SF book or story about a colony in someone’s head
May 23, 2023 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Please help my dad remember a novel or story, probably by A. E. van Vogt, in which a ship flies into a person’s ear.

This is a story or book about a ship flying into the head or brain of a larger person and establishing a colony there, a la the “Parasites Lost” episode of Futurama. He can’t remember if the story is narrated by the people colonizing a larger person’s head, or by the person whose head is being colonized, but remembers that you only gradually catch on to what’s happening. He is reasonably sure it’s by A. E. van Vogt, a writer he remembers nothing else about but whose name popped into his head in connection with this story. Thanks for any help you can offer!
posted by babelfish to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You probably weren't aware of this, but Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features a sort of tiny universal translator creature that people stick in their ears in order to understand alien beings. Can't quite recall what the name of those things is, tho. Probably not related to your dad.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 8:54 PM on May 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I did consider offering up the story of the Vl’hurg and G’gugvuntt ships that were swallowed by a small dog but I was reasonably sure that wasn’t it.
posted by babelfish at 9:09 PM on May 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

You (and your dad) probably know about the one book/movie I happen to know about that is somewhat similar: Fantastic Voyage (book, movie), in which people and a vessel are miniaturized and travel through a person's body on a mission.

The wikipedia page for Fantastic Voyage has a long list of sequel and 'inspired by' works - maybe one of them is the one you are looking for?

The only one on that long list that, to me, sounds even slightly similar to what you describe is the Fantastic Voyage sequel novel/screenplay written by Philip José Farmer, which somehow involves two enemy vessels entering a person's bloodstream and then fighting a mini version of WWWIII in there. However, I'm not sure which of Farmer's works this might be - or whether it was even published.
posted by flug at 10:11 PM on May 23, 2023

Two pages at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that cover topics, and many specific works, that might correspond to this: Great and Small and miniaturization. I didn't see anything there that matched your description, but maybe if you or your dad read through those examples, it will trigger something.
posted by flug at 10:43 PM on May 23, 2023

A similar-sounding story from my youth is 'The Boy, The Dog and The Spaceship' by Nicholas Fisk, in which an alien ship crashes on Earth and the survivor--only one--enters a dog's body via its ear and take control of it. Viewpoints switch between the alien captain and the boy. Short, published 1974.

Fisk was almost certainly borrowing the central tiny-alien idea from John Wyndham's Meteor, but that's quite far removed from your story.
posted by Hogshead at 6:23 AM on May 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

There was also "Chewed Out" in Weird Science #12 where the little rocket ship's found in somebody's mouthful.
posted by Rash at 6:34 AM on May 24, 2023

There are a number of stories on this theme. Basically it's a horror story, being taken over by aliens, but they turn out to be friendly. The closest one I can remember is Inside John Barth, by William S. Stuart. It's on Project Gutenberg.

posted by AugustusCrunch at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2023

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