Considered one of the key figures in the science fiction genre's mid-1900s Golden Age, van Vogt penned such popular novels as Slan (published in 1946); The Weapon Shops of Isher (1951); Empire of the Atom (1957); and the Null-A trilogy (1948, 1956, and 1985).
He published his first science fiction short story, "The Black Destroyer," in 1939. Two years later, he ended his career with the Canadian Department of National Defense and began working full-time as a writer.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, he aided L. Ron Hubbard in developing a set of metaphysical beliefs that eventually formed the backbone of the Church of Scientology.
His first marriage, to fellow science fiction writer Edna Mayne Hull, lasted from 1939 until 1975. His second marriage, to Lydia van Vogt, continued until his death in 2000.
His work greatly influenced that of fellow science fiction author Philip K. Dick.