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Literature / World-Eater

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A 1983 novel by Robert Swindells. Late one night, eleven-year-old pigeon breeder Orville Copperstone wakes to find a tree having blown into the house of elderly neighbour Mr McDougal, who speaks fearfully of a strange new presence in the night sky. Recent worldwide freak storms have in fact been caused by the sudden, unexplained arrival in the solar system of a small planet between Mercury and Venus. While the Copperstones learn through news updates of the solar drama, Russian physicist Professor Valentina Petrova has an ominously pertinent new theory about black holes.

Meanwhile, Orville befriends local journalist Brian Fox, to whom he submits a theory that the new planet, whose smooth surface is made of calcium carbonate, is some kind of egg...


World-Eater provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: Orville takes fond, diligent care of pigeon Susie.
  • Alien Invasion: Of a sort - a gigantic intergalactic predator wants our solar system for breakfast.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Brian makes short work of Orville's kidnappers.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: On having been kidnapped for information, Orville suddenly flies into a rage at the thought of his distraught parents.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Orville has some good ones.
    Orville: {on the proposed need to insulate the orbital egg} What are you going to do, turn off the sun?
  • "Eureka!" Moment: "It's an egg."
  • The End of the World as We Know It: If the new "planet" hatches, whatever's inside will devour the entire solar system.
  • Extreme Omnivore: These things eat stars, planets and light.
  • Friend to All Children: Brian has an easy rapport with Orville, of whom he's quite protective.
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  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Although more like some kind of bird species, which raid independently.
  • Improvised Weapon: A shield assembled from space junk to insulate the space egg from the sun's incubation.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Orville's pigeon fascination inspires ridicule at school.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Orville and Mr McDougal share a kindred love of pigeons.
    • Orville and Brian.
    • Brian and elderly Professor Hayle.
  • Immoral Journalist: Chris Thelwell and Toby Vance, who suspect Orville to have realised something about the new "planet," kidnap him for information.
  • Intrepid Reporter: When searching for additional news material, Brian meets Orville.
  • Oop North: Evidenced by the occasional "aye".
  • Planet Eater: They also eat stars, light, and time.
  • The Professor: Astronomer Professor Jim Hayle has just the right connections to circulate a persuasive new theory...
  • Starfish Aliens: Some kind of intergalactic species which has wings, lays eggs, and is very, very big.
  • Tears of Joy:
    • Orville, his mother, and possibly his father, when the crisis has passed.
    • Orville, on being presented by the Royal Pigeon Fancier with a pair of doridins as successor to his cat-slain Susie.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Black holes are revealed to be living things, one of which has just laid an egg in our solar system.
  • Weird Weather: On arrival of the new "planet."
  • Would Hurt a Child: Two unscrupulous journalists, having realised Orville to know something, kidnap him.