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Coeurl is a fictional alien race of predators created by science fiction novelist A. E. van Vogt (1912–2000) and featured in his first published short story "Black Destroyer" (1939), later incorporated in the novel The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950). The species' appearance is comparable to a large cat, except in that its forelegs are twice as long as its hind legs, and it possesses tentacles attached to its shoulders that terminate in suction cups. Its skin coloration is not mentioned (except as implied by the title), but was depicted as black in the cover art for its original magazine appearance. It sustains itself by feeding upon a substance it calls the Id of other beings.
The species appears indifferent to environment and can survive in different atmospheres. It can manipulate EM radiation (referred to as "electric vibrations" in the story) at will and seems to communicate via that method.
In "Black Destroyer", a sentient creature that calls itself Coeurl lives on an alien planet. When a human starship arrives, they find a Coeurl but assume it is an unintelligent animal, and even allow it to come on board. The Coeurl realizes it can feed on humans but plays along in order to learn more about them and their ship. Eventually, however, it kills and feeds on one of the ship's crew. The crew suspects the Coeurl did it and tries to prove it by feeding the creature organically bound phosphorus similar to that in the victim's bones, but the Coeurl is smart enough to pass the test. It is later found out and tries to escape, but it is no match for the humans' technology, and in the end commits suicide.
When "Black Destroyer" was incorporated into The Voyage of the Space Beagle, several changes were made in Coeurl's anatomy and physiology—for example, Coeurl's tentacles originally ended in tentacled fingers, but were changed in the novel to suction cups, and the dietary chemical was changed from phosphorus to potassium. In the novel, it is theorized that the members of Coeurl's race were pets or servants of the original inhabitants of the planet.
- Coeurl appear as feline enemies in the Final Fantasy series, usually with enlarged tentacle-like whiskers. They are usually associated with the "Blaster" attack, which causes dangerous status effects at random, usually paralysis or instant death.
- The displacer beast in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game was inspired by the coeurl, being a large feline with shoulder tentacles.
- The Dirty Pair have a Coeurl named Mughi as a sidekick.
- Coeurls inhabit Mount Zoaka in the MUD Lusternia.
- A combat droid used by the lead character in David Gerrold's novel A Season for Slaughter is similarly catlike and vocalises the word "Coeurl" when it is on standby and awaiting further orders.
- Also by David Gerrold in his Star Trek novel The Galactic Whirlpool, the lieutenant Kevin Riley uses holographic creatures as part of a disorientating tactic during a commandeering action, of which the "prowlers" use the same "Coeurl" vocalisation.
- The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was able to secure permission for a single use of Van Vogt's original Coeurl in the adventure booklet The End of Eternity.
- In the Liar-soft visual novel Sekien no Inganock ~ What a Beautiful People, mutated "fantastic humans" whose mutations changed their body parts to those of cats are referred to as Coeurl.
- In the MMORPG Guild Wars 2, colocals are a type of enemy that resembles a Coeurl and can be found in various zones across the game world.
- In the anime Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, episode 18, there is a moving van with the logo containing a red and yellow coeurl with the words COEURL EXPRESS stamped on the side.
- "Astounding Science Fiction July 1939 --Black Destroyer.jpg (350×490)". Archived from the original on 2010-10-19.
- "ggygax.html". Archived from the original on 2007-03-08.
- "Coeurl – PathfinderWiki". pathfinderwiki.com.