Ivan Janvier. Thing. (Fantastic Universe, March 1955)

Read in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories and Novels 1956. (ed T.E. Dikty, Frederic Fell, 1956).

Ivan Janvier being a pseudonym of the prolific Algis Budrys. Written some 18 or more years after John W. Campbell’s ‘The Thing’, but with a similar underpinning idea.

Something strange is being investigated by a secret government agency. One Marvin Gorcey, has seeming re-invented himself from an otherwise unremarkable person who survived a nuclear fallout incident (but only just) to a much more successful character, who seems to be able to bend agencies and their employees to his whims.

Having side-stepped a journalist who is on the track of the story the slip, the lead investigator tracks down the man resplendent under the name Eugene Outlaw, and is pleased with himself when he tricks his way into seeing the man.

However, when he finds out that he has been expected the tables are turned….

In fact the tables are very nicely turned in the closing sentences, as not only does the lead investigator willingly take on a role of host to the Thing, but so does his junior partner, and, indeed, the journalist. And they head out into the world, on a mission to prevent humanity from destroying itself. It’s a neat counterpoint to the rather less successful ‘You Created Us‘ by Tom Godwin earlier in the volume.

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