This is another story I read in a science fiction magazine in the mid-to-late 1980s, probably published that decade.

The premise is silly: Aliens arrive at Earth and disapprove of the way humans interact with their environment. They say something like "Everything has life." and depart. From that moment on, every distinct object is alive, and at least most have intelligence and can talk. (This scene is specifically described, as part of a flashback or exposition.)

The narrator describes what a trial it is to try to get through a day with everything you use having an opinion. One thing that stands out is that he mentions the complaints of his shoes. I think that, in the opening scene of the story, the narrator is standing or walking on the sidewalk, having a discussion or argument with one or both of his shoes.

Update: This is definitely not "The One-Shoe Blues" by Ron Wolfe; thanks to Richard for checking that possibility. Based on what I've been able to dig up online, it also doesn't seem to be either "When the Earth Lived" by Henry Kuttner or "I See a Man Sitting on a Chair, and the Chair is Biting His Leg" by Robert Scheckley and Harlan Ellison (though both suggestions are appreciated).

  • It sounds similar to Phillip K. Dock's The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford, but that was published in 1954. – Joe L. Mar 11 '15 at 15:47
  • @Joe L. - Interesting, but I don't think that's it. In this story, it's everything that comes to life, not just shoes. – Otis Mar 11 '15 at 19:20
  • Reminds me of Henry Kuttner's 1937 yarn "When the Earth Lived", illustrated on the cover of this 1948 reprint, but of course that's not it. – user14111 Mar 11 '15 at 19:32
  • "He went to see a priest. The priest told him... he said it was alright and all that, when shoes are happy that they'd get into heaven. You see, it turns out shoes have soles." – Valorum Apr 23 '16 at 14:59
  • This isn't "The One-Shoe Blues". That story is about a man speculating why there are so many single shoes found by the highway. He comes up with the hypothesis that there are one-legged aliens killing (and eating) hitchhikers and stealing their clothes, then chucking the unneeded shoe out of the window. – Valorum Apr 23 '16 at 15:38

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