The Body Snatchers
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First edition cover illustrated by John McDermott
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
The Body Snatchers is a 1955 science fiction novel by American writer Jack Finney, originally serialized in Colliers Magazine in 1954, which describes real-life Mill Valley, California (called in the original film by the fictional name of "Santa Mira") being invaded by seeds that have drifted to Earth from space. The seeds, grown from plantlike pods, replace sleeping people with perfect physical duplicates with all the same knowledge, memories, scars, etc. but are incapable of human emotion or feeling. The human victims disappear forever.
The duplicates live only five years and cannot sexually reproduce; consequently, if unstopped, they will quickly turn Earth into a dead planet and move on to the next world. One of the duplicate invaders claims this is what humans do — use up resources, wipe out indigenous populations, and destroy ecosystems in the name of survival.
Unlike the first three film adaptations, which elected for darker, far more dystopian narratives, the novel contains an optimistic ending, with the aliens voluntarily vacating after deciding that they cannot tolerate the type of resistance they see in the main characters.
The seed pods, says Finney, drifted across interstellar space to Earth, propelled by light pressure. This echoes a familiar notion, the spore theory of Arrhenius. But the spores referred to are among the smallest living things – small enough to be knocked around by hydrogen molecules...In confusing these minute particles with three-foot seed pods, Finney invalidates his whole argument – and makes ludicrous nonsense of the final scene in which the pods, defeated, float up into the sky to hunt another planet.
Horrifyingly depicts the invasion of a small town by interstellar spores that duplicate human beings, reducing them to dust in the process; the menacing spore-people who remain symbolize, it has been argued, the loss of freedom in contemporary society. Jack Finney's further books are slickly told but less involving.
Galaxy reviewer Groff Conklin faulted the original edition, declaring that "Too many s-f novels lack outstanding originality, but this one lacks it to an outstanding degree." F&SF| reviewer Anthony Boucher found it to be "intensely readable and unpredictably ingenious" despite noticeable inconsistencies and its sometimes lack of scientific accuracy. Astounding Science-Fiction reviewer P. Schuyler Miller reported that, once Finney sets out his premise, the novel becomes "a straight chase yarn, with several nice gimmicks and a not entirely convincing denouement."
- Finney, Jack (c. 1955). The Body Snatchers. New York: Dell Publishing.
- Finney, Jack (1955). The Body Snatchers. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode.
- Finney, Jack (1978). The Body Snatchers. New York: Dell Publishing.
- Finney, Jack (1979). The Body Snatchers. Los Angeles: California: Fotonovel Publications. It features 350 color stills from the 1978 remake
- The Day of the Triffids (1951), a science fiction novel by English author John Wyndham, involving tall venomous carnivorous plants capable of locomotion and communication.
- The Puppet Masters (1951), a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein in which a trio of American government agents attempts to thwart a covert invasion of Earth by mind-controlling alien parasites.
- It Came from Outer Space (1953), based on a Ray Bradbury's original story treatment "The Meteor", which involves an alien invasion wherein humans are duplicated by the aliens.
- "The Father-thing" (December 1954), a short story by Philip K. Dick, appearing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, uses the ideas of pods duplicating humans and fire being the means of destroying the pods.
- "The Dark Brotherhood", a short story in the collection The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces, written as a collaboration between by H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth sometime before Lovecraft's death in 1937 but not released until 1966. The story deals with extraterrestrial creatures who possess human beings.
- Contamination (1980) a science fiction horror film that revisits parts of the novel.
- Invasion of the Pod People (2007), a mockbuster film from The Asylum intended to coincide with the premiere of the 2007 film The Invasion
- The Host (2008), a novel by Stephenie Meyer that depicts a world wherein the human population has already been taken over by parasitic aliens.
- Capgras delusion, a real psychiatric disorder which causes people to believe people are being replaced by identical duplicates.
- Knight, Damon (March 1967). "Half-Bad Writers". In Search of Wonder (2nd ed.). Chicago: Advent. pp. 72–75. ISBN 0-911682-15-5.
- Clute, John (1979). The Science Fiction Encyclopedia. New York: Doubleday & Co, Inc. ISBN 0-385-13000-7.
- Conklin, Groff (July 1955). "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. p. 92.
- Boucher, Anthony (May 1955). "Recommended Reading". F&SF. p. 71.
- Miller, P. Schuyler (September 1955). "The Reference Library". Astounding Science-Fiction. pp. 151–52.