The Leech

Cover image for


Author: Phillips Barbee
Published: 1952
Language: English
Wordcount: 6,671 / 27 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 73.3
LoC Category: PZ
Downloads: 1,087
Added to site: 2009.07.28 24819

A visitor should be fed, but this one could eat you out of house and home ... literally!

Show Excerpt

The ever-hungry body screamed for more food, faster!

Now that it had reached a fairly efficient size, it was fully awake. It puzzled over the energy-impressions around it, locating the source of the new food massed in one spot.

Effortlessly it pushed itself into the air, flew a little way and dropped on the food. Its super-efficient cells eagerly gulped the rich radioactive substances. But it did not ignore the lesser potentials of metal and clumps of carbohydrates.

* * * * *

"The damned fools," General O'Donnell said. "Why did they have to panic? You'd think they'd never been trained." He paced the ground outside his tent, now in a new location three miles back.

The leech had grown to two miles in diameter. Three farming communities had been evacuated.

Micheals, standing beside the general, was still stupefied by the memory. The leech had accepted the massed power of the weapons for a while, and then its entire bulk had lifted in the air. The Sun had been


Average Rating of 3.5 from 2 reviews: ****
Lisa Carr

Well, a spore adrift in space for a gazillion years falls to Earth and starts eating. Anything. Matter, energy, it isn't particular. The military's efforts to destroy it only help it grow. What\'s to be done?
A sort of a magicscience fiction story, in that "science can't explain" how the thing is, but it is, just accept it. The characters could be two-dimensional, if they were developed a little more. The general is convincingly stupid, and, luckily, no women were ever placed in danger, because there seem not to be any on this Earth.


Predating both the 1953 film, War of the Worlds, and the 1958 The Blob, this is the sort of story I think of when people talk about \"The Golden Age\" of science fiction; a simpler time, when scientists all used slide-rulers, the hero in horn-rimmed glasses might as well be named Doctor Clayton Forrester, and the military general in charge of getting rid of the enemy can\'t wait to use nuclear weapons in upstate New York. It\'s also the sort of story where generic Science is simply a stand-in for magic; it doesn\'t matter what sort of science is being used as a weapon (the hero is an anthropologist, great for explaining patterns in human culture, perhaps not my first choice in battling blob-like extraterrestrials), but quibbling about this is missing the point. It\'s a fun story, even if there are no female characters and the military decided to use the code name Operation Leech when attacking the Leech, because apparently that\'s how code names worked in 1952.">\"Have you figured out some scientific way of killing it?\"

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