through unmapped space, Space Commander Lane returns to earth. Reaching Spaceport he finds everything changed beyond recognition. The adult males have deserted the cities in search of battle and exploration and the children have seized power….’ Blurb from the 1972 NEL paperback edition Spaceport is a city containing the families of those men who have been away in space ten years on exploratory missions. In the interim, a new social phenomenon has evolved. The teenagers, having to grow up in a society without fathers, have developed a new system of ‘outfit’ regime. An outfit is a gang in which the members engage in honest group discussion and have rules and rigid moral codes. Their power has grown to the point where adults have to conform to their principles and outfits can take legitimate action against parents who are not bringing their children up properly. Commander John Lane has now returned to Earth and is instantly branded a ‘booter’ (one who is opposed to the outfits) since he does not realise that the outfit system is a far better way of developing teenagers’ minds that his own reactionary and somewhat misogynist ideas. Van Vogt is here I think exploring his own dianetic ideas but sadly fails to realise that his ingrained sexism is at odds with the liberal views he is seeking to espouse from the point of view of the ‘outfits’. Van Vogt’s women – in this novel we can cite the characters of John Lane’s daughter Susan and his wife Estelle – have seldom been strong individuals. Van Vogt here is at last attempting to portray women with minds of their own, but ultimately he falls back into his cliched ideas. Susan Lane is sixteen years old and her father's idea of getting her to leave the outfits is to set her up on a date with Captain Sennes, a twenty-eight year old serial love-rat. Rather than see through this bizarre plan, Susan is overwhelmed by the Captain’s hypermasculinity. Susan’s mother does little to prevent her husband other than whine a little and lie awake in bed fretting. Meanwhile, an alien race has followed Captain Lane back from the far reaches of the galaxy and Bud Jaeger, an alien child – disguised as human – has infiltrated Susan’s outfit, The Red Cats. Bud’s alien father is present in a disembodied form and communicates with the boy telepathically, their mission being to assess the capability of Earth to present a danger to their race. For a late Van Vogt novel it is surprisingly enjoyable, but lacks much of the wow factor which characterised his earlier work. It is interesting that Van Vogt has attempted to impose some sort of structure on this work (albeit a simplistic one) since we have contrasts of Susan’s relationship with her father and the relationship of the alien Bud Jaeger with his father. This however, seems only a plot device by which the humans and aliens can be reconciled, since Bud’s experiences in the outfits have proved that the aliens could benefit from the outfit system within their own race. Obviously Van Vogt felt that this would be a great novel for teenage readers, since teenagers have always felt that they understood far more than their parents, and would empathise with a society in which they had a real voice within groups of their peers and could, if necessary, impose penalties on their parents. It was a little late in the day to make this an allegory of the rise of youth culture which began in the 1950s, and the book also suffers from the strange jive-talk which the outfits employ. Van Vogt’s dialogue has often seemed stilted but here, the future setting combined with the ersatz sixties slang gives the impression of surreal juxtaposition. …A moment later he asked, ‘What’s the push, Mike?’ Once more, Mike hesitated, then: ‘No push.’ Lee replied instantly, ‘There’s a doubt pushing out of you. Jack it out so we can scan it.’ Mike’s expression was clearing. He removed his hand from the grip it had on Bud’s coat collar. ‘All unpacked, Lee,’ he said. A warm, friendly smile creased his face. ‘All sack.’ Lee said, ‘Sack.’ He turned to the others, made a dispersal gesture. ‘Sack,’ he said once again. he turned and walked quickly over to Susan. ‘Let’s go moocher,’ he said. Susan caught his arm. ‘Sack, everybody,’ she said. All except Bud answered, ‘Sack.’ p 13 Some of Van Vogt’s ideas, crazy though they are, have a certain merit. He suggests for example, that teenagers of both sexes should be given real roles and responsibilities in their teenage years, since this is the time when their potential can be best expanded, and although the settings and some of the characters seem more rooted in the future of the 1950s than the 1970s, occasional sections shine with a surreal profundity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Weirdly, the idea that there are possibly enemy aliens lurking just outside our solar system is a subplot. The real story is that society within the city surrounding Earth's military spaceport has gone utterly mad. My problem with the story is that Van Vogt postulated a very odd societal solution to the problem of most of the fathers being sent away from a military base on long missions. The idea that very polite, puritanical teenage gangs would not only form but gain major social and political a Weirdly, the idea that there are possibly enemy aliens lurking just outside our solar system is a subplot. The real story is that society within the city surrounding Earth's military spaceport has gone utterly mad. My problem with the story is that Van Vogt postulated a very odd societal solution to the problem of most of the fathers being sent away from a military base on long missions. The idea that very polite, puritanical teenage gangs would not only form but gain major social and political authority within less than a decade just didn't feel believable...especially when this movement is only in the one city, not as part of any overall social change. On the other hand, the military officer central to the story is just creepy. His "solution" to the teen "outfits" influencing his daughter is weird beyond belief. By the point in the story when all that is made clear, the aliens are almost a McGuffin, and the resolution to their story totally bafflling. Well below-average for a Van Vogt story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janet Ramski

