The Weapon Shops of Isher

The Weapon Shops of Isher

infobox Book |
name = The Weapon Shops of Isher


image_caption = Dust-jacket of the first edition
author = A. E. van Vogt
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = USA
language = English
series =
genre = science fiction novel
publisher = Greenberg
pub_date = 1951
media_type = Print (Hardcover)
pages = 231p.
oclc = 1626099
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Weapon Shops of Isher" is a science fiction novel by A. E. van Vogt, first published in 1951. The novel is a fix-up created from three previously published short stories about the Weapon Shops civilization:
* "The Seesaw" ("Astounding Science Fiction", July 1941)
* "The Weapon Shop" ("Astounding Science Fiction", December 1942)
* "The Weapon Shops of Isher" ("Thrilling Wonder Stories", February 1949)

Plot summary

"The Weapon Shops of Isher" and its sequel "The Weapon Makers" detail the workings of Isher civilization and the adventures of Robert Hedrock, The One Immortal Man, as he keeps it in balance in the face of attempts by the Weapon Makers, who have forgotten their purpose as a permanent opposition, and the strong government of the Empress, Innelda Isher, to undermine each other. The Weapon Shops provide the populace with defensive weapons and an alternative legal system.

The Isher/Weapon Shops novels are one of the very few examples of Golden Age science fiction that explicitly discusses the right to keep and bear arms, specifically guns. Indeed, the motto of the Weapon Shops, repeated several times, is "The right to buy weapons is the right to be free." Van Vogt's guns have virtually magical properties, and can only be used in self-defence.

The political philosophy of the Weapon Shops is minimalist. They will not interfere with the corrupt imperial monarchy of the Isher government, on the grounds that men always have a government of the type they deserve: no government, however bad, exists without at least the tacit consent of the governed. The mission of the Weapon Shops therefore is merely to offer single individuals the right to protect themselves with a fire-arm, or, in cases of fraud, access to a "Robin Hood" alternative court system that judges and awards compensation from large, imperial merchant combines to cheated individuals. Because the population is armed, the Isher government cannot take the final step toward totalitarianism.

The novel was published by Greenberg in New York in 1951. It was also published as a paperback by Ace Books and in 1969 by New English Library in the U.K.


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