I am trying to find an old science fiction short story that my brothers and I recall from about fifty years ago. We read it in some science fiction anthology while driving around the U.S. as vagabonds in the mid sixties. The story described a civilization of energy beings that would periodically need to exterminate the humans that riddled their community like rats. One of the humans finally figures out how to control the energy, and I think the story ends as he floats away on river of energy formed by mentally holding one glowing ring inside another. The beautiful imagery conjured by that story has stuck with me for half a century, and I would love to find it again. Does anyone remember it?

1 Answer 1


Here is the ending of Daniel F. Galouye's novella "The City of Force":

He sent his two force rings drifting ahead and positioned the smaller within the larger. As the cataract of raw red energy poured forth, he changed it into pink radiance. Then he sent the rings floating toward the forest, letting them lay down a narrow carpet of pastel stardust.

The bulky proportions of a river barge took shape before them, centered on the glistening strip, and several courtly hands stretched out to help him and the girl aboard.

Smoothly, the craft moved off, maintaining a distance of several feet behind the radiant waterfall that provided the substance for the form.

As they drifted along, the river of light dissipated into nothingness behind them, leaving once again only the bare plain.

And, in their wake, scores of hands reared above the surface of the pseudo-stream to wave farewell.

The novella "The City of Force" appeared in the April 1959 Galaxy Magazine (available at the Internet Archive) and was reprinted in the anthology Bodyguard and Four Other Short Novels from Galaxy edited by H. L. Gold. Galouye later wrote a prequel to "The City of Force" in the form of a novel called Lords of the Psychon.

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