Aliens Among Us edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
This is another of the themed SF anthologies compiled by Dann and Dozois in recent years. As with the others, unless you have been an avid SF short story readaholic for the last four of five decades, you will certainly find a large number of new and interesting stories here.

The book opens with a powerful and timeless story "The Other Celia" by SF master Theodore Sturgeon, in which the occupier of a cheap hotel room discovers that the resident in the room below his is in fact an alien. That of course sets the scene for the rest of the book in which the world seems to be overwhelmed by non humans disguised as people.

While it is not great, that is a good story and the collection includes a number of similarly enjoyable tales. Ray Nelson's "Eight o'clock in the morning tells of a lizard like race that has come to dominate and eat humans through the power of hypnosis. I also enjoyed the stories from Philip K.Dick, Robert Reed, Michael Shea and Avram Davidson as well as the collaboration between Paul J.McAuley and Kim Newman.

All in all, there are nine very readable stories in here and they are easily worth the price of the book. What is a little frustrating is that there are also six stories which are not really up to scratch. I'd have enjoyed this collection rather more if it had not included stories such as R.A.Lafferty's "Among the Hairy Earthmen" which is little more than an undeveloped idea and a number of dates from a history book.

I'd have rated this book higher if the editors had left out the padding and higher still if they had filled out their allocation of pages with material as good as the books highlights.

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rating
Six out of ten.
Too much filler
Detailed contents.
Sturgeon, Theodore: "The Other Celia"
A superb story in which the narrator, a perpetual but largely harmless snoop, discovers that one of his neighbours possesses a spare skin and she changes it each night. Just to see, he steals the spare but without her second skin, she cannot survive and it is too late for him to return it to her. 8/10

McAuley, Paul J. & Newman, Kim: "Residuals"
A alternate history tale set in the recent past in which three men discover, and destroy an alien mission to earth. The tale follows their subsequent lives. One man is driven to reconstruct a replica of the alien device in order to try to bring them back. 7/10

Nelson, Ray: "Eight o'clock in the Morning"
One man discovers that mankind is being ruled, controlled and eaten by aliens who have hypnotised the whole world in order to carry out their domination. As soon as he can see the lizard-like "Fascinators" he sets off a chain of events that brings about their overthrow. 8/10

Dick, Philip K. "Expendable"
One man discovers that insects are not really what they seem. They are very smart and they do not want to be discovered as such. When he discovers the truth, the insects decide that they must kill him. The spiders, who are just as clever as the ants, are on man's side and want to help. 7/10

Silverberg, Robert: "The Reality Trip"
An alien, on a spying mission to Earth falls into a relationship with a woman. OK but not special. 6/10

Reed, Robert: "Decency"
An alien explorer crashes on Earth and is very badly hurt. Doctors try to help but they cannot patch him up again and they can do nothing to ease his suffering. One soldier takes it upon himself to kill the visitor in order to stop the suffering. When the aliens return in force, they want to meet him and treat him as a hero for his mercy killing. 7/10

Kornbluth, C.M.: "The Mindworm"
A type of vampire, on the loose in the US is identified and killed by émigré East Europeans from Transylvania. 3/10

Fintushel, Eliot: "Popeye and Pops Watch the Evening World Report"
A man discovers that two vagrants, living in a nearby shack, are in fact aliens far from home who want his help to effect their return. 6/10

Shea, Michael: "The Autopsy"
A pathologist is called to the scene of an explosion in a mine. One of the victims was believed to be a serial killer trying to cover his tracks. The pathologist discovers that in fact the man had been possessed by an alien creature that turned him into a kind of vampire. He is then caught by the creature which sets out to possess his body but the doctor finds a way to thwart its intentions. 6/10

Davidson, Avram: "Or All the Seas with Oysters"
Aliens disguise themselves as safety pins and then grow into coat hangers. One man, working in a bike shop discovers this and is killed by a coat hanger but his business partner manages to breed new stock for the shop from the dead man's prized red racing bike. 7/10

Cadigan, Pat: "Angel"
The narrator befriends an angel who, it turns out, was sent in exile to Earth as a punishment for the rime of being unwilling to mate. The angel and narrator try to flee a woman whom the angel fears and, on the way, they get beaten up and they are finally caught by the woman. It's an interesting idea but the execution of the story was quite poor. 4/10

Lafferty, R.A.: "Among the Hairy Earthmen"
The author takes as premise the possibility that a certain period of human history can best be explained if, over a period of a few hundred years, the main movers and shakers on the planet were actually a bunch of children from an advanced alien species which were amusing themselves by playing war and intrigue on Earth. It is an interesting idea but in effect, all that the author does is to list the suspect events and little more. Because of that, the story is about as interesting as a list of dates in a history book timeline. 2/10

Tiptree, James Jr. "I'm Too Big But I Love to Play"
An alien creature which has the form of an interdimensional energy field, notices the existence of conventional terrestrial life. It tries to come to earth by assuming the form of various individuals. It never quite gets it right and in the en departs. All in all, it is a pretty dull tale. 4/10

Wolfe, Gene: "The Hero as Werwolf"
Mankind advances through genetic engineering into a new and advanced form. A small number of unmodified humans still try to eke out a living on the edge of society. Often by eating the new humans who are the only available source of food. 6/10

Duchamp, L.Timmel: "Motherhood, Etc."
A sexually naive nineteen year old student is seduced by an alien. The alien's DNA acts like a virus which turns the girl into an hermaphrodite who can infect other humans in the same way. 4/10