This was possibly a short scifi story, basically question as above. Looking for story about a human android who wakes up with no memory but with one mission, to kill its human double. If he fails (as others have), another wakes up and takes up the same mission. Target is a corporate power exec. Read around the mid-60's.

  • 1
    Sounds a little bit like (but not quite) Imposter by Philip K Dick (filmed with the same name). Perhaps another PKD story?
    – Fruitbat
    Dec 13, 2013 at 7:17
  • Except for the date, this sounds a little like "Identity Theft" by Robert J. Sawyer, which was first published as a short in 2008, republished as the novel "Red Planet Blues" last year. If you're sure of when you read it then definitely not.
    – Sindi
    Jan 11, 2014 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


This is a long shot, but it could be a garbled recollection of the novelette "Good Night, Mr. James" aka "The Night of the Puudly" by Clifford D. Simak. You can read it at the Internet Archive.

Looking for story about a human android who wakes up with no memory

He has some memory but there are blank spots. For instance, he "knows" that his name is Henderson James. (Actually, he is an android duplicate of Mr. James.)

He became aware from non-remembering.

He came alive from nothing.

[. . .]

His name was Henderson James and he was a human being and he was sitting somewhere on a planet that was called the Earth. He was thirty-six years old and he was, in his way, famous, and comfortably well off. He lived in an old ancestral home on Summit Avenue, which was a respectable address even if it had lost some of its smartness in the last twenty years or so.

[. . .]

His name was Henderson James and if that were true, why was he here? Why should Henderson James be sitting on the slope of an embankment, listening to the wind in the trees and to a sobbing whistle and a barking dog? Something had gone wrong, some incident that, if he could but remember it, might answer all his questions.

There was a job to do.

but with one mission, to kill its human double.

In Simak's story the android duplicate was created for the purpose of killing, not the real Mr. James, but a dangerous alien creature called a puudly:

The puudly had escaped and that was why he was here, hiding on the front lawn of some unsuspecting and sleeping citizen, equipped with a gun and a determination to use it, ready to match his wits and the quickness of brain and muscle against the most bloodthirsty, hate-filled thing yet found in the galaxy.

Any puudly was dangerous. It was not a thing to harbor. In fact, there was a law against harboring not only a puudly, but certain other alien beasties much less lethal than a puudly. There was good reason for such a law, reason which no one, much less himself, would even think to question.

And now the puudly was loose and somewhere in the city.

James grew cold at the thought of it, his brain forming images of the things that might come to pass if he did not hunt down the alien beast and put an end to it.

After disposing of the puudly, the android duplicate finds out that he is a duplicate, and so he sets out to kill and replace the real Mr. James so that he, the duplicate, can live:

He walked to a chair and sank into it, spent with the knowledge of how events had so been ordered that now finally he was safe, safe beyond all question.

Soon he would have to change into other clothes, hide the gun and the clothes that he was wearing. The staff would ask no questions, of course, but it was best to let nothing arouse suspicion in their minds.

If he fails (as others have), another wakes up and takes up the same mission.

No, there is only the one duplicate, and there is no second chance, as the puudly is about to bud:

For the puudly would bud. It was long past its time for the reproductive act and there were bare hours left to find it before it loosed upon the Earth dozens of baby puudlies. They would not remain babies for long. A few hours after budding they would strike out on their own. To find one puudly, lost in the vastness of a sleeping city, seemed bad enough; to track down some dozens of them would be impossible.

So it was tonight or never.

Target is a corporate power exec.

That part doesn't match. In Simak's story, the original target is an alien monster; the second target, the real Mr. James, is not a power exec but a scientist:

Henderson James. Thirty-six. Unmarried. Alien psychologist. An official of this zoo. And an offender against the law for having secured and harbored an alien being that was barred from Earth.

Read around the mid-60's.

Simak's story, first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1951, was reprinted in several anthologies and collections, including All the Traps of Earth and Other Stories (1962), The Time of Infinity (1963), and The Night of the Puudly (1964).

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