Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
The book you are talking about is called "Supermind".
Supermind is a science fiction novel by A. E. van Vogt first published
in complete form in 1976 by publisher DAW Books.
Look it up on Wikipedia. Great book, great author.
_Supermind_ is a fix-up novel based on three novellas:
The Proxy Intelligence
"Asylum" and "The Proxy Intelligence" are in my collection. "Asylum" is
the first van Vogt story that I ever read. It's "mind within a mind"
device reminds me of two other authors. Wilson uses a symbiote named
"Pard" in _Healer_. And then there's Asimov. In regards to Asimov, my
_Cambridge Companion_ says it much better than me.
The attempt to apply scientific principles to the workings
of the human mind had an odder result. Amid sober stories
about natural law and complex investigations of social
trends, the magazines of the 1940s and 1950s published a
great many stories about telepathy and other forms of
extrasensory perception, or so-called 'psi powers'.
Campbell considered these to be as valid scientifically as
any speculation about alien environments or rocket ship
engineering. One of his favourite writers of psionic
fiction was A. E. Van Vogt, who was otherwise the antithesis
of Campbell-era sf. Rather than writing the rigorously
logical stories that Campbell encouraged from Asimov or
Heinlein, Van Vogt produced dreamlike narratives about
psychic supermen in hiding, such as Jommy Cross in the
enormously popular Slan (serialized in 1940). Van Vogt's
fiction is energetic and vivid, but often barely coherent.
His protagonists resemble fairy-tale heroes more than
Heinlein's competent engineers. They are guided along the
way by characters who might as well be wizards; their
psychic gifts are thinly disguised wishing-rings and cloaks
Ryk also talked about van Vogt in a recent thread.  It was a delight
to re-read Ryk's thread after actually reading van Vogt for the first
time. This excerpt resonated with me:
This isn't terribly surprising when you realize that Van Vogt
literally wrote from his dreams - he was awakened regularly
every night to be sure to write them down.
That's precisely what "Asylum" reminded me of, one of my own dreams.
(I keep a dream journal.) IMHO van Vogt is the master of imagery.
Thanks to van Vogt I now know why they call it "The Golden Age of
Note 1. This is the script used to piece together Ryk's thread from a
usenet archive hosted on one of my servers.
$ find . -print0 \
| xargs -0 grep "Under the Influence: A. E. Van Vogt" -l \
| xargs cat >> ~/vvthread