I'm trying to locate a story I read in my American English textbook when I was in middle school, which would be around 1990. It was about a group of high school sophomores in an honors English class. As their first writing assignment of the year, the new teacher asks each student to write about the first day of school from some unique point of view. One student writes from the viewpoint of a student in a wheelchair. Another writes about a flea hopping from student to student. The main character writes about a new English teacher, who is actually an alien, sent to pave the way for a future invasion.

After he turns in the first draft of the story, weird things seem to start happening (although I cannot remember what). With each draft he turns in, the protagonist elaborates on the science fiction aspects of his story. Eventually, he starts to believe that the new English teacher actually is an alien invader, and he incorporates his own story recursively into itself. The English teacher sends him to see the principal, who reveals that the young writer has indeed gotten too close to the truth. The principal is an alien infiltrator, and he got rid of the old English teacher, who had been getting suspicious. The ending was ambiguous, I think, but the student was either killed by the principal or somehow whisked away, never to return to Earth.

1 Answer 1


It came to me in a brainwave. The story was "Future Tense" by Robert Lipsyte (who is not, primarily, a science fiction author). The story itself is not listed in the ISFDB, which makes me suspect that it was specifically commissioned for my English textbook.

  • ISFDB does accept reader suggestions. I've added an entry or two myself (although the curator is crusty enough that your first few items will almost certainly not be up to their standards).
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 2:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.