They’re Playing our Song, Harry Harrison

They’re Playing our Song
by Harry Harrison (1965)

The Spiders are a hugely popular rock-and-roll band. They finish a concert before thousands of hysterically frenzied screaming teenagers, then retire to their hotel… where four eager teenage girls with autograph books have bribed the chambermaid to let them in.

TWIST ENDING: “The Spiders” are secretly giant evil spider creatures who seize the terrified girls and jab them full of ovipositors, laying eggs in their carcasses!!!!!!!!!

The most interesting thing about this story is what it must have been like to write it. From today’s vantage point, it’s difficult to imagine how intense it was to live through the early days of Beatlemania. Many of the minor details of this story — from the Spiders’ hairstyles and outfits, to the title and lyrics of their most popular song, to the fact that the three named Spiders are “Bingo”, “Wango”, and “Lingo” — are excruciatingly obvious references to the Beatles, and the satiric elements present in so much of Harrison’s oeuvre are drowned out by what feels like authorial spite and resentment. (Also, I’m going to trust that the word “orgiastic” didn’t connote *quite* so sexually back in the early ’60s, because otherwise Harrison’s use of it to describe tweens becomes even creepier.)