Imagine a science-fiction story written solely for the purpose of confusing the old guard. Imagine the exact opposite of space opera. Imagine someone trying to do Proust in nine pages. Imagine a story that you don't know, even after it is a part of the canon, whether it is a joke or not.
Harlan Ellison wrote in the introduction to the collection that contains the eponymous story, that New Wave is just a label. And then recommended that you read something from a young gun named Piers Anthony. Srsly. But I can't imagine that there wasn't an aspect of showmanship in Ellison's 9 page story, which is about...
There is a mass murder. Michaelangelo, painting saints protecting a pope from barbarian invasion. An alien civilization. Atemporality. Explorers discover a statue of a saint who looks like the mass-murderer. A dragon that is hiding from some treatment. Echoes of Those Who Walk Away from Omelas. And no resolution.World War IV, and cannibalism.
And to quote De La Soul, another pastmaster of pastiche, what does this have to do with love? This is not romantic love, and not even, by most standards, spiritual love. What is the titular beast? Where is the titular screaming of "love"? But the story is permeable, maybe the answer is in the crosswhen. Maybe whatever the story was trying to say, or even if it was just a joke, the story can only be understood when Hideaki Anno and Shinji Ikari flip the script, and use a silly pun to state that identity and relationship are not incomparable. Or, in a series that was strangely parallel, and where Harlan Ellison can be verified to be involved, perhaps the story's title only makes sense in light of Susana Ivanova and Stephen Franklin debating whether all love is unrequited. In either case, perhaps we could solve the mystery of love without almost or totally destroying the planet.