tag: Alien Simulacra

The War with the Fnools

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galactic Outpost Spring 1964

Once again the Fnools have invaded Earth intent on dominating the Solar System even though the humans defeated them before. This time, in the U.S., the Fnools are masquerading as real estate salesman in Utah. In Berlin they are appearing as VW inspectors, and in Poland they are disguised as chess players. Luckily they are only two feet tall and so they are easily spotted. 

CIA Captain Edgar Lightfoot travels to Provo to capture some Fnools and bring them back to Major Hauk. Since they are small they are easily apprehended, but while transporting two of them back in his ‘copter he lets them smoke a cigarette. Suddenly both Fnools are now four feet tall. Back at CIA headquarters Major Hauk is in despair over a possible Fnool victory. He drinks from a bottle of scotch and hides in a bunker with his secretary. 

When Lightfoot and the Fnools arrive the Fnools overtake Lightfoot while he is preoccupied with Hauk’s scotch. The Fnools then drink the scotch and instantly become six feet tall. Both Hauk and Lightfoot realize it is hopeless, since the aliens are indistinguishable from humans at that size. That is until the Fnools encounter Miss Smith in the bunker. After this third vice, a woman, the Fnools become eight feet tall. Confident no one will mistake them for humans now Hauk is assured the Fnools will be defeated.

Cast of characters

  • Edgar Lightfoot – Captain of the CIA
  • Julius Hauk – CIA Major
  • Miss Smith – Hauk’s secretary
  • Hochflieger – a General in the West German Security Service
  • Serge Nicov – local chief in Poland’s People’s Protective Agency for Preserving the Democratic Process
  • The Fnools

Explorers We

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First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Jan 1959

A crew of explorers returns from an expedition to Mars crash landing their ship just outside of San Francisco. When they make their way into town they expect a hero’s welcome, but instead everyone who sees them flees in terror. 

The FBI eventually shows up and burns them alive with napalm without listening to any pleas from the men who think the FBI must believe them to be Commies. 

We find out that the Mars spacecraft actually crashed on that planet’s surface two years ago and what has been repeatedly returning to Earth, twenty-one times and counting, are aliens disguised as humans (although the aliens clearly don’t know that’s what they are). The story ends with the same Mars crew, thrilled to be arriving back on Earth, again crash landing their craft outside the city. 

Cast of characters

  • Captain Stone, Parkhurst, Barton, Leon, Merriweather, Vecchi – the crew of Mars explorers 
  • Scanlan, Wilks – FBI agents

Human Is

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First published in Startling Stories Winter 1955

Lester Herrick is a mean and bitter scientist until he returns from a trip to Rexor IV a changed man. Suddenly he enjoys spending time with his nephew, loves to cook and shows affection to his wife Jill for the first time in five years. 

It’s obvious to everyone his body was taken over by a Rexorian, and the Clearance agents intend to destroy the alien, retrieve the true Lester from Rexor IV and set things back to how they were before he left. Before they can do that they have to prove in court he isn’t human. They expect his wife Jill to testify to the change she saw in him. Instead, choosing this affectionate alien to take the place of her husband, she claims she never noticed anything odd, and this Lester is allowed to live.

“Human Is” was adapted for the first season of Electric Dreams where the costumes and production design look like community theater. The husband is a military officer instead of a scientist, but otherwise the story is the same. 

Cast of characters

  • Lester Herrick – a toxicologist for the military
  • Jill Herrick – Lester’s wife
  • Frank – Jill’s brother
  • Gus – Jill’s nephew
  • Clearance Director Douglas

The Father-Thing

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Dec 1954

In a story that sounds similar to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Charles Walton realizes his father has been replaced by an alien imposter. Charles enlists two friends for help, and together they find and burn the bug-like creature that controls the father-thing, which in turn destroys the father-thing and the Charles-thing which had just matured.

“The Father-Thing” was adapted for Electric Dreams as one of the better episodes of the first season.

Cast of characters

  • Charles Walton – eight-year-old boy whose father has been replaced by an alien
  • June Walton – Charles’s mother
  • Ted Walton – Charles’s father / the father-thing
  • Tony Peretti, Bobby Daniels – Charles’s friends who help him defeat the father-thing

The Hanging Stranger

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Science Fiction Adventures Dec 1953

Ed Loyce is the only one who seems to find the dead stranger strung up from a lamp post in Pikeville’s town park out of the ordinary. He reports it to the police who want to take him in for questioning, but he escapes from them and discovers the town of Pikeville has been invaded by insect-like aliens from another dimension who have taken on the appearance of everyone in the town, including his family.

He flees to the neighboring town of Oak Grove and attempts to warn the police commissioner there. But the commissioner explains to Loyce that the stranger was hanged in Pikeville as bait to draw out anyone from the town who wasn’t yet under the control of the aliens. Loyce realizes too late he is fated to become the hanging stranger in the similarly-overrun Oak Grove.

“The Hanging Stranger” was adapted as the more politically-minded and muddled tv episode “Kill All Others” in the first season of Electric Dreams.

Cast of characters

  • Ed Loyce – owner of Loyce TV Sales and Service
  • Don Fergusson – salesman at Loyce TV Sales and Service
  • Jack Potter – works at the shoe shop by the town park
  • Jenkins – a stationary clerk
  • Margaret Henderson – works at the jewelry store by the town park
  • Janet Loyce – Ed’s wife
  • Tommy and Jimmy – Ed’s sons
  • The police commissioner of Oak Grove


Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Jun 1953

A crew of explorers from Earth looking for a planet to colonize seem to have found a so-called Garden of Eden. That is until Major Lawrence Hall’s microscope tries to strangle him. Soon after corresponding reports pour in of other crew members being assaulted by inanimate objects in the same way.

They eventually figure out Planet Blue is home to a hostile native life form that can perfectly mimic non-biological items. The only chance of escape without inadvertently bringing this murderous bugger along is to board a rescue ship sans all their clothing. Too bad in the hubbub of getting naked no one considers the life form can mimic the rescue ship too.

In 1956 this story was adapted for NBC’s X Minus One radio series.

Cast of characters

  • Major Lawrence Hall 
  • Lieutenant Friendly 
  • Commander Stella Morrison
  • Captain Taylor – attacked by a rug
  • Lieutenant Dodds – attacked by his gloves
  • Corporal Tenner – attacked by a safety mat
  • Captain Unger – swallowed up by his car
  • Gail Thomas – presumably killed by her uniform
  • Corporal Hendricks – swimming with Gail Thomas when she disappears
  • Captain Daniel Davis – captain of the nearest Terran cruiser