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I would like some help finding a story. I read this story in a library over a decade ago, so I don't think it's a new story.

I believe it was a science fiction short story. It might have been illustrated in black and white.

I think it was written with a third person narrator. Sort of abstract writing. It might even have been written like a long poem. No characters had names, or at least none were really a protagonist with fleshed out personality.

Plot I can remember:

Scientists are working on a large machine or computer that will make a huge discovery when turned on. The discovery is described as making a rip in dimensions. There are countless monsters and creatures waiting on the other side in a different dimension, waiting for the machine to be turned on and to enter our world and cause havoc. Then, as if the universe or nature is feeling this approaching doom or unnatural disturbance to the order of the universe, animals gather at the facility. maybe rabbits and mice - and they chew through the cables and wires of the computer. Then the machine doesn't work when turned on, and doom is averted. The creatures were also nameless, only referred to as beings or nightmares or creatures or some other word evocative of sentience and danger but not specific or a name. Like a general beings of eldritch horror? The scientists don't know they are there so they have no name for them.

It ends with a feeling of "doom was averted this time but the creatures are always waiting to be unleashed."

Unfortunately I can't remember anything more specific than that. I remember it felt like a Ray Bradbury story or older science fiction in the way it was short, not necessarily a happy ending, and third person.

I think it may be an older story because it evokes a feeling of "new science discoveries unleashing unknown horror and humanity should be careful" that a lot of stories explored after the atom bomb was made. I guess that's just science fiction in general, probing the pitfalls of robots, space travel, and new technology.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you recall anything about the book itself? Hardcover or paperback? Do you remember the cover art?
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 3:28
  • I'm not sure if it was my imagination while reading it, but if it was illustrated then I think it might have been a large squarish shape like other illustrated kids books. I think soft cover.
    – Spots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 17:55
  • If I imagined the illustrations, then it was probably part of an anthology of science fiction short stories. Also soft cover but regular page shape. If it was illustrated then there might be an image of a fish monster with jagged teeth but if there isn't then I might have just imagined it from a description of the creatures. No memory of the cover itself.
    – Spots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 18:04

1 Answer 1

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It's not a short story, but On the Flip Side by Nicholas Fisk partially matches up. This review has more details than the blurb.

Lettice can speak with animals. If she looks into their eyes she can see images that tell her things, and what they tell her is that the world is threatened by Blobs.

Fisk's On the Flip Side is a humorous horror story in which the mad scientist cracks jokes but is a genius, television produces "Rasters", waves which produce the blobs which -- first unthinkingly, then with malevolence--attack animals and humans.

What makes the story interesting--and it took me three goes to get past the first chapter--is that Lettice isn't very nice and is not in the least bit redeemed by the world's eventual realisation that she is telling the truth (she hates it in fact) and that the animals and humans eventually flee Earth for a Victorian analogue where they forget their old world almost totally.

What does not match is what is mentioned in that last paragraph, that disaster is not averted, and the blobs succeed in taking over our world.

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  • If so, it would be a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/153839/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 5:12
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    If you think this is a possible match, the book can be borrowed at archive.org/details/onflipside0000fisk to check.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 5:18
  • I don't believe it's this. No characters had names, or at least none were really a protagonist with fleshed out personality.
    – Spots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 17:58
  • The creatures were also nameless, only referred to as beings or nightmares or creatures or some other word evocative of sentience and danger but not specific or a name. Like a general beings of eldritch horror? The scientists don't know they are there so they have no name for them.
    – Spots
    Commented Mar 4, 2023 at 18:11

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