The War Against the Rull

by A. E. Van Vogt
Reviewed date: 2019 Jul 14
Rating: 2
187 pages
cover art

It's another fix-up novel from A. E. Van Vogt. The various stories are strung together with only the barest of connecting material. But the individual stories aren't bad, and if you are expecting an episodic storyline instead of a novel, it's an enjoyable read.

The Rull are an extra-galactic alien species bent on total domination of the known universe. Humanity has built a coalition of races to fight against the Rull, but it's a brutal war. The Rull are merciless. Their technology is about equal to that of humanity. An individual Rull is rather less intelligent than a human, but the Rull have an advantage: their bodies can manipulate light, such that they can project an image to disguise themselves. They can pass for humans. In this way, they can infiltrate and spy on human activities, giving them a real advantage.

The ezwal
Trevor Jamieson crashlands on the planet Eristan II. With him is an ezwal, an enormous beast from Carson's Planet. Jamieson is the only human being who knows that the ezwal is not a dumb animal; the ezwal is highly intelligent, communicates telepathically, and their entire race has been hiding this from humanity, biding their time until they can expel humans from Carson's Planet.

Jamieson needs the ezwal's help to survive on Eristan II. More, he needs help from the ezwals in the war against the Rull. Carson's Planet is a key military base in the war, and if the ezwal join the coalition, their telepathic powers could help turn the tide of war--which until now has been going well for the Rull. As Jamieson tells the ezwal, the Rull have never once been dislodged from a planet they have occupied.

The ezwal has no wish to cooperate in either endeavor. He views humans as invaders, and only grudgingly works with Jamieson because they need each other to survive on the savage jungle of Eristan II. Eventually they are both rescued. Jamieson returns the ezwal to Carson's Planet.

The human
On Carson's Planet, Jamieson tells the human colonists that the ezwals are intelligent and that they want their planet back. That doesn't go over very well. But one woman, Barbara Whitman, seems at least willing to talk to him. She says that the moon of Carson's Planet is habitable and could serve as a base if Carson's Planet must be abandoned. She suggests they go check it out.

It's a ruse. She strands them both on the moon. It's habitable, but only just. They will both die. But, once again, Jamieson finds a way to survive.

The young ezwal
Back on earth, a vessel carrying a captured ezwal specimen crashlands in Alaska. The baby ezwal escapes into the wilderness. The authorities track it and intend to kill it, but Jamieson gets wind and steps in. He finds the ezwal first, makes telepathic contact, and brings it in safely.

Jamieson is kidnapped by the Rull as part of an elaborate plot to sabotage the lymph-fluid collection project on Mira 23. Fortunately, Jamieson foils the plot. Even more fortunately, he deduces the Rull do not suspect the significance of the lymph-fluid operation: Earth is developing a biological weapon to use against the Rull.

Kidnapped kid
Rull secret agents kidnap Jamieson's son and force him to help them infiltrate a top secret human base. Jamieson gets help from the young ezwal, who communicates telepathically with the boy and tells him what he needs to do. The Rull plot is completely foiled, and the boy is returned safe.

Man vs. Rull
Jamieson and a Rull have each crash-landed on a planet. Help for either side is days away. It's a battle between the two.

Jamieson manages to avoid the Rull's more dangerous traps, and lay a trap of his own. He uses his knowledge of psychology to perform some Pavlovian conditioning on the poor hapless Rull. This particular Rull turns out to be very important, in fact, he's the top dog. A Prime Leader. And Jamieson has conditioned this Prime Leader to think that the Rulls have underestimated humans, and that the Rulls would do better to turn their conquering impulses towards other galaxies. Which they do, and thus the war ends.

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