tag: War with Aliens

Stand-By

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First published in Amazing Oct 1963

The human stand-by for the President of the United States (a job held by the supercomputer Unicephalon 40-D) is a union post, and when the current stand-by dies, union officials choose layabout Max Fischer as his successor.

No one expects Unicephalon 40-D to fail, because it never has, but that’s before an army of aliens attacks, knocking out Unicephalon and promoting Fischer to Commander-and-Chief.

Fischer bungles the job, and news clown Jim Briskin claims Fischer isn’t legally President since he was never elected. Briskin then pushes for an election and announces his own candidacy. As Fischer moves to have the FBI silence Briskin, Unicephalon returns to power, declares war with the aliens and puts an end to these presidential shenanigans.

Cast of characters

  • Jim Briskin – everyone’s favorite news clown. Briskin also makes a bid for the Presidency in The Crack in Space.
  • Unicephalon 40-D – supercomputer / President of the United States
  • Maximilian Fischer – union member chosen to be the next stand-by POTUS
  • General Tompkins – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Leon Lait – Fischer’s cousin and Attorney General while Fischer is in charge

War Veteran

Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in If Mar 1955

A survivor of a war between Venus and Earth appears to somehow travel back in time, arriving on Earth days before the conflict begins when tensions between the two planets is at an all-time high. Earthmen at the City Hospital eventually uncover the Venusian plot to use a simulacra of a war veteran from the future to trick Earth into believing they will lose an upcoming war in order to prevent a war between the planets that Venus doesn’t want to fight.

This pulp potboiler, like a number of other stories Dick wrote in the 1950s, is populated with wooden characters and much too long.

Cast of characters

  • David Unger – the titular war vet who supposedly served under Nathan West
  • Vachel Patterson – cancer specialist at the City Hospital
  • Edwin LeMarr – neurologist at the City Hospital
  • Evelyn Cutter – records keeper at the City Hospital
  • John V-Stephens – a Venusian surgeon at the City Hospital
  • V-Rafia – a Venusian girl rescued from a crazed mob
  • Nathan West – Lieutenant on the battleship Wind Giant
  • Francis Gannet – owns Transplan Industries

Precious Artifact

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Galaxy Oct 1964

Mars is desperately needed by both Earth and Prox for their overflowing populations, but only Milt Biskle suspects that the Proxmen and not the humans were in fact the victors of the war fought over that planet.

When Milt travels back to Earth after his successful Martian terraforming project he finds his suspicions confirmed. The Proxmen have constructed an elaborate illusion that life on Earth has continued so they can lure the human engineers back to their home planet in order to now terraform it for Prox, since the oceans were vaporized during the war.

Milt eventually resigns himself to this reality and heads back to Mars with a kitten, the titular precious artifact which is itself part of the Prox simulation, something Milt doesn’t recognize.

Cast of characters

  • Milt Biskle – a terraforming engineer on Mars
  • Dr. DeWinter – Milt’s psychiatrist
  • Mary Ableseth – Milt’s tour guide companion back on Earth

Imposter

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First published in Astounding Science Fiction Jun 1953

During a war with Alpha Centauri on Earth Spencer Olham is captured by the government under suspicion of being an alien masquerading as a human. He escapes and attempts to prove his innocence, but it turns out he was this alien imposter all along and didn’t know it.

Dick had written nearly fifty short stories at this point as he really starts to dig into ‘what is human?’ a question he would spend a lot of time with in his later books and stories.

Gary Sinise stars in a 2002 movie, but there’s not much to recommend about such a dull adaptation… at least they kept the ending.

Cast of characters

  • Spencer Olham – part of a team developing a weapon to use against the alien invaders
  • Mary – Spencer’s wife
  • Nelson – works with Olham
  • Major Peters – member of government security

The Ganymede Takeover

The Ganymede Takeover
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The Ganymede Takeover is a forgettable collaboration Dick wrote with Ray Nelson in the mid-60s.

Worm-like, telepathic Ganymedeans have invaded Earth, and one of the few groups of humans still putting up a fight are the stupidly-named Neeg-parts, led by Percy X, in the hills of Tennessee. These Neeg-parts get ahold of some mind-warping technology designed for the U.N. and they finally fight off the Ganymedeans in the end.

Cast of characters

  • Mekkis – a Ganymedean civilian administrator who takes control of the bale of Tennessee
  • Koli – Military Administrator for the Ganymedeans. In control of the bale of Tennessee until Mekkis takes over
  • The Oracle – a precog Ganymedean creech
  • Percy X – leader of the Neeg-parts on Earth. A telepath
  • Lincoln Shaw – Percy X’s second-in-command
  • Joan Hiashi – intends to infiltrate the Neeg-parts on behalf of the Ganymedeans
  • Paul Rivers – a psychiatrist with the World Psychiatric Association
  • Gus Swenesgard – feudal baron of a plantation area in Tennessee
  • Rudolph Balkani – Chief of the Bureau of Psychedelic Research