tag: War with Aliens

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

Some Kinds of Life

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First published in Fantastic Universe Oct-Nov 1953

Bob Clarke is called up to fight in the war against the Martians in order to secure access to the rexeroid deposits on Mars. Without rexeroid the control boards of the cars on Earth wouldn’t function and everyone would have to go back to manual steering. This conflict with the Martians is the latest in a string of skirmishes over Earth’s necessary domestic materials after the clashes with Venus over the kyron ore that maintains their home’s temperature and Pluto for the lonolite that powers their computers.

Bob is one of the many casualties of the rexeroid war, and boys under eighteen are then drafted in order to meet the quota for soldiers. Bob’s son Tommy is sent into combat against the natives on Calisto for the gleco that controls the keyless entry to their homes. He survives but dies not long after during the trektone war on Europa. Soon the only way for Terra to fill its ranks is to draft women, and Joan is enlisted for battle in the nymphite war on Saturn.

The last thing we see are aliens arriving from Orion some time later to find elaborate homes from an advanced civilization but no sign of the Terrans who used to live there.

In order to avoid having two stories credited to Philip K. Dick, “Some Kinds of Life” was published under the pseudonym Richard Phillips when it appeared alongside his story “Planet for Transients” in Fantastic Universe in 1953.

Cast of characters

  • Joan Clarke – our protagonist
  • Bob Clarke – Joan’s husband
  • Tommy Clarke – Joan and Bob’s son
  • Erickson – the Sector Organizer

Tony and the Beetles

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Orbit Science Fiction #2 Dec 1953

A young boy has lived his entire life with his family on a planet in the Orion system. The Earth’s colonists have dominated the Pas-uedti natives which the humans refer to as Beetles both because of their appearance and because of Betelgeuse, the planet’s sun. When a Terran warfleet is defeated by the Beetles in a battle, the Pas-udeti begin to rise up against their oppressors, surprising the boy and teaching him a lesson about how the Pas-udeti really feel about the colonists inhabiting their planet.

Cast of characters

  • Tony Rossi – a young colonist on an alien planet
  • Joseph Rossi – Tony’s father
  • Leah Rossi – Tony’s mother
  • B’prith, Llyre – Pas-udeti children who Tony naively believes will remain his friends even after the tide has turned in the war with Terra

Prize Ship

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Thrilling Wonder Stories Winter 1954

The only way for Terran ships to resupply the Earth’s colonies at Promixa is from the launching point at Ganymede. The Ganymedeans realize the leverage they have and hold their launch pads as ransom, demanding twenty per cent of all goods for their continued use. Just as Earth is about to give in to this arrangement they get a report of a captured Ganymedean ship.

Four men volunteer to pilot the ship hoping it can reach Promixa. The first place they land is populated by tiny humans six inches tall. The second place they encounter is ruled by giants. At this point the men have recognized the similarities to Johnathan Swift’s fictional lands of Lilliput and Brobdingnag. Before they are crushed by a giant they return to Earth where a Ganymedean, who has arrived to claim the Gany property, informs them they were actually traveling in time and explains how the relativity of size in the expanding universe shrinks the past and enlarges the future.

Cast of characters

  • General Thomas Groves, Major Stiller, Commander James Carmichel, Doctor Earl Basset – volunteers who take the captured Ganymedean ship on a test run

The Variable Man

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Space Science Fiction Sep 1953

A failed experiment with faster-than-light travel shows promise as a potential bomb that could instantly destroy the Centaurans, but the problem of the central control unit has so far been unsolvable. This all changes when Thomas Cole, an itinerant handyman with the uncanny ability to fix anything, is accidentally brought forward to the present from the year 1913.

The statistical computer can no longer reliably compute odds of victory at all once this ‘variable man’ is around. Security commissioner Reinhart wants Cole killed before the Council realizes the odds of winning the war are no longer in their favor, while the Military Design director Sherikov wants Cole to help him fix the control unit of the so-called Icarus bomb. Cole does eventually ‘fix’ the bomb by figuring out why it wasn’t working as a ftl drive in the first place. Reinhart still tries to kill Cole, Earth loses the war with Centarus when the bomb doesn’t explode (which doesn’t really matter since now Earth possesses the knowledge of faster-than-light travel), the scheming Reinhart is removed from power and Sherikov promises to send Cole back to his own time.

Cast of characters

  • Eric Reinhart – the security commissioner
  • Kaplan – lab organizer
  • Peter Sherikov – director of Military Designs
  • Thomas Cole – handyman from 1913 with the intuitive ability to fix anything
  • Margaret Duffe – President of the Council
  • Joseph Dixon – Reinhart’s second in command

Mr. Spaceship

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Imagination Jan 1953

During a war between Earth and aliens from a planet in the Proxima Centauri system the Earth strategists decide to replace the guidance control in one of their ships with a human brain as a new approach to combat the organic mines that defend Proxima.

Dolores, wife of the engineer Kramer, suggests a professor from their college years as ‘the brain’, and Professor Thomas, quite old by this point, eventually agrees.

The professor though has lived long enough to understand the futility of war, and once his consciousness is in control of the ship it’s clear he has no intention of taking part in the plan to break through Proxima’s defenses. Instead he uses a couple of ruses to get both Kramer and Dolores on board and then sets off to find a habitable planet they can populate in order to build a civilization that can hopefully break the cycle of war.

Cast of characters

  • Kramer – an engineer in Earth’s war effort against the Yucconae of Proxima Centauri
  • Gross – Commander of Earth’s Internal Security
  • Dolores – Kramer’s estranged wife
  • Dale Winter – Kramer’s second in line
  • Michael Thomas – a professor who taught Kramer and Dolores when they were in school