Passengers by Robert Silverberg

A great story from the early 70s that still stands up really well today.

Earth has been infested for three years by creatures known as The Passengers. They exist on a purely mental plane, so no one has ever seen them or knows what they are. They might be aliens or evil spirits; the story would work just as well with these or other plausible explanations.

The Passengers take control of individuals for hours or days at a time and the victim usually has no memory of what his or her body has done during the time it was “ridden” by a Passenger. The male narrator, however, remembers the woman he slept with during his latest three day ride but she does not remember him. They start a non-physical relationship and the woman learns the truth about her own last ride. Then the Passengers intervene again to underline their cruel nature.

A story that I am sure I will remember for a very long time. Silverberg treats heavy themes like free will very lightly with a direct style and short sentences.

The setting is 1987; the narrator works as a Securities Analyst in New York City. Coincidentally, 1987 was the year of a famous stock market crash that seemed apocalyptic at the time, although we have all got used to bigger crashes on a daily basis for the last seven years.

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