Aliens that only one person can see, as the rest of humanity is under a hypnotic illusion of normalcy. Aliens with hypnotic powers. Aliens who see humanity as only a food source.
Its a common enough story line. ‘Eight O’Clock in the Morning’ by Ray Nelson is a very short tale of one man who is awakened from the alien’s trance and what he does to counter them.
At the end of the show the hypnotist told his subjects, “Awake.”
Something unusual happened.
One of the subjects awoke all the way. This had never happened before. His name was George Nada and he blinked out at the sea of faces in the theatre, at first unaware of anything out of the ordinary. Then he noticed, spotted here and there in the crowd, the non-human faces, the faces of the Fascinators. They had been there all along, of course, but only George was really awake, so only George recognized them for what they were. He understood everything in a flash, including the fact that if he were to give any outward sign, the Fascinators would instantly command him to return to his former state, and he would obey.
‘Eight O’Clock in the Morning’ was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963.
Description: When given the command to awaken in a stage hypnosis show, volunteer George Nada is immediately and totally awake: he recognizes the aliens in the audience, something no one else seems to be aware of. Other signs, too, are now noticeable: the image of the the aliens on television, hypnotizing the audience to maintain the hypnotic illusion, posters that say “Marry and Reproduce”. He is able to turn the hypnotized audience against the aliens but at a cost.
Commentary: The story is rushed: the lead character is in immediate possession of too much information ti be really plausible. He immediately recognizes the Fascinators and even knows their name; he knows his “control” and even how to contact him; he is able to operate, albeit late at night, almost entirely at will. All in all, that’s a little too pat for my tastes.
And if the story sounds suspiciously similar to the movie “They Live”, its no wonder: John Carpenter bought the rights to the story in order to make the movie. It also is similar to the short story ‘Looking For Something’ by Frank Herbert, although the latter is much longer and is told from the perspective of the stage hypnotist, not the subject.
Recommendation: Really recommended only for the relation to “They Live”.
- Ray Nelson official website