Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A E van Vogt's "The Monster" aka "Resurrection" (short story, alien colonists): Nasty aliens attempting colonization of a dead earth get a rude shock

Quote from short story titled The Monster aka Resurrection by A E van VogtIn a sense, this one falls in the same class as Clarke's "Rescue Party" or "The Songs of Distant Earth": an extremely positive doomsday story. It's even humorous - occasionally. I found it less interesting than Clarke's stories, but it was enjoyable enough.

Story summary.

Long in future, with far more technologically advanced humans, one fine day all animal life on earth dies. But not plant life. Even insects are gone (How do plants pollinate? Only with wind?). We're not told the fate of sea creatures; presumably, they too are gone. Cause was a "A nucleonic storm. It swept in from outer space. It brushed this edge of our galaxy. It was about ninety light-years in diameter, beyond the farthest limits of our power. There was no escape from it. We had dispensed with spaceships, and had no time to construct any. Castor, the only star with planets ever discovered by us, was also in the path of the storm."

An unspecified thousands of years later, aliens called Ganae (from planet Gana) land on earth. These are very violent & ruthless creatures - they've been killing whole planets of life by bombarding with "poisonous radiation" so they can overtake those worlds. Earth is perfectly habitable for them.

And the visitors are suspecting it's their kind that has been behind earthlife's demise - but aren't sure. Since all animal life is dead, they want to find out the cause of mass deaths before proceeding with their own colonization of it.

Now, they have this magical machine. It can revive the dead given the dead body - perfect with the memories till the demise! And in only a few minutes! "The science involved was simple and always fully effective." Plus a perfect language translator - so they can talk to the newly revived.

OK - they figure the bipeds were probably the dominant life form. So they begin reviving some - preserved in a museum, or just lying around in the open (end was apparently sudden, but known) - from various periods of human history. First 3 such revived are quickly killed, though the third nearly killed the aliens instead. Second was from our current times. Third some 2000 years after our time; apart from a lot of technology, telepathy was common in this era.

It's the forth revival - from a human far into future & far more technically competent than us - that the things really get interesting. I found it odd the aliens were so dumb as to try revival of one from a time later than third - who was their match enough! Third revival happened on the fifth day of their arrival; fourth on eighth day. Title comes from aliens' view of the forth; or may be the reader's view of aliens.

The moment he is revived, he seized the situation (presumably telepathically) & vanished. ! You see, by his time, teleporting was common! And not restricted to small distances either. They could do it up to a few tens of light years!!

While the aliens are looking around, he soon reappears. Looking very calm. He doesn't have much sympathy for aliens since he knows their nature, but is thankful for reviving him.

But aliens are many, are armed, & are arrogant. When all attempts to harm him come to naught - including ray guns & atomic weapons dropped after they take off (they failed to detonate), they come back for truce. But are still way too arrogant. And challenge him to stop them. Our hero is calmness personified.

In the meantime, after the first debacle, aliens had destroyed all their revival-of-dead machines - lest this superman gain access to one.

Aliens head back home - to get more help. Part way through, they notice the human is in the ship! Yes - he teleported. They cannot even contact their home word, lest human track the message beam & teleport there.

So they decide to commit mass suicide. At least human hasn't learned the technology for reviving the dead, or location of their world. Just before their death, they will learn this is exactly what he had done when he teleported immediately on revival. Humans are going to be around again...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding Science Fiction, August 1948.
Rating: A
Listed in Contento's Top Ten Most Reprinted Stories.
Listed among the stories from John Cambell's Astounding/Analog.
Related: Stories of A E van Vogt.


Gwenny said...

WOW! This sounds like an awesome story. Going to go see where I can find it to read. Thanks!

Bob said...

I read this years ago....

Its not about aliens.

We are the monster. Vogt's just been a bit too subtle.

Bob Ramsay

David Freiberg said...

We may be monsters here, but we are awesome monsters!