This is a sci-fi story set on Earth. From the depths of space comes these microbes that latch onto electromagnetic fields. Anything electronic is rendered useless. There's the usual stuff where governments try to solve the issue but make it ultimately worse. It's only when they realise that the microbes surround the planet that they realise it is futile.

The story closes with people having returned to a simpler life, using medieval farming methods, not using electricity in any form, getting about by horse, etc.

I think it was a short story.

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    Welcome to SFF. If you have two questions (about two different stories) you need to ask them as two questions
    – Valorum
    Jan 25, 2019 at 17:57
  • Hi there! As these appear to be two separate stories, I've taken the liberty to edit out the second one, which you'll have to ask in a separate question :) (see How to Ask). This way, people will be able to provide answers that do answer one question only; may I invite you to take the tour to see how things work here? Please also take a look at the guidelines on story-ID, see if that triggers any more memories you could edit in. Cheers!
    – Jenayah
    Jan 25, 2019 at 17:59
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    And, in case it wasn't absolutely clear, you're encouraged to go ahead and create that second question now - no need to wait aND see what happend to this one! You can copy what you posted about it by clicking the "edited <however long ago>" link to the left of your name at the bottom of the post (or the link earlier in this sentence).
    – RDFozz
    Jan 25, 2019 at 18:38
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    I recall this story -- at the end, there's a scene of starting up a diesel engine powered generator every so often (weekly?) to see if the electricity eaters (I want to call them "waverleys") have gone, while life goes on without electricity of any kind. No explanation of how animal nervous systems continue to operate, however...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 25, 2019 at 18:52
  • I read it a long time ago, so it was probably published before 1970, certainly before 1980. From setting, seemingly 1930s or 1940s at the latest.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 25, 2019 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


This is likely Fredric Brown's "The Waveries". Although the organisms are electromagnetic in nature, and are called - wait for it - "vaders" as well as "waveries".

They block first all radio and TV transmissions, then shut down electrical power and even lightning. The world ends up running on muscle power again in the end.

user14111 pointed out that it's online in the January 1945 Astounding here.

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    Steam trains, diesel and hydraulic equipment, still in use -- as long as it didn't need electricity for ignition or control, it would still work. Now, starting a large diesel engine could be a chore, but air starters were around as long ago as diesel trucks -- and you can hand pump the air tank if you have to.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 14, 2021 at 19:29
  • @ZeissIkon yeah, years ago when I worked on a farm, the boss told us to get an old diesel tractor running again. It took a long time to clean it up and get it running but it had zero electricity - we pull-started it with another tractor. Jan 14, 2021 at 19:35

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