    I really didn't enjoy this book, and felt it was not one of VanVogt's best. It has its moments, but the inherent sexism turned me off.(and I am far from a rampant feminist!) His male characters are stuffy misogynists and his female characters are weak whiners. The moment where he showed a common element between the alien race and ours had its merits, but the instant calming of tension seemed very unlikely. All in all, I rather wish I'd left it on the shelf. I really didn't enjoy this book, and felt it was not one of VanVogt's best. It has its moments, but the inherent sexism turned me off.(and I am far from a rampant feminist!) His male characters are stuffy misogynists and his female characters are weak whiners. The moment where he showed a common element between the alien race and ours had its merits, but the instant calming of tension seemed very unlikely. All in all, I rather wish I'd left it on the shelf.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Not VV's best, I fear. Another one of those Cold War SF pieces. But the read is worth the twists and the trust in humanity. Very uplifting. Not VV's best, I fear. Another one of those Cold War SF pieces. But the read is worth the twists and the trust in humanity. Very uplifting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    T.M. Thomas

    Oh dear. I so wanted to enjoy this book. Around 1983 I first saw this book in a collection of sci-fi books in my aunties collection after she had moved out of f my grandmother’s house. I was 10 and massively interested in anything space or UFO’s. I was captivated by the cover art, but it was deemed to be too mature for me. Fast forward several decades and I saw this come up on eBay. Written in 1972 it’s obviously set some time in the future. The problem being is that, whilst we haven’t achieved Oh dear. I so wanted to enjoy this book. Around 1983 I first saw this book in a collection of sci-fi books in my aunties collection after she had moved out of f my grandmother’s house. I was 10 and massively interested in anything space or UFO’s. I was captivated by the cover art, but it was deemed to be too mature for me. Fast forward several decades and I saw this come up on eBay. Written in 1972 it’s obviously set some time in the future. The problem being is that, whilst we haven’t achieved some of the technology described in the book, we have massively surpassed some of the other technology imagined of the same future. Throughout the book it leaves you wondering if it’s set in the 80’s, present time or some time in a future yet to come. The futuristic language used by the children makes difficult reading as it has no explanation, so every dialogue has to be analysed as it is read, and compared to instances within previous dialogue, as if learning a new language whilst trying to relax with a book at the same time. Maybe if I had read it in the 80s as a ten year old, before the true advancement of technology kicked it’s backside, I would have enjoyed it more. Maybe if I hadn’t held it is such high regard for decades after being in awe of the cover art as a kid I might not have been disappointed, who knows? It’s a good story but not one of the best.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Akshit Kumar

    3-3.5 stars. van Vogt is supposed to be one of the leading writers from the classic SF era, and while his early work is considered more representative of this opinion, a late novel such as this also proved to be an enjoyable read. I have some quibbles with the unrelenting focus on the teenage outfits and their expert handling (as depicted) of formerly adult responsibilities. In trying to push a theme, it seems the author ended up building a world too impractical to really make much of an impact. T 3-3.5 stars. van Vogt is supposed to be one of the leading writers from the classic SF era, and while his early work is considered more representative of this opinion, a late novel such as this also proved to be an enjoyable read. I have some quibbles with the unrelenting focus on the teenage outfits and their expert handling (as depicted) of formerly adult responsibilities. In trying to push a theme, it seems the author ended up building a world too impractical to really make much of an impact. The resolution of the alien conflict could have been better handled as well. But the book does have its entertaining moments, and fairly decent characters by genre fiction standards. I will try to pick up some of VV's earlier work (preferably 'Slan'), just to see how it measures up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eric Secrist

    The middle section of the book is extremely well-written and borders on fascinating. The ending felt rushed and highly condensed. I have read 3 other van Vogt novels (The World of Null-A, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and The Silkie), and Children of Tomorrow is my favorite so far. CoT has better character development and more themes than the other 3 novels. CoT is also more cohesive and the flow of the book is better than the others because it wasn't written in parts. The book is quite similar to m The middle section of the book is extremely well-written and borders on fascinating. The ending felt rushed and highly condensed. I have read 3 other van Vogt novels (The World of Null-A, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and The Silkie), and Children of Tomorrow is my favorite so far. CoT has better character development and more themes than the other 3 novels. CoT is also more cohesive and the flow of the book is better than the others because it wasn't written in parts. The book is quite similar to many Phillip K Dick novels, both in structure, story, and themes. PKD knew Van Vogt and apparently had great respect for him and his writing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    AD

    Turgid and banal.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Bayonet

    meh

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Izo

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As the blurb on the back of the book says, the teenagers have the power now. That power is a mystery for most of the story. The teens are in Outfits that sound a lot like gangs and they have a small vocabulary of slang related to their mission. Lang, commander of the space fleet that’s been away for 10 years, changes the subject every time someone is about to explain the penalty for not obeying the Outfits. Here’s the spoiler: With most of the men of the Spaceport city away for so long the teenag As the blurb on the back of the book says, the teenagers have the power now. That power is a mystery for most of the story. The teens are in Outfits that sound a lot like gangs and they have a small vocabulary of slang related to their mission. Lang, commander of the space fleet that’s been away for 10 years, changes the subject every time someone is about to explain the penalty for not obeying the Outfits. Here’s the spoiler: With most of the men of the Spaceport city away for so long the teenagers had to raise themselves. This power allowed them to overcome a widespread social problem. That problem is the immature masculine personality that is often mistaken for maturity. This personality trait usually appears in the teens when a male gets away with bullying others. It isn’t a male only trait, but would have been more so in the 1970s due to sexism and gender bias in the workplace. When the immature masculine trait isn’t stopped in the teens it continues into adulthood and creates people who appear to make good supervisors. This kind of boss is never a good leader because they continue to behave like children to get their way. Their unrecognized psychological problem causes dissatisfaction in the workplace and damages their companies as the best workers move on to a less toxic environment. In the novel, the teenagers also correct adults who have the immature masculine trait. Lane only learns the punishment for persisting as a childish bully when his manipulation escalates at the end of the story. The resolution of Lane’s problem and of the alien problem coincides in a way that brings an amicable resolution for all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yusuf

