Read in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories and Novels 1956. (ed T.E. Dikty, Frederic Fell, 1956).
I started this story with high hopes – one from no less an author than Tom ‘The Cold Equations’ Godwin, but found that this story doesn’t quite live up to his most famous work.
This is very much a Twilight Zone type story, where you need to check in your suspension of disbelief from an early stage. The story : a man driving through remote countryside near a nuclear testing range sees some large, upright lizard-like creatures in his headlights, but drives on. He ponders what he saw, and, also, why the incident is one that has not given him more pause for thought.
Some time later he researches around the region, and finds evidence that others have been in the area, seen something strange, but are evidently hazy about the details. He heads back to the remote area and comes across the upright lizards – it transpires that they have been affected by the gamma rays, and in addition to now being bipedal, and intelligent, that have learnt English, can communicate telephathically with us, and, furthermore can control our memory, and are actively working on supporting The Cold War.
As I say, rather fanciful stuff, and not a patch on The Cold Equations. I did a little research and was a bit disappointed to find reference to Godwin having had that story sent back for rewriting by editor John W. Campbell three times, leading Algis Budrys to note that this story was the best one that Godwin never wrote. And, evidently there were two stories with very similar themes in years just prior to Godwin’s story.