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Advertisement: It also shares some similar elements with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Skin of Evil , right down to the antagonist, Armus, being alone and abandoned on a desolate world and going to murderous lengths in his attempt to escape. Wednesday 21 December 2016 (actualisé le 6 June 2020 ) by A. The July 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, featuring A. van Vogt’s first published s-f story [1] Black Destroyer on its iconic cover by Graves Gladney, is generally considered to have initiated the golden age of science-fiction, extending throughout the forties and into the early fifties. It later became the initial six chapters of van Vogt’s great 1950 "fix-up" novel of interstellar exploration, The Voyage of the Space Beagle .

However there are very many textual variations between the original story presented here and the " Space Beagle " version - in particular the complete absence of any reference to the "Nexialist" or multi-disciplinarian approach to resolving conflicts with unknown civilizations so central to the Space Beagle story line. Here, the key role played by Nexialist scientist Elliott Grosvenor in the Space Beagle novel is, one might say, most logically assumed by the ship’s captain Mr. And the July 1939 Astounding publication of this landmark story featured a number of elaborate illustrations by Kramer that are all included here. A pure gem that everyone interested in science fiction - and all the others who should be - will want to enjoy. Kindle and ePub versions are available for downloading below . The black, moonless, almost starless night yielded reluctantly before a grim reddish dawn that crept up from his left. A vague, dull light, it was, that gave no sense of approaching warmth, no comfort, nothing but a cold, diffuse light­ness, slowly revealing a nightmare land­scape. Black, jagged rock and black, unliving plain took form around him, as a pale-red sun peered at last above the grotesque horizon. It was then Coeurl rec­ognized suddenly that he was on famil­iar ground.

His muscles pressed with sudden, unrelenting strength against his bones. His great forelegs—twice as long as his hindlegs—twitched with a shuddering movement that arched every razor-sharp claw. The thick tentacles that sprouted from his shoulders ceased their wearing un­dulation, and grew taut with anxious alertness. Utterly appalled, he twisted his great cat head from side to side, while the little hairlike tendrils that formed each ear vibrated frantically testing every va­grant breeze, every throb in the ether. But there was no response, no swift tingling along his intricate nervous sys­tem, not the faintest suggestion any­where of the presence of the all-neces­sary id. Hopelessly, Coeurl crouched, an enormous catlike figure silhouetted against the dim reddish skyline, like a distorted etching of a black tiger rest­ing on a black rock in a shadow world. Through all the centuries of restless search, this day had loomed ever nearer, blacker, more frightening—this inevi­table hour when he must return to the point where he began his systematic hunt in a world almost depleted of id-creatures. The truth struck in waves like an endless, rhythmic ache at the seat of his ego. When he had started, there had been a few id-creatures in every hun­dred square miles, to be mercilessly rooted out. Only too well Coeurl knew in this ultimate hour that he had missed none. In all the hundreds of thousands of square miles that he had made his own by right of ruthless conquest—until no neighboring coeurl dared to question his sovereignty—there was no id to feed the otherwise immortal en­gine that was his body. And now—he recognized the knoll of rock just ahead, and the black rock bridge that formed a queer, curling tunnel to his right. It was in that tunnel he had lain for days, waiting for the simple-minded, snakelike id-creature to come forth froth its hole in the rock to bask, in the sun—his first kill after he had realized the absolute necessity of organized extermination. He licked his lips in brief gloating memory of the moment his slavering jaws tore the victim into precious tooth­some bits. But the dark fear of an id-less universe swept the sweet remembrance from his consciousness, leaving only cer­tainty of death. He snarled audibly, a defiant, devilish sound that quavered on the air, echoed and re-echoed among the rocks, and shuddered back along his nerves—in­stinctive and hellish expression of his will to live. HE SAW it emerge out of the dis­tance on a long downward slant, a tiny glowing spot that grew enormously into a metal ball. The great shining globe hissed by above Coeurl, slowing visibly in quick deceleration. It sped over a black line of hills to the right, hovered almost motionless for a second, then sank down out of sight. His round, black eyes burned with the horrible desire that was an agony within him. His ear tendrils vibrated a message of id in such tremendous quantities that his body felt sick with the pangs of his ab­normal hunger. The little red sun was a crimson ball in the purple-black heavens when he crept up from behind a mass of rock and gazed from its shadows at the crumbling, gigantic ruins of the city that sprawled below him. The silvery globe, in spite of its great size, looked strangely inconspicuous against that vast, fairy-like reach of ruins. Yet about it was a leashed aliveness, a dynamic quiescence that, after a moment, made it stand out, dominating the foreground.

A massive rock-crushing thing of metal, it rested on a cradle made by its own weight in the harsh, resisting plain that began abruptly at the outskirts of the dead metropolis. Coeurl gazed at the strange, two-legged creatures who stood in little groups near the brilliantly lighted open­ing that yawned at the base of the ship. His throat thickened with the immediacy of his need; and his brain grew dark with the first wild impulse to burst forth in furious charge and smash these flimsy, helpless-looking creatures whose bodies emitted the id-vibrations. Mists of memory stopped that mad rush when it was still only electricity surging through his muscles. Memory that brought fear in an acid stream of weakness, pouring along his nerves, poi­soning the reservoirs of his strength. He had time to see that the creatures wore things over their real bodies, shim­mering transparent material that glit­tered in strange, burning flashes in the rays of the sun. Of dim days when the city that spread be­low was the living, breathing heart of an age of glory that dissolved in a sin­gle century before flaming guns whose wielders knew only that for the sur­vivors there would be an ever-narrow­ing supply of id. It was the remembrance of those guns that held him there, cringing in a wave of terror that blurred his reason. He saw himself smashed by balls of metal and burned by searing flame. Came cunning—understanding of the presence of these creatures.

This, Coeurl reasoned for the first time, was a scientific expedition from another star. In the olden days, the coeurls had thought of space travel, but disaster came too swiftly for it ever to be more than a thought.


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