tag: Extraterrestrials

The Alien Mind

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in The Yuba City High Times Feb 1981

Aboard his ship Jason Bedford is brought out of deep sleep to realize his cat Norman has gotten loose and knocked him off course by swatting at the control panel. He is scheduled for a delivery to Meknos III so he calls the Meknosians to explain his delay and while on the call with them gets angry enough to kill the cat for making him look stupid.

After he arrives at Meknos and makes his drop off the aliens ask him about his cat. He denies having a pet (which he flushed out the airlock) but while he is going through a decontamination procedure so he can leave the Meknosians search his ship. When he is finally on his way back to Terra he finds his deep sleep chamber is missing its power supply, his entertainment tapes have been swapped out for a cat toy and all his food has been replaced by cat kibble. 

Strangely the last short story Dick wrote was first published in The Yuba City High Times (a high school newspaper and not a marijuana enthusiast’s magazine like I first thought/hoped) after the son of an acquaintance of Dick’s wrote him and asked for a short story for the paper which Dick actually then sent over. “The Alien Mind” went on to be published in Fantasy & Science Fiction later that same year.

Cast of characters

  • Jason Bedford – intergalactic delivery man
  • the Meknosians

Return Match

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Feb 1967

Officer Tinbane is on another stakeout trying to finally catch some outspacers who are running an illegal gambling operation. As usual they destroy the building when they find out the cops are on to them, although this time a pinball game is recovered from the wreckage. 

Back at the police lab Tinbane continues to play this pinball game even after they can tell the machine is constructing a defense mechanism in the form of a catapult that will launch the pinball back at the player. The game takes advantage of Tinbane’s gambling nature, and as he is trying to beat the game and destroy the catapult the machine is building a scan of his brain pattern. When he goes back to his apartment that night (after narrowly avoiding death when the machine fights back with its catapult) he finds he is now in the center of a giant pinball game himself as he is attacked by enormous pinballs, and he hopes the police lab can construct a large catapult for him before it’s too late.

Cast of characters

  • Joseph Tinbane – a Superior Los Angeles police officer
  • Falkes – an S.L.A. police officer
  • An unnamed police lab technician 
  • Ted Donovan – the lab chief

Not By Its Cover

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Famous Science Fiction Summer 1968

Obelisk Books on Mars is receiving complaints about errors in its latest book, a translation of the first-century B.C. poem De Rerum Natura (aka On the Nature of Things) by Lucretius. Since it’s already gone through an expensive print run there is nothing Obelisk president Mr. Masters can do, but he agrees to meet with a scholar anyway who outlines all the problems with the translation. 

De Rerum Natura deals with the fleeting nature of life, but certain passages have been altered to indicate a philosophy of immortality. They eventually realize only the books bound in wub-fur have been changed. The wub is a native Mars creature, generally agreed upon to be pretty stupid, that is nearly impossible to kill, but when it does die the pelt continues to live. Through the books it is communicating this message of eternal life. Based on all this Mr. Masters calls his lawyer and updates his will. He wants his coffin after he dies to be lined in wub-fur. 

Dick returns here to the theme of one of his earliest stories: never underestimate a wub.

Cast of characters

  • Barney Masters – president of Obelisk Books
  • Mr. Brandice – member of Watchmen Over Distortion and Forged Artifacts Generally
  • Jack Snead – Obelisk’s copy editor
  • Luther Saperstein – business agent for the firm Flawless, Incorporated that procures the wub-fur

A Present for Pat

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First published in Startling Stories Jan 1954

Eric Blake, returning from a work trip to Ganymede, brings a minor Ganymedean deity back as a present for his wife Patricia. This ten-inch creature, when offered a bit of food, wakes up and explains he is actually from another dimension on the hunt for the evil Nar Dolk. Eric’s co-worker Matson from Terran Metals shows up at the house and offends the ornery god who then changes him into a toad. Patricia has a fit about that, and the god turns her to stone. 

Eric’s boss Bradshaw demands he come to work right away to report on his trip. Bradshaw isn’t happy that Eric let one of their best workers get turned into an amphibian, so he fires Eric but keeps the toad. Back at home, Eric, Patricia (benevolently no longer a statue) and the deity plot how to get Matson back when the police, along with Bradshaw, surround the house. Turns out it is illegal to transport non-Terran life to Earth. Eric makes a deal to change Matson back to a human if they call off the troops, which his boss accepts but then reneges on once the deity has converted Matson back. Just then the deity realizes (long after the reader) that Bradshaw is the evil Nar Dolk in disguise, and the two of them fight before disappearing to their own dimension. 

Cast of characters

  • Eric Blake – brings Tinokuknoi Arevulopapo to Earth from Ganymede
  • Tinokuknoi Arevulopapo – a Ganymedean deity
  • Patricia Blake – Eric’s wife
  • Thomas Matson – Eric’s co-worker
  • Horace Bradshaw – Eric’s boss
  • Jennings – works in the biology lab at Terran Metals

Martians Come in Clouds

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First published in Fantastic Universe Jun-Jul 1953

For the last several years blob-shaped aliens (nicknamed “buggies” for some reason) have been drifting down from the skies and landing in the trees and on the roofs of Earth. The humans react to these creatures by killing them even though they don’t seem to pose a threat, and after witnessing one of these encounters Ted Barnes warns his son Jimmy to steer clear of any buggies if he happens to see one. 

Of course the next day, while he is alone, Jimmy does spot a buggie in a tree. The buggie communicates telepathically to Jimmy that their planet has dried up, and all they want is to exist over Earth’s plentiful oceans. Jimmy heeds his father’s advice though and alerts some nearby men who burn the buggie to a crisp. Ted couldn’t be prouder, bragging about his son to anyone he sees after he hears the news.

A similar alien “threat” would show up again as the drifters a few years later in Dick’s novel The World Jones Made.

Cast of characters

  • Ted Barnes
  • Lena Barnes – Ted’s wife
  • Jimmy Barnes – Ted’s son
  • Mike Edwards, Ralf Drake – Jimmy’s friends

The Cosmic Poachers

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First published in Imagination Jul 1953

In the Sirius system some humans unexpectedly encounter an alien Adharan cruiser. They assume these aliens are pirates, and they confiscate their cargo of jewels, anticipating the haul will be a hot commodity back on Earth. It’s too bad the jewels are actually alien eggs which will hatch nicely in the warm Terran climate.

Cast of characters

  • Captain Shure
  • Navigator Nelson
  • Communications Officer Barnes