The Wanderer Author:Fritz Leiber There are many stories of unexplained phenomena that begin with a moonlit face at a diamond-paned window, or the baying of a hound in the darkest hours of the night. This one begins with an eclipse of the moon, and a quartet of astronomical photographs showing starfields and a planetary object - runes of purest science, at the opposite extreme ... more »from medieval superstition. And yet the young scientist who first saw the photos could not ignore the twinge of unease they caused him. . . the shivering sense of dread that, for a moment, made him kin to the most primitive caveman cringing in fear of the unknown.
Passing along priority channels, the photographs arrived at the Los Angeles Area Headquarters of the American Moon Project, where even the experts who saw them, accustomed as they were to dealing with the inexplicable, felt the same sense of strangeness and unease.
In the end, that which the photographs heralded would affect every atom of our planet, every human being on Earth, costing thousands of their sanity and millions of their lives...
On the night of the lunar eclipse, Paul Hagbolt, a publicist with Project Moon, was on his way to the Project's Vandenberg Two base when he was persuaded to take a detour. His companion had seen a sign that read, "this way to the Flying Saucer Symposium," and couldn't resist checking it out. So Paul found himself on a beach, surrounded by a diverse group of sky watchers, when the Wanderer first appeared in the heavens.
Four times the diameter of the moon, streaming with its own eerily bloody and golden light, it seemed at first to be an atomic fireball - or the biggest flying saucer even the most ardent buff ever expected to see. The sheer impossibility of its existence, however, was belied by the ensuing massive earthquakes, and the havoc caused by immense tidal surges around the world as the mysterious body systematically disintegrated and digested the moon! How could so vast a planet suddenly appear out of the void? Who or what controlled such awesome power? What possible defense could the people of Earth have against it?
To his astonishment, Paul Hagbolt would be among the first humans to learn the incredible truth.« less