Literature: The Voyage of the Space Beagle

The Voyage of the Space Beagle is a Science Fiction novel by A. E. van Vogt. To be more precise, it is actually the compilation of several short stories that van Vogt had written for a magazine years before (including the first two he ever wrote). All the stories had in common the involvement of the Space Beagle, an Earth starship sent to explore new areas of space, encountering ever more fantastic -and dangerous- alien lifeforms along the way.

Although obscure today, the stories were enormously influential; to the point that some of the creatures Vogt invented have been openly imitated, most notably the telepathic, cat-like Coeurl (which became a recurring monster in the Final Fantasy series) and even the xenomorphs from Alien might have been based on Vogt's work (he certainly believed so.)

A recurrent theme of the stories was that the ship's science officer gave a warning of danger, but was ignored and always ended up having to save the crew by himself.

Tropes in the stories:

  • And I Must Scream: Ixtl's human victims are paralyzed with its eggs inside them, waiting for the hatchlings to eat their way out. The doctor extracts the eggs in time and the paralysis wears off.
  • Cat Folk: The Coeurl.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ixtl.
  • First Contact Team: The crew of the Beagle.
  • Ignored Expert: The lone nexialist (a scientist whose specialty is nonspecialization) in the crew.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The Coeurl
  • Meaningful Name: The title is an obvious reference to the S.S. Beagle, the ship whose voyage of exploration included Charles Darwin (and the story has a similar discovery-of-new-species theme.)
  • Patchwork Story
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality - When people do not listen to, agree with, or vote in favor of the nexialist scientist, he brainwashes and hypnotizes or imprisons them to get what he wants. This is viewed as a good thing because he is "right."
  • Time Abyss: The crew theorize that Ixtl is a creature from a previous incarnation of the universe, and had been drifting in space since before the Big Bang until it encountered the Beagle.
  • Villain Protagonist: The encounter with Coeurl is told from its POV.

Alternative Title(s):

The Voyage Of The Space Beagle