At the halfway mark there is a sentence spoken by the narrator Gilbert Gosseyn about a critical turning point in the (so-called) narrative:
It was all quite incomprehensible.
That about sums up The World of Null-A by A. E. van Vogt.
Having written a couple of books I know, that sometimes you just can’t find the right word or sentence to make a lucid point. What you do is pick a word, any word and hope something better hits you on the next revision. It seems that AEvV also did this, but never ever found the right word (and possibly never revised). Here’s a good example:
Gosseyn was cold with the cold which derives from the nervous system.
What. The. Hell.
I believe the author’s greatest skill was that come what may, he could always find a somewhat plausible (and maybe interesting, but that wasn’t a requirement) sciencey idea and blast out 200,000 words with the idea buried somewhere therein. In his books everyone who participates in the stories is either a president of the Earth, a pan-galactic dictator, or the greatest genius who ever lived. Being none of these things, I have a very hard time relating to these characters who weld so much influence but appear as interesting as wet toilet paper. On the rare occasion that a regular person enters the story they quickly become so much cannon fodder.
Damion Knight wrote a somewhat famous criticism of The World of Null-A and within had this to say about van Vogt:
A. E. van Vogt “is no giant; he is a pygmy who has learned to operate an overgrown typewriter.”
That seems a bit over the top, but it’s safe to say that this book was not my favorite.
2 stars out of 5