I'm not sure I recall enough of this story for a good identification, and the below is definitely out of story order, but...

The POV character goes to his home town and finds it different. He later finds that he's trapped in the town; there are two young people who turn out later on to be ... avatars ... of Ormazd and Ahriman, and the town is a battleground; what he is seeing of the town is Ahriman's effect on the town, and he turns out to have some limited ability to see the original town, which is more-or-less Ormazd's version of reality. In the end, Ahriman's avatar is destroyed, and the town restored.

I read this in the '80s or earlier; it was part of my father's collection, and the book was showing its age; I think it more likely to be the '60s rather than the '50s, and was probably by a prominent name in SF, but not one of the Masters.

1 Answer 1


I believe you are looking for The Cosmic Puppets, by Philip K. Dick.

The protagonist returns to his home town after some years away, to find it different. Street names and landmarks are changed, and the inhabitants do not remember it any other way. He investigates while his wife wanders in a different direction, and meets some others including a town drunk that remembers the Change (As it is called).

There are two people in the town waging a proxy war, using various insects, spiders, cats, rats, etc., which turn out to be avatars for Ahriman and Ormazd.

It was published in 1957, and is a revision of A Glass of Darkness, first published in the December 1956 Satellite Science Fiction.

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