Friday, 26 July 2013

What Else Is In The Star Beast?

Poul Anderson's "The Star Beast" has an unexpected hero: a decadent Earthman unexpectedly performs the typically Andersonian action-adventure-fiction feat of seizing his guard's gun, knocking the guard out, escaping disguised in the guard's uniform and saving the day.

Apart from this and, of course, more importantly, the issues discussed in previous posts, a large part of this story is a vivid description of what it would be like to be, or to become, a tiger. This is similar to man becoming wolf (were-wolf) in Anderson's Operation Chaos, although that is fantasy whereas "The Star Beast" is sf. This transformation is accomplished technologically.

The tiger lacks color and perspective but sees at night, hears insects, leaves, breeze, wings and small animals' scurryings, smells grass, fungus, decay, fur and blood, feels with hairs and whiskers, lives comfortably in a damp cave, kills rabbit, deer, wild dog and hibernating bear although, crippled by his fight with the bear, he can no longer catch game and instead attacks a human being, by now beginning to forget that he had been one.

Who is the "Star Beast" of the title: the man who becomes a tiger or the fanatic who returns from the stars to sabotage the Solar utopia?

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