Roger Sarac never explicitly gives a name to the shaggy humanoid beast at the heart of his novel. “It’s like a bear, and yet it ain’t,” he writes. “It’s sort of manlike, yet it ain’t. It’s just a thing without a proper name.”
Stories of apelike and bearlike creatures living in the Pacific Northwest have been popular for a long time. Readers may automatically assume the author is writing about Bigfoot or Sasquatch or something else born of “Indian and aboriginal stock.”
Sarac’s beast is something similar yet something altogether different. She exists as a link to both the past and the future—a baby beget by modern parents cursed with cellular structure culled from mankind’s forgotten stages of evolution.
To put it another way, it’s like a woman who wakes up in the morning to discover the world has slipped backward a million years. Or, perhaps, it’s like she’s been shot ahead into the future thousands of generations.
Forward or backward, says the author, it doesn’t matter. The timeslip is traumatic. “What is intended for thousands of people to experience gradually, comes all at once to one individual.”
The half-animal-half-human wretch is a repository of ancient human experience. She’s more advanced than most wild animals, but witless nonetheless. That’s her tragedy, says Sarac. Her intelligence and scale of awareness didn’t belong to any specific time period.
As a result, the she-beast is (mostly) sympathetic. She hunts and kills innocent people, but you understand her savage nature. Like all monsters, she’s trapped in a world she didn’t make.
The prehistoric throwback in Sarac’s novel is a genetic anomaly that provides a peek at the secret of life. She has no name, but she represents a serious threat to the future of mankind. According to the author, there’s a subhuman monster lurking in all of us—it’s just one gestation period away from being born.
[The Throwbacks / By Roger Sarac / First Printing: 1965]