This question reminded me of a book I read in school in the mid-nineties. In today’s terms it was a young-adult novel, with an adolescent protagonist (?male), initially in a fairly-realist modern Earth setting, but with aliens quickly appearing in a major way. The aliens were from two highly advanced species — described as cat-like and dog-like, if I remember right — embroiled in a long-running war with each other. It eventually turns out that a previous visit from these species became the basis for biblical stories of angels and devils. I think the major plot arc was the protagonist and his allies preventing Earth/humanity from getting annihilated as collateral damage in the conflict.

I read it in English class in secondary school in the UK — I’d guess around 1996, certainly not later than 1998. By the style, I’d guess it was written in the 80s or 90s. I’d remembered the title as Prove Yourself a Hero, but that seems to be an entirely different book, not science fiction at all — possibly the book I’m thinking of is titled something similar, or possibly we just read both around the same time and I’ve confused them in memory.

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    But most importantly: which were the angels and which were the devils? Feb 14, 2023 at 17:04
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    The cat-like aliens were obviously the devils, @JanusBahsJacquet. Based on the average cat's constant plotting to kill its owner, there's almost no need to ask that question! :)
    – FreeMan
    Feb 14, 2023 at 17:24
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    @FreeMan … if you’re a dog person, that is. If you’re a cat person, cats are of course the angels, and the evil, drooling dogs that are always chasing the poor kitties are the devils. Feb 14, 2023 at 17:32
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    Those people are plainly wrong!
    – FreeMan
    Feb 14, 2023 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


If it's the same book asked about here then the answer could be Urn Burial, by Robert Westall. From Wikipedia:

Urn Burial is a 1987 young adult science fiction novel by Robert Westall. It involves alien races who resemble cats and dogs.

It’s TVTropes page (obligatory timesink warning) gives more corroborating details:

Young Cumbrian shepherd Ralph Edwards is out one rainy afternoon seeing to his flock when he comes across one of the ancient cairns that litter Fiend's Fell […] Ralph finds himself thrown into an ongoing conflict between Prepoc's catlike people, the Fefethil, and the dog-like Wawaka […] searching for hidden weapons from an ancient conflict that saw its final battle played out on a prehistoric Earth.

One Goodreads review also notes a “connection to the Book of Revelations and werewolf legends”, fitting the OP’s memory of the aliens giving rise to legends, including biblical stories.

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    Thankyou — yes, this is it. From the first discussion you linked I wasn’t quite sure, but searching around further, this is definitely right. If you don’t object, I will edit a few more corroborating quotes into the answer, for the sake of possible future searchers.
    – PLL
    Feb 13, 2023 at 21:57

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