Killdozer! (short story)

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Astounding Science Fiction (Nov. 1944). Cover art by William Timmins.

"Killdozer!" is a science fiction/horror novella by Theodore Sturgeon originally published in the magazine Astounding (Nov. 1944) and revised for the 1959 collection Aliens 4.

The story inspired a 1974 TV-movie and a Marvel Comics adaptation by Gerry Conway and Richard Ayers in Worlds Unknown #6 (April 1974).

Plot summary[edit]

An eight-man construction crew is building an airstrip and related facilities on a small pacific island during the course of World War II. They uncover and break open an ancient stone "temple."

This releases an ancient being composed of pure energy, leftover from a war involving sentient machines in a long-lost civilization, which "possesses" a bulldozer being used by the construction crew. The being's purpose was to take over the "enemy's" machines and attack the enemy. When released from the ancient stone temple that contained it, it believes that the bulldozer (called "Daisy Etta" by the workers in the island, a mispronunciation of De-Siete (D7, in Spanish) is important to its intentions, possesses it, and it begins killing the workers. Ultimately, two of the three surviving workers—one goes insane—manage to destroy the bulldozer and (presumably) the creature.

While trying to write a report on what happened, the two sane workers are despairing of anyone believing them. Then, bombs fall from the sky, blasting the whole area below them, including the places the killdozer damaged and the graves of their fellow workers. One worker tears up the report he was writing and throws it in the air, thrilled that an explanation is now available -- enemy action in wartime.

Circumstances of writing[edit]

This story represents Sturgeon's sole output between the years 1941 and 1945. Everything else that was published during this time had been written before. Sturgeon suffered from long bouts of writer's block, but was somehow able to produce this story in 9 days. It is one of his most famous stories, and was his most financially successful during the first decade of his career.[1]


In the TV movie version, the alien energy is contained in a meteor found by the crew's excavation. In the Marvel Comics version, the alien being's origin more closely follows Sturgeon's original story.

Reprint history[edit]

  • The Best of Science Fiction, edited by Groff Conklin (Crown, 1946 and 1963)
  • Famous Fantastic Mysteries vol. 14, #1 (Dec. 1952)
  • Aliens 4 (Avon, 1959)
  • Spectrum 3, edited by Kingsley Amis, Robert Conquest (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964)
  • Wondermakers, edited by Robert Hoskins (Fawcett Crest, 1972)
  • Strange Orbits, edited by Amabel Williams-Ellis (Blackie, 1976)
  • Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction, Third Series, edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg (Bonanza/Crown, 1984)
  • Machines That Kill, edited by Fred Saberhagen, Martin H. Greenberg (Ace, 1984)
  • A Touch of Sturgeon, by Theodore Sturgeon (Simon & Schuster UK, 1987)
  • Cinemonsters, edited by Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg, Frank D. McSherry Jr. (TSR, 1987)
  • Baker's Dozen: 13 Short Horror Novels, edited by Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg (Crown/Bonanza, 1987)
  • To Marry Medusa, by Theodore Sturgeon (Baen, 1987)
  • The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction: Short Novels of the 1940s, edited by Isaac Asimov, Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg (Robinson, 1989)
  • Astounding Stories: The 60th Anniversary Collection, Volume 2, edited by James E. Gunn (Easton Press, 1990)
  • Killdozer!: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon Volume 3, by Theodore Sturgeon (North Atlantic Books, 1996)
  • Selected Stories, by Theodore Sturgeon (Vintage Books, 2000)


  1. ^ The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 3, notes by Paul Williams, pages 341-348.

External links[edit]