By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Science Fiction Short Story Review: "There is a Reaper" by Charles V. De Vet

This is another in the series of “It Came from the Pulps!” where I review science fiction short stories that were originally published in the pulp magazines of mid-20th century. Many of these have become available in electronic form as free downloads, particularly from Project Gutenberg, or for a low price.

Three months before the beginning of the story, the unnamed narrator of this story was given a month to live. The seven million dollars in his bank wouldn’t buy him a minute more.

He’s used $60,000 securing a poison he’d read about casually, something only the medicine men of a certain tribe living along the Amazon knew about. It killed, but for a few minutes after death, the medicine men could talk to the dead man. Since he’s about to die, the narrator wants to know what it’s like and figures talking to someone who’s dead is about the best way to get information there it.

So, he picks someone he figures is a nobody, a loser, and administers the poison. He has no pity for him. The man is a jackal in the jungle of life and he is a carnivore. It’s the lot of the jackal to get eaten by a carnivore.

The man immediately knows what happened and calls a murderer. After his body ceases to spasm in agony, the narrator asks him, “Where are you?”

After describing a tunnel, the dead man says, “I am waiting, waiting in the gloom for something which will come to me…”

While the end it not a surprise, this is a suitably atmospheric little story. It is quite short and creepy.

Author Charles V. De Vet wrote about 50 short stories for science fiction magazines. He co-wrote two novel with Katherine MacLean in which an alien civilization revolved around chess.

Title: “There is a Reaper” first published in Imagination Aug. 1953

Author: Charles V. De Vet (1911-1997)



The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction




© 2015 Denise Longrie


An earlier version of this review appeared on another site. It has been removed and is no longer visible. The review has been updated and expanded for its inclusion at PP

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Gossamer wrote on June 7, 2015, 7:30 PM

As always, great reviewing. A lot of the stories you have reviewed, I feel I want to read - more so the SF ones than the horror/ghost ones, but that's just my personal preference in genre.

msiduri wrote on June 7, 2015, 11:51 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you've found my reviews helpful. Not everyone likes everything. I personally don't care for graphic novels, fer instance, though I suppose I could for myself to read a couple of them in my next lifetime.

CalmGemini wrote on June 10, 2015, 8:01 AM

well,I read the story . ''Atmospheric '' is the apt word. You suspend your belief and you have a good story.

msiduri wrote on June 10, 2015, 9:05 AM

Yes, even though some of the elements are clearly silly (the poison from the Amazon River that kills but lets people talk for a little bit), I bought them as a reader. And, as a reader, I despised the main character. I had no sympathy when he gets his comeuppance.