“Black Destroyer” is a 1939 science fiction novelette by A.E. van Vogt. It is about a vicious alien who attacks the crew of an exploration space ship.
Being the big fan of Dungeons & Dragons that I am, I have always been fascinated by some of the strange creatures in the Monster Manual. One of those fascinating monsters is the Displacer Beast. It is very cool, but I often wondered where they got the idea for it. Well, I think I now have the answer – the terrifying alien in this story most likely provided the inspiration for it. Now if I could just figure out the origin of the rest of the monsters I’d be set!
Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell
Coeurl is more than just a big, cat-like alien – he is also a highly developed killing machine. The only problem is that he has decimated the food supply of precious id on his planet. So imagine his good luck when a human exploration ship lands nearby to explore the ancient archaeological ruins. Coeurl is starved, but he plays it cool when he meets the humans, acting the part of a nice pussy cat. Poor humans – will they ever figure out the true nature of this beast? Let’s hope so.
My Two Cents…
- Without a doubt the coolest part of this story is Coeurl – what’s not to love about a terrifying, tentacled alien?
- The idea of Coeurl feeding on the precious id was quite interesting and not something I had seen before.
- The final showdown between the humans and Coeurl was great fun to read about.
Interesting Tidbits About This Story:
- Page Count: 20
- Word Count: 12,057
- Did you know that “Black Destroyer” is widely considered to be one of the stories that kicked off the Golden Age of Science Fiction? Yep. You can learn more about this story and its author at Wikipedia.
Where You Can Find Black Destroyer:
- This story was originally published in the July 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction.
- You can read a free online version of “Black Destroyer” at Baen’s The Fifth Imperium web site.
- This excellent novelette is also part of the author’s anthology Transfinite: The Essential A. E. Van Vogt.
Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?
If you liked “Black Destroyer” then you may also enjoy A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum – about an astronaut who walks several hundred miles across the Martian landscape, and the amazing life forms he encounters.