Think Yourself to Death by Stephen Marlowe

Imagine an interstellar James Bond whose reputation as a master of disguise comes from his ability to inhabit different bodies as required.  That’s Johnny Mayhem, “Man Without a Body”, and the hero of legend in stories by Science Fiction writer Stephen Marlowe (the pen name of Milton Lesser).

Think Yourself to Death” is a Johnny Mayhem story, published in 1957 in Amazing Stories, and is set on the scorching Ophiuchus IX, a colonized planet populated by refugees from India that for a few hundred years had lost contact with the other human colonies before being rediscovered by the Galactic League, a federation of the interstellar colonized planets.  Their isolation has made the native Ophiuchans naive and overly trusting.

Being an “elan”, or a bodiless sentience, Mayhem has the challenge of finding a fresh corpse to reanimate and inhabit every month, or more frequently if possible.  Corpses tend to get a bit ripe after a few weeks, which also tends to blow his cover when he’s on the job.

Mayhem arrives on Ophiuchus IX to take a contract with the Galactic League to infiltrate a cargo operation named Denebian Exports.  The Denebians are up to no good, but the Galactic League do not know what interest the off-worlders have in the desert planet.  It’s Mayhem’s job to find out – in the body of a young woman.

The writing is heavy on dialogue, and some readers find that kind of narrative unappealing, but it does make for a fast read.

If you’re into the classic sci-fi genre, this is an entertaining quickie.

Download the eBook at FeedBooks
Download the etext at Project Gutenberg
Download the audiobook read by Mark Nelson at

5 thoughts on “Think Yourself to Death by Stephen Marlowe

  1. Downloaded and read it this morning.
    Great little story.
    Quote: ” the holy man who sits in contemplation of his navel”
    Now I know what the Dalai Lama does all day.

  2. Corpses tend to get a bit ripe after a few weeks, which also tends to blow his cover when he's on the job.

    Maybe it's wrong but this made me laugh. Downloaded.

  3. I remember reading Milton Lesser. In fact he was one of the first 4 SciFi authors I ever read (the first 4 were Andre Norton, Alan E. Nourse, Sylvia Engdahl, and Milton Lesser). But I did not realize he had an alias pen name. The Lesser book I read was short, quick, rather corny and dated but the images it created have stuck with me for @40 years. In fact I stole one of his alien creatures & put it in my Great American Space fantasy which, BTW, I've been playing with for @40 years 🙂 So I guess this means I have another book to download and another author to check out. Thank you, Dileas. :))

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