The Mind Cage by A.E. Van Vogt – Book Review

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MindCageBook Title: The Mind Cage

Author: A.E. Vogt

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Panther

Released: 1957

 

The Mind Cage is very much a novel written in the Cold War era. The vision of the future is bleak, uninspiring and undemocratic. In this book, the main character, David Marin, is caged in another body. Unfortunately, David Marin is trapped in a person who is due to be executed for criticising the government. David Marin then has to navigate a complicated political network to search for the truth about who controls the world.

 

The main strength of the book is the amount of creative thought that has gone into the novel to imagine a future post-democracy. Moreover, the society imagined by Van Vogt appears to be very hierarchal, people are expected to follow orders and not to think creatively. Moreover, there are thrilling moments when you are worried that David Marin’s life is in danger, due to him being in the body of a man condemned to death, disguised to look like David Marin. David Marin’s mind is in a body that is not his but is disguised to look like his real body, which is a creative problem that the author has created for his main character.

 

My main criticism of this book is that, apart from David Marin, the majority of the characters feel lifeless. The lifeless characters make the novel very dull in parts. There are hints that David Marin had romantic feelings for some of the female characters, but these feelings are not explored enough. Moreover, partly due to the era that this book was written, the female characters are badly written. The short length of the book does mean that character development is partly sacrificed to enable Van Vogt to explore the political themes involved in the plot.

 

Overall the writing is OK but for me to enjoy older style prose I would have preferred more style to the writing. I have read very little hard science fiction novels, but this one I did not enjoy reading. The Mind Cage also lacks the full details about the future world described in the novel. The mating games are referenced a few times in the book, but they are never properly explained. The author of this book makes an attempt to explore gender briefly but little is done to explore the implications of a change to the relationships between men and women.

 

The Mind Cage is a decent hard science fiction novel, but it lacks the fun factor to make this an enjoyable reading experience. However, the Mind Cage is an interesting book for those interested in the history and development of the science fiction genre.

 

Rating: 2/5 Stars

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