Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F106.5+

Available in: The Book Of Philip Jose Farmer

Intercourse between humans and aliens isn’t always the tasteful, soft-lit lovemaking you see on Star Trek and in the studio-owned, unreleased director’s cut of E.T. Sometimes, as in this story, it’s a grotesque biological process involving bizarre skin flaps, pulsing bladders, asexual trenches and a tumescent third leg. Not the Terrestrial slang for ‘penis’, but an actual third leg. Phil Farmer – what a weirdo.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A102

Available in: Fire From The Wine Dark Sea

Man, this is a weird one. It’s about a cult of aliens who ride terrestrial roller-coasters to bring about the arrival of their messiah. That’s right; their messiah demands they ride roller coasters to please Him (Her? It?). I’m an atheist, but if I had to choose a belief system, I’d go for the one where I got to spend every Sunday at an amusement park riding a roller coaster. Their communion wafers are probably funnel cake. And their St. Peter is probably a fortysomething ex-con who’s not supposed to let you in if you don’t meet a minimum height requirement, but usually just says fuck it and looks the other way because he’s making eight bucks an hour. Either way, every earthly religion sucks.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F/G3.5

Available in: The Thirty-First Of February

Things I love: fart jokes, lollipops, the songs of Tom T. Hall, and stories where historical and/or cultural phenomena are explained as being the result of alien intervention. In this tale, God is an alien scientist who was exiled to Earth by His alien superiors because He created a disobedient race of creatures called ‘humans’. Take it away, Tom T. Hall: ‘I love candy on a stick/fart jokes that are sick/songs by Tom T. Hall/and scifi stories where historical and cultural phenomena are explained as being the result of alien intervention.’ Okay, the lyrics need some polishing, but cut Tom T. Hall some slack; he’s 75, for Christ’s sake.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G106.5

Available in: Faces At The Bottom Of The Well

Aliens land in America with a deal: they’ll give Americans enough gold to wipe out the national debt and extraterrestrial technology that will reverse pollution. In return, they want all the black people (and they’ll be checking, so don’t try to slip any Mexicans in there at the bottom of the pile!) Someone get me a Cosby sweater, because this is a chilling commentary on race in America.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: B/A1

Available in: The Third Galaxy Reader


A highly intelligent alien is captured (couldn’t be that intelligent, if they caught him), tortured, brainwashed, and imprisoned on Earth where his superior mind is used to judge a cake-baking contest. Insidious, to be sure. If, however, such initial brutality could guarantee the moistness of all future Earth desserts, I believe we’d have no choice but to support it.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: O1

Available in: Creatures From Beyond

A young couple discovers that common housecats are actually an intelligent alien species from space. They’re here, no doubt, to plunder our lasagna reserves and enslave humankind in the litter mines of Katssell. And dogs are all, like, “Dude, we told you. Didn’t we tell you?”

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F102.5

Available in: The Book Of Gordon Dickson

When aliens land, it ain’t homo sapiens they want to talk to. It’s those fun, fin-tastic chickens of the sea, the dolphins. Humanity cock-blocked by dolphins! I can’t say I’m surprised, though. The dolphins are intelligent, empathetic, and have a real shot at the playoffs now that Matt Moore has recovered from last season’s injury. Humans are kinda shit. We’re dumb, selfish, and any attempt to jury-rig a blowhole in the back of our skulls with a Makita cordless drill and a hand mirror results in yet another visit to the E.R.