I'm looking for a short story that creeped me out as a kid.

It involves alien dolls, which are sold to humans as souvenirs but are designed to inject a deadly virus into any nearby human, allowing the aliens to invade Earth. I remember that as the aliens triumphantly invade the devastated Earth they chant something like "Those who moon over dolls are sentimental!" and "Decadent, sentimental fools do not deserve the planet that spawned them!"

Needless to say, I liked dolls even less after reading that.

It was in a collection of short stories that I read in the 1990s, sadly I don't recall who the author was or when it was written.

It was definitely in the children's section of the library and I think it was in the Young Adult shelf. There is a particularly horrible scene involving "death by doll" which would be unsuitable for younger readers. I have a feeling it was a well-known author, I would have more information but think I only read one or two stories from the collection before placing the book back on the shelf.

  • Adaption of Perigi's wonderful dolls? Summary: here. It's a long-shot that the OP is still here, but you never know.
    – bob1
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 2:43
  • I remember this story, or one very like it - I would've read it earlier, around mid-to-late 1980s. Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 21:51
  • Per Greenglassdragon's answer below it might be "The Gun That Didn't Go Bang" by Nicholas Fisk - I've found synopses of most of his short fiction but not that one, I've ordered a copy to check. Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 8:47
  • @KayJohnston Definitely not "The Gun That Didn't Go Bang", that's about a girl on a ship who defeats the navigation computer (which had gone insane and wanted to conquer the universe). Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


I think Nicholas Fisk wrote this. I recall this story described in the question. To elaborate, so that you can determine if I am referring to the right story. Humans who have so far discovered 4 worlds then discover a resource-poor desert planet where the aliens appear to need aid but don't accept it and dress in rags. The explorers exchange candy for the child aliens' dolls. After sufficient imports of the dolls to earth the dolls wake up and inject the sleeping humans with a needle that is protruded. They start with the children and then make their way to the grownups' bedrooms. The aliens recite the code and the story finishes with the rulers of < a large number of worlds, over 100 > were about to become the rulers of 4 more. It was one of many short stories in a collection in a library binding that I read it in. I would have read this around 86 I think. The cover artwork was more 60s/70s style. The cover illustration actually showed the very human-like alien holding a doll wearing a torn tunic on an arid landscape.


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