Who - or what - was this strange invader from the skies . . .
The glowing ovoid plummeted downward, the whole sky screaming like a metallic banshee as the air boiled away from its sides.
A supersonic bang broke over the forest, but the thing was already gliding down to Earth. As the ovoid settled in among the trees, the entire forest burst into flames.
A thin black line appeared and etched a perfect circle on the side of the metal egg, then thickened into a door. The air was rent by a searing hiss. Slowly, the strange being - soon to be known to all mankind as VOR - began to emerge . . .
James Blish (1921-75) studied microbiology at Rutgers and then served as a medical laboratory technician in the US army during the Second World War. Among his best known books are Cities in Flight, A Case of Conscience, for which he won the Hugo in 1959 for Best Novel, Doctor Mirabilis, Black Easter and The Day After Judgement.