A researcher trying to understand the psychology of lower animals discovers that a friend is continually pestered by flies because they worship him as their god.
This story doesn’t work for me. As with “The Dying Night,” we see old school chums coming together for a reunion, but here it is questions which have not been openly answered which are the source of conflict. The characters are weak: Kendell Casey, the man worshipped by the flies, is well-drawn as a bitter chemist trying desperately to free himself from his curse, but the other two, John Polen (the psychologist) and the Reverend Winthrop are weak. Moreover, one cannot imagine how the three became friends in the first place.
One reason why the story doesn’t work is that we don’t get much of a sense of the flies’ perspective. Why are they worshiping Casey? Why is he cursed with them? The whole point of the story is to build to the horrifying climax to find out that Casey is “the lord of the flies,” but that revelation seems somehow silly in the end, and the structure which builds to that climax otherwise unsatisfactory.
|Nightfall and Other Stories|
|The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov|
|Complete Stories, The, Vol. 1|