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The Men Return

Author: Jack Vance
Year written: 1955
Author’s age at the time: 39
Year published: 1957
Year revised: 1969
Publication: Infinity Science Fiction
Dutch title: De mensen keren terug, De mannen keren terug
French title: Le retour des hommes
Genre: short story, SF

Quote:

Out on the plain one of the Organisms, Alpha, sat down, caught a handful of air, a globe of blue liquid, a rock, kneaded them together, pulled the mixture like taffy, gave it a great heave. It uncoiled from his hand like rope. The Relict crouched low. No telling what deviltry would occur to the creature. He and all the rest of them unpredictable! The Relict valued their flesh as food; but the Organisms would eat him if opportunity offered. In the competition he was at a great disadvantage. Their random acts baffled him. If, seeking to escape, he ran, the worst terror would begin. The direction he set his face was seldom the direction the varying frictions of the ground let him move. But the Organisms were as random and uncommitted as the environment, and the double set of disorders sometimes compounded, sometimes canceled each other. In the latter case the Organism might catch him...It was inexplicable. But then, what was not? The word ‘explanation’ had no meaning.

Republished in The Moon Moth and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012