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I'm trying to remember an old sci-fi novel. I'm sure it was no later than 1980.

The plot:

  1. The novel starts with the alien being banished to Earth, as a punishment for some crime he committed.

  2. He doesn't have a physical body per se. But, he inhabits and take over the body and mind of a human, animal or basically any sentient creature.

  3. This is similar to the movie, The Host, minus the romance and the host's ability to resist the control.

  4. The alien takes over only if the Host is asleep.

  5. The alien starts with taking over a cat. It realises it's not the master, makes the cat commit suicide, moves to a dog and eventually takes over the minds of a human.

  6. The alien targets scientists because he wants to return back to his home planet.

  7. The chief scientist, a man, decides to stay up to fight back. He and another scientist, a woman, are the last. He dozes for just a second and the alien takes over.

  8. When she doubts him, she ties him down to prevent another suicide.

Does this sound familiar?

Sadly I don't recall the cover nor the Publisher as I was just a kid.

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this and when do you think it might've been published? Also, do you recall anything about the cover? Feb 13, 2023 at 19:36
  • Probably in the 90s as a child. I think it was, maybe, published in the 60s or 70s
    – John
    Feb 13, 2023 at 19:40
  • If someone has access to chatGPT, I think it might help xD
    – John
    Feb 13, 2023 at 19:50
  • 3
    ChatGPT answers are explicitly not allowed on Stack Exchange due to that the program is basically built to provide convincing answers even when they're wrong.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 13, 2023 at 20:36
  • 2
    @FuzzyBoots - Nonsense! It assured me quite confidently that "The book you're thinking of is probably "The Forgotten One" by George R. R. Martin, which was first published in 1971" (before Martin had published any books, no less).
    – Adamant
    Feb 13, 2023 at 21:00

1 Answer 1

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The Mind Thing by Fredric Brown, published in 1961.

The main (human) protagonist is Doc Staunton. Once he works out that the suicides are being caused by an alien he traps it by having his assistant Miss Talley tie him up:

Twice within the next hour she had to throw water in his face. Both times he’d been talking and had stopped in the middle of a sentence as his eyes went shut. It was six o’clock when it happened the second time; it would be dark within another hour or so. He doubted that he could possibly stay awake even that long, and certainly not much longer.

When he had dried his face with the towel, he stood up, swaying a bit. “Miss Talley,” he said, “it’s no use going on this way; even if I put carpet tacks on a chair and sit on them I’ll lose consciousness eventually. We’ve got to do one of two things. There’s danger in both of them, for you as well as for me, so I’m going to let you decide which we should do.

“One, I leave now while there’s time for me to walk to town—or at least to the nearest farm that has a telephone. I’ll take the shotgun and leave you the pistol. Maybe I’ll make it; maybe we’re overestimating the danger and overestimating the range at which the enemy can operate. Anyway, if I do make it I’ll see that you’re rescued. There’ll be state police, several carloads of them with shotguns and tommy guns… If I don’t get through—”

“No,” Miss Talley said firmly. “If you go, we both go, and I do the driving. Or afoot, if you think there’s any advantage to that. But why would there be?”

“It should keep me awake, for one thing. And for another, I can watch upward. As I said before, a heavy bird diving from a sufficient height would probably go right through the roof of a car as light as that, and kill whichever one of us it landed on. But your going with me wasn’t the alternative to my first suggestion. I don’t know whether the alternative is more dangerous, or less.

“It’s simply that I go to sleep, here in this room on the sofa, but that we take the precaution of having you tie me up first. There’s fifty feet of clothesline in the kitchen, so you can do a thorough job of it. First, our idea of what may happen to me if I sleep is only a deduction; we can be wrong. Second, if the enemy does take me over, I’ll be tied up so he’ll be helpless to make me do anything, such as injure you, and also unable to make me kill myself so he’ll be free to take another host. And that would mean it would be safe for you to drive into town and bring help.”

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