I read a short story in an English textbook about fifteen years ago (the textbook was not new) where humans are colonizing an alien planet and they begin to get sick and then they start turning into blob aliens. I think there was a twist where they had been seeing the blob aliens and not realizing that they were former humans?

(I combed through stack exchange before posting, so hopefully I'm not duplicating a question. Also, the story is not Four in One.)

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you remember the cover, or anything else that might help identify the textbook?
    – DavidW
    Mar 15, 2023 at 15:37
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    It's not A planet named Shayol by Cordwainer Smith is it?
    – bob1
    Mar 15, 2023 at 21:54
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    Not really what you talk about, but there is a short story by Azimov about leaving beings being contaminated and having their eyes turning into some fluffy stuff. Mar 16, 2023 at 9:18
  • Okay, I went and read Drop Dead and Green Patches/Misbegotten Missionary and the synopsis for A Planet Named Shayol and The Voice in the Night. All were similar and very cool but not the story I’m seeking. I did some googling and I’m fairly sure my high school used the Holt Elements of Literature series of textbooks, probably the 2000 editions. Reading Asimov did remind me that there was some sort of hive mind involved in the transformation. (Thank you all for being so awesome!)
    – Shamooga
    Mar 17, 2023 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


The closest match I'm aware of, but possibly not what you're looking for, is "Drop Dead" (1956) by Clifford D. Simak. The aliens aren't exactly blobs but they come close. And the humans turn into them:

"Forget us!" Parsons barked at me. "We aren't human any more. In a few more days..." He grabbed the lantern and strode down the cages and held the lantern high, so that we could see. "Look," he said.

There were no animals. There were just the cocoons and the little critters and the cocoons that had split in half. I saw Kemper looking at me and there was, of all things, compassion on his face.

"You don't want to stay," he told me. "If you do, in a day or two, a critter will come in and drop dead for you. And you'll go crazy all the way back home - wondering which one of us it was."

The entire story can be read at the Internet Archive.

Asimov's Green Patches has a human transmutation being precipitated by aliens (that luckily for humanity's individuality, don't know enough about electricity) in newborns. No blobs there, though - merely green patches of fur often replacing eyes, depending on the being, and linking the subject to the hive mind. The pioneers (all males - no "life-givers" among them) aren't faced with transmuted humans and immediately recognize the danger.

A planet named Shayol has alien "dromozoans" growing blobs out of humans, but they remain unmistakably human, if perhaps sometimes larger than they used to be.

Another similar story (not exactly SF) in which humans find something blobby that they only later recognize as having been other humans is The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson (1907) but it takes place on Earth.

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    I think you mean "Green Patches" by Asimov. There's a novel by Lucius Shepard called "Green Eyes"
    – user888379
    Mar 17, 2023 at 15:47
  • @user888379 yeah, sorry. Fixed. I probably remembered the patches replacing the eyes, and got confused.
    – LSerni
    Mar 18, 2023 at 9:47

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