I recall reading in English a short story about the extraction of a German (or Russian) scientist defector from the Iron Curtain in a fiction published in a magazine somewhere in the early 1970s (it was probably Asimov's or F & SF). The narrative took place during the Cold War. A woman assisted an American agent who was in command of the extraction. At the conclusion of the narrative, the scientist—disguised as the woman—crosses Checkpoint Charlie. What really impressed me of the story was that the scientist...

...had the woman's head (or body) transplanted into himself.

1 Answer 1


Almost definitely "A Delicate Operation" (1970) by Robin Scott Wilson, first published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1970 as by Robin Scott.

The story opens with an explanation that a scientist wishes to defect:

It was in early August, 1969, that we first got word of Stegner’s desire to defect. It came from a penetration agent we had targeted against Stegner’s laboratory in Magdeburg. Stegner was unquestionably the most competent neurosurgeon and physiologist behind the Iron Curtain; according to the experts on the Outfit’s BioMedical Staff back in Washington, he and the team of bright young men he had trained were well ahead of anybody in the West in the field of transplants and immune-reaction suppression.

And it ends with the implication that the British woman hired as a courier has become the host of the scientist:

She nuzzled her head on my shoulder, sighed, and pressed against me as if she were desperate for warmth, and I noticed for the first time the fine white scar that circled her head beneath the short, glossy black hair. She spoke very softly, profound relief, incredible passion in her voice: "You are everyt'ing she said you vould be. Mein Gott! but it is vonderful endlich to be frei!"

Her heavy German accent made me feel decidedly queer.

You can read the story at the Internet Archive.

  • 2
    While searching fo try to find this story, I found a scientific paper about possible future human head transplants and some of the practical, psychological and ethical considerations of such a procedure. "We agree that the first attempt should be performed in a young person suffering from a terminal disease which leaves the brain and its functions intact such as progressive muscular dystrophies. The donor would be a young brain-dead patient with healthy organs" The authors seem convinced that this procedure will be practical soon ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6511668 Apr 19 at 4:07
  • That is the story. Thank you so much, DavidW, for your response. We really need you here!
    – Bingo
    Apr 19 at 15:46

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