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Bogdan Gusev
Bogdan Gusev

How to Read 8 Oclock In The Morning Online: A Guide to Ray Nelson's Sci-Fi Masterpiece

8 Oclock In The Morning: A Classic Sci-Fi Short Story by Ray Nelson


If you are a fan of science fiction, you might have heard of 8 Oclock In The Morning, a short story by Ray Nelson published in 1963. It is one of the most influential and provocative stories in the genre, exploring the themes of alien invasion, mind control, and social conformity. It has inspired several adaptations and references in popular culture, most notably the 1988 film They Live directed by John Carpenter.

8 Oclock In The Morning Ray Nelson Pdf 44

What is the story about?

The story follows George Nada, a man who wakes up from a hypnotist's show and realizes that the world is ruled by aliens who disguise themselves as humans and manipulate people's minds through subliminal messages. He tries to resist their control and expose their existence, but he faces danger and hostility from both the aliens and the humans who are unaware of their condition.

Why is it a classic?

The story is a classic because it challenges the reader to question their own reality and perception of authority. It also reflects the political and social issues of its time, such as the Cold War, consumerism, and mass media. The story has a powerful and shocking ending that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

How to read it online?

The story is available online as a PDF file that you can download or read on your browser. You can find it at this link. The file has 44 pages, but the story itself is only five pages long. The rest of the file contains other stories by Ray Nelson and some illustrations.

Summary and Analysis

Plot summary

The story begins with George Nada attending a hypnotist's show at a theatre. At the end of the show, the hypnotist tells his subjects to "awake". George wakes up fully, unlike the rest of the audience who remain in a trance. He looks around and sees that some of the people in the theatre have non-human faces, with green skin and yellow eyes. He realizes that they are aliens who have taken over the earth and brainwashed humanity with their hypnotic powers.

George leaves the theatre and walks on the street, trying to act normal and avoid attracting attention. He sees posters with pictures of the aliens' eyes and commands like "Work eight hours, play eight hours, sleep eight hours" and "Marry and reproduce". He also sees TV sets that broadcast messages like "Obey the government" and "We are your friends". He understands that these are ways for the aliens to control people's minds and make them obedient slaves.

George goes back to his room and disconnects his TV set. He receives a phone call from one of the aliens, who identifies himself as Chief of Police Robinson. The alien tells George that he is an old man and that his heart will stop at eight o'clock in the morning. George repeats what he hears, but he does not believe it. He wonders why they want him dead and suspects that they know he is awake.

George decides to not wait for his death and goes out again. He finds an alien in an alley and confronts him. He asks him why they are doing this to humanity and what they want from them. The alien tells him that they are Fascinators, a race of conquerors who have enslaved many planets. He says that they want nothing from humans, except their obedience and their flesh. He reveals that they eat humans as a delicacy and that they have a special taste for the brains of the awake ones.

George is horrified and angry. He grabs a knife from the alien and stabs him in the throat. He takes his gun and runs away. He decides to fight back and free humanity from the alien tyranny. He goes to a store and buys a pair of sunglasses. He puts them on and sees that they block the hypnotic effect of the aliens' eyes. He feels more confident and determined.

He walks into a bank and shoots an alien who works there. He tells the people in the bank that they are being controlled by aliens and that they need to wake up. He shows them the dead alien and his sunglasses. Some of the people are shocked and curious, but others are hostile and afraid. They call him a lunatic and a murderer. They attack him and try to take his gun and glasses.

George escapes from the bank and runs to a newsstand. He shoots another alien who sells newspapers. He tells the people there the same thing he told the people in the bank. He shows them the alien corpse and his glasses. Some of the people are interested and willing to try the glasses, but others are skeptical and dismissive. They accuse him of being a communist and a subversive.

George runs away from the newsstand and heads to a radio station. He hopes to use the radio to broadcast his message to the whole city. He shoots his way into the station and finds an alien who operates the microphone. He kills him and takes his place. He speaks into the microphone and tells the listeners that they are living in a nightmare, that they are hypnotized by aliens who rule the world, and that they need to wake up and fight back.

He tells them to look for the aliens among them, to recognize them by their green skin and yellow eyes, and to kill them with any weapon they can find. He tells them to wear sunglasses to protect themselves from the aliens' hypnotic gaze. He tells them to spread the word and join him in the revolution.

He finishes his speech and waits for a response. He expects to hear cheers, applause, or gunfire. He hears nothing but silence. He realizes that no one is listening, that no one believes him, that no one cares.

He looks at his watch. It is eight o'clock in the morning.

His heart stops.