    Baskan hangi akla hizmet Uzaylı diye çevirdi bilmiyorum artık!... Kitabın dili oldukça sade ve anlaşılır. Gel gelelim kurgu çok zayıf. Tamam yazıldığı döneme bakarsak hoş karşılayalım diyeceğim ama bu seferde Asimov'a, Dick'e, Clarke'a haksızlık olmaz mı? Alıp okuyun diyeceğim bir kitap da değil ne yazık ki. Belki alsanız birçoğunuz okurken yarıda bırakırsınız. Uzun uzadıya kitabı anlatmak istemiyorum ama kısaca özetleyim... Yaklaşık 10 yıllık seferinden dönen uzay filosu kumandanı John Lane, şe Baskan hangi akla hizmet Uzaylı diye çevirdi bilmiyorum artık!... Kitabın dili oldukça sade ve anlaşılır. Gel gelelim kurgu çok zayıf. Tamam yazıldığı döneme bakarsak hoş karşılayalım diyeceğim ama bu seferde Asimov'a, Dick'e, Clarke'a haksızlık olmaz mı? Alıp okuyun diyeceğim bir kitap da değil ne yazık ki. Belki alsanız birçoğunuz okurken yarıda bırakırsınız. Uzun uzadıya kitabı anlatmak istemiyorum ama kısaca özetleyim... Yaklaşık 10 yıllık seferinden dönen uzay filosu kumandanı John Lane, şehrini ve yuvasını bıraktığı gibi bulamaz. Yıllarca uzayda farklı ırklarla mücadele edip yuvasına döner ama bu seferde terk edilmişliğin verdiği kırgınlık yüzünden karısı ve kızıyla mücadeleye başlar. Ayrıca uzaylı bir ırk da topluma sızarak insanların tüm davranışlarını takip ediyor. Sonradan durumu fark ediyorlar. Şehirde ise çeteleşmeler, birlikler oluşmuş. Bu birlikleri ebeveynlerinin yokluğunda ailenin geride kalan üyelerini korumak amacıyla gençler oluşturuyor. Lane'in kızı Susan da bu birliklerden birinde üyedir. Filmlerde gördüğümüz birliklerdeki uyuşturucu kullanma, suç işleme gibi özelliklerin aksi bir durum var. Suçla mücadele ediyorlar. Yetişkin olana kadar cinsellik yasak vs... Kısaca ben kitabı beğenmedim. Hatta şöyle dönüp kendime bir baktığımda farkına vardım ki ben eski bilim kurguları pek beğenmiyorum:) Asimov gibi ağır topların kitaplarını bitirip eski bilim kurguları okumaya bir nokta koyacağım sanırım.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maren

    Dystopian YA science fiction from 1972! This is the first book I've read by Van Vogt. His insights into human behaviour, and his thoughts about society and relationships, are fascinating. It's an interesting mix of SF and dystopian fiction, with shades of Jane Austin in the plot (handsome space officers play a prominent part in the story). The hero and heroine are tall, blonde and good looking - well, those are the humans; the alien 'boy' is the other hero. See the post Who Run the Dystopian Wor Dystopian YA science fiction from 1972! This is the first book I've read by Van Vogt. His insights into human behaviour, and his thoughts about society and relationships, are fascinating. It's an interesting mix of SF and dystopian fiction, with shades of Jane Austin in the plot (handsome space officers play a prominent part in the story). The hero and heroine are tall, blonde and good looking - well, those are the humans; the alien 'boy' is the other hero. See the post Who Run the Dystopian World for comments about current YA dystopian fiction and movies - 'most of them feature white women, and the majority of those are brunettes'. The invented slang is overdone and I found it quite irritating. Definitely worth reading, if only to compare with the treatment of similar themes in modern fiction.

  13. 5 out of 5

    D.M.

    I thoroughly enjoyed 'Children of Tomorrow' ... I've always been a fan of van Vogt, but you never know what you will get when you pick up one of his books; it can either be a painful experience or a magnificent one. I am happy to say it is the latter. It is a pretty basic story plot, centered around a city built upon space-faring economy and the affects that holds upon families. Ultimately it is a story surrounding childhood rebellion from poor or lack of effective parenting. Focusing upon a sys I thoroughly enjoyed 'Children of Tomorrow' ... I've always been a fan of van Vogt, but you never know what you will get when you pick up one of his books; it can either be a painful experience or a magnificent one. I am happy to say it is the latter. It is a pretty basic story plot, centered around a city built upon space-faring economy and the affects that holds upon families. Ultimately it is a story surrounding childhood rebellion from poor or lack of effective parenting. Focusing upon a system created where children look after children in the absence of father figures. It is a great and simple idea and had me engaged the entire way through.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hans Verkruijsse

    Kinderen van morgen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Devon Smith

    Will attempt to read this again one day - just couldn't get in to it like other Van Vogts Will attempt to read this again one day - just couldn't get in to it like other Van Vogts

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    Science Fiction

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter Greenwell

    Read this years ago, just adding it for posterity now. One of those "strange ideas, routine delivery" books. The slang used by the teenagers was abrasively annoying. Read this years ago, just adding it for posterity now. One of those "strange ideas, routine delivery" books. The slang used by the teenagers was abrasively annoying.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keith Nixon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Craig Young

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mitzy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andri

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bogdan Dascalu

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tonisq

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Luís Santa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Theaker

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne Marie Georgescu

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dimos Kifokeris

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

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