As with many of A.E. van Vogt's stories, The Beast
begins with a deceptive simplicity -- for van Vogt science fiction, that is. Jim Pendrake, former strong man in the Air Force, now back from the China War of 1970 (minus his strong right arm), is vegetating his life away in seclusion when, during one of his lonely horseback rides, he finds an engine of advanced design.
How advanced the design was, even those who had lost the engine did not realize. But when they took it away from him, Pendrake was stirred out of his apathy, and began an investigation that led, first of all, to his sudden discovery that his lost right arm was growing back.
But that's only the beginning of a story that ranges from Pendrake's strange imprisonment by a secret organization of idealists, who wish to spare the planets the turmoil of man's madness, to a hidden moon colony ruled by a brutal, super-intelligent Neanderthal, who is a million years old ... and so to a typically van Vogtian climax, in which the reader is a participant in vast events which somehow incredibly come to a satisfactory -- and credible -- solution.
Original title: The Beast
Genre: Fiction→ Science Fiction→ Technology