Talk of Mandrakes


  • First would-be publication
    • Worlds of If, 1987 (the magazine was canceled)
  • First actual publication
    • Limited-edition chapbook by Sirius Fiction, 2003
  • Reprinted in electronic form
    • Aeon One, Scorpius Digital Publishing, 2004


Xenobiologist Mike Peak comes to visit Dr. Selim, a scientist from a space expedition that brought back a plant-like alien organism. He soon finds out that it is highly adaptive to animal life forms.


  • The Earth dystopia is a major part of the story here. The planet is very cold (Peak wears multiple layers of clothing and still shivers). The air is unbreathable ("My car's got ox"). The government has taken over the countryside and left everyone imprisoned in tightly-guarded cities ("Request egress").
  • The hope Dr. Selim has for changing this world generates some sympathy for his character, who would otherwise be a mad scientist feeding his monster.
  • Mandrakes are plants of the nightshade family. Their roots sometimes have bifurcations that make them look vaguely human. They are used in magic rituals.

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