I think it was in a Gollancz SF anthology, probably early to mid 70s.

It may have been the anthology that also contained a story by Joanna Russ in which there was a house that featured 'Davy', a kind of automated sex slave.

I have been trying to track down this particular Gollancz SF anthology (one of the old yellow and black ones) for years!

  • "Seeking SF short story in which two people swallowed by ectoplasmic blob then start to individuate" Huh? I think they were *"distinguish(ed) from others of the same kind; single(d) out." when they were swallowed. How exactly did they 'individuate' after that? The amount of detail in the question (or really the title, since the question only contains information on one possible time it was published) is probably too little to determine the story. As an aside, I do recall a story in which a character is sent to a planet to investigate a new cult, to discover it is controlled by a.. Oct 18, 2013 at 5:23
  • 1
    .. slug/blob like being that when touched, makes everybody 'one' so they never want to leave (sounds like a horror movie plot to me, but 'people are different'). The hero, who I think was seeking one particular woman he knew, found she had also joined it, and did so himself. He only extracts himself from its grip with the greatest difficulty, thereby 'individuating' himself from the 'community' it was forming. I forget what happened to his friend, though I have vague memories that she stayed. Oct 18, 2013 at 5:27
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    Does "ectoplasm" here mean "the outer relatively rigid granule-free layer of the cytoplasm" or "a substance held to produce spirit materialization and telekinesis? Or maybe something else? Is the story set on earth or another planet? Did the blob swallow anyone else besides the two people who individuated? In what way did they individuate?
    – user14111
    Oct 18, 2013 at 5:44
  • I remember the story, though sadly not the title. It's on a planet where there is an amoeboid life form that absorbs and digests any animals that stumble into it. Four explorers from Earth, one by one, stumble into the blob and it absorbs them but leave their brains untouched and they remain conscious as four disembodied brains floating within the blob. There is some form of conflict between the four people and they try to move in different directions and eventually tear the blob in half forming two blobs each with two brains. I will go ransack my library for clues! Oct 18, 2013 at 10:19
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/260769/… (which is newer and has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Feb 26, 2022 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


The story is Four in One by Damon Knight.

It was included in this Gollancz anthology, but this only contains stories by Damon Knight so it doesn't have any stories by Joanna Russ. I think it's a really good story and classic SF of the period. I heartily recommend forum members seek it out.

I think your Joanna Russ reference is a red herring, because I think it comes from her novel The Female Man. In chapter 9 of that book there is:

One approaches the house from the side, where it looks almost flat on its central column— only a little convex, really—it doesn't squat down for you on chicken legs like Baba Yaga's hut, but lets down from above a great, coiling, metal-mesh road like a tongue (or so it seems; in reality it's only a winding staircase). Inside you find yourself a corridor away from the main room; no use wasting heat.

Davy was there. The most beautiful man in the world. Our approach had given him time to make drinks for us—which the J's took from his tray, staring at him but he wasn't embarrassed—curled up most unwaiterlike at my feet with his hands around his knees and proceeded to laugh at the right places in the conversation (he takes his cues from my face).

So it wouldn't have been in an anthology.


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