Birthday Reviews: Daniel F. Galouye’s “Sitting Duck”

Birthday Reviews: Daniel F. Galouye’s “Sitting Duck”

Cover by John Pederson, Jr.
Cover by John Pederson, Jr.

Daniel F. Galouye was born on February 11, 1920 and died on September 7, 1976. His debut novel Dark Universe was nominated for the Hugo Award in 1962. In 2007, Galouye was recognized with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.

Galouye’s stories have been collected in The Last Leap and Other Stories of the Super-Mind and Project Barrier. At least five collections of his works have been published in German translation over the years. Galouye published a total of five novels during his career, and numerous short stories beginning in 1952 and ending in 1970. His novel Simulacron-3 was adapted into the film The Thirteenth Floor in 1999. He also published under the pseudonym Louis G. Daniels.

“Sitting Duck” was published in the July 1959 issue of If, edited by Horace L. Gold. It was reprinted in the 1965 anthology The 6 Fingers of Time and Other Stories and a second time in Things from Outer Space, edited by Hank Davis, in 2016.

Ray Kirkland is a reporter in a world where something strange is happening, although nobody knows what it is. It impacts Kirkland directly when his wife suggests they take a look at a house that has suddenly appeared on a plot of land they were considering buying. Something about the house (4 kitchen, , 1½ bedrooms) seems off to him, but when he tries to investigate his editor suggests it is just a marketing ploy and tries to turn his attention another way.

Coincident to all this, Kirkland’s father-in-law is preparing for duck hunting season by building decoys and setting up duck blinds. The juxtaposition of the two threads allows the reader to see that the strange occurrences Kirkland is investigating are simply decoys created by an alien race.

Despite the mistakes in their presentation, the aliens are surely as proud of their decoys’ perfections as Kirkland’s father-in-law is of his own decoys. Galouye taps into the same anti-communist paranoiac zeitgeist that inspired Jack Finney to write The Body Snatchers a few years earlier.

Reprint reviewed in the anthology Things from Outer Space, edited by Hank Davis, Baen Books, 2016.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a fifteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Big White Men—Attack!” in Little Green Men—Attack! Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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Rich Horton

Galouye is one of my favorite “not quite” writers. (Kind of like J. T. M’Intosh in status, though they were very different writers.) Interesting, always worth a read, but not quite great, and if not forgotten, drifting from the wider memory. (Partly because he died fairly young.)

I like SIMULACRON-3 a lot, and I liked the movie a fair bit as well. (It was also made into a German movie, by the way.)

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