I read this novella or long short story "The Star Beast" perhaps 40 years ago, perhaps longer than that. I think I read it in an anthology. It is not one of Robert Heinlein's "juvenile" novels of the same name. It is not the 1949 story of the same name by Damon Knight. It is not the 1950 story of the same name by Poul Anderson. It is a heart-breaking story about a fur-covered alien who crash-lands on Earth, I think in America or another English-speaking country, and lies in a coma by his ship, badly burned and injured. He is found and taken to a Government facility. There he is healed so far as possible (not fully) and taught English. Many scientists and big-wigs interrogate him. At first they house him well and treat him reasonably well. He tries to teach us his culture's philosophy but that makes them angry. They sneer at him and say he is just an animal. They take away his furniture. They say that his philosophy is parrot-talk. "Pretty Polly! Pretty Polly!" They say he should run on all fours like an animal, not walk like a man. Eventually he is sold to a circus. He is made to perform an act where he jumps through hoops of fire. This terrifies him, his burns were very bad, but the trainer whips him and makes him do it and all the audience laughs. Every night they laugh. Eventually he escapes from the circus. At the end of the story he is weeping through the woods, starving, trying to run on all fours, trying to climb trees. If any one knows where I can download or buy a paperback of this story, pretty please add a link to your answer? Many thanks


1 Answer 1


A quick web search turns up "The Star Beast" by Nicholas Stuart Gray, which has all the incidents listed and a couple more besides.

  • Thank you Daniel Hatton, this is the correct story, and also the the other stories in the collection Mainly in Moonlight are great stories too. I am surprised that you say A quick web search turns up the correct story. I did several web searches without being able to find this story. May I ask, pretty please what Keywords you used, and which search engine? Commented Jul 1 at 15:45
  • @HelloPeeps2 Startpage, with the search terms "the star beast" "pretty polly". Commented Jul 1 at 15:53
  • Thanks very much! Commented Jul 1 at 16:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.