SHORT STORY REVIEW – THEODORE STURGEON – KILLDOZER 1944 in SPECTRUM 3 Pan Books
Excellent short story about a killer bulldozer on a small Pacific Island, written by an author who went on to write for Star Trek.
The alien entity that comes to possess the dozer, known to its crew as Daisy Etta, is an ancient one from a civilization that had sophisticated machines, but which was wiped out on Earth in the pre-Christian era.
Sent to build an airfield on the island for the allied war effort, an eight-man team find themselves hunted down and decimated by their own bulldozer after the alien being it releases among temple ruins affects it. The bulldozer runs on despite taking much damage, running out of fuel, and seems to affect some repairs on it. The story undoubtedly influenced Stephen King’s killer car novel, Christine.
With early deaths blamed on one man, the only one suspecting the truth, all but three of the crew are killed. One goes insane and tries to co-operate with the machine as the other two fight back, eventually defeating it with seawater and electrical voltage.
The survivors struggle to work out how to explain the deaths of their friends and why their work is so incomplete, when bombs fall on the island, conveniently giving them an explanation to save themselves from murder charges. The one crazy man insists on telling the truth, which the others allow, knowing no one will believe him.
The novella works well for the attention to detail and mechanics. It is more a work of horror than true science fiction, though the possession is also well explained. There is lots of violence too, with men being burned, and crushed by the rampaging mechanized monster.
The story was turned into a well-received TV Movie in 1974.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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