Ages ago, I read a sci-fi book about an alien telepath, very human in shape, who can suck knowledge, experiences, and personalities out from the brain of humans, killing them in the process. He tries to climb up the 'social ladder', getting a high-profile fiancee, using the skills he 'learned' from being a playboy, and being killed by the girl's cats at the end.

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    Please visit scifi.stackexchange.com/tags/story-identification/info and look at the prompts there to see what information they might elicit. For example, was this a hardback book or a paperback? In English? When did you read it? Was it a famous author? Where did you read it? Are there any books you know it isn't because you've looked them up already?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 19:00
  • Throwing this out there: Lady May in The Game of Rat and Dragon, by Cordwainer Smith? Or, Lady May in The Game of Rat and Dragon, by Cordwainer Smith..?
    – wcullen
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 2:32
  • @wcullen - and the difference between the two items you cite is...?
    – RDFozz
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 17:06
  • Er...the second one is an ellipsis with a question mark..? D'oh...thanks...obviously I totally missed that and now can't even remember what the actual second one was :-P
    – wcullen
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 17:56
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    I realised at last how to locate the book - it was published (translated into italian) in the series 'Urania'. I had a vague memory that there were cats on the cover...there is a site where one can find all the issues of Urania - with their front-pages . After many trials...hey presto! found! it was 'Encounter' by J. Hunter Holly, published in the early '60. Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Per the OP comment above, this story was "Encounter" (1959) by J. Hunter Holly. ISFDB lists it as being published in both Urania #247 (1961) and Urania #556 (1970).

According to the back cover plot summary for a standalone printing of the story provided at goodreads.com:

The space ship came plummeting out of the sky---a soundless, streaking, purple glow, moving faster and faster until it ripped at the trees, crashed through them and struck sickeningly against a hill. Momentarily it flared brightly, then went out.

It was not long after that the murders began---strange, inexplicable deaths, all victims found with their heads crushed as if their skulls had exploded outward.

The trail of victims led from Arkansas to Tennessee, to Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan---sixteen unrelated people who had only one thing in common: All of their brains were withered, as if sucked dry of their contents...

And somewhere wandered an evil stranger from another planet, his personality expanding, his brain power increasing, preparing for the inevitable encounter that could make him master of the world!

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