Fair Game

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in If Sep 1959

Professor Douglas is alarmed one night to see a giant eye watching him through the window of his house, but it vanishes before his wife notices it. The next day an enormous face appears in the sky, gazing down at him before fading away. The other professors at Bryant College decide these apparitions must be aliens who are after Douglas because he is the best nuclear physicist in the world. Then Douglas is drawn from his house by the illusion of a woman in distress, and he escapes in his car as lightning bolts strike around him. 

When he is eventually captured by the aliens and carried into the sky in a net he resigns himself to the fact that the aliens want him for his knowledge and ability. Instead, just before he is cast into a frying pan, he finds the aliens only want to eat him.

The reversal here is amusing, but nothing about the setup really works.

Cast of characters

  • Anthony Douglas – a nuclear physics professor at Bryant College
  • Laura Douglas – Anthony’s wife
  • Bill Henderson – head of the Biology department at Bryant College
  • Jean Henderson – Bill’s wife
  • Milton Erick – head of the Math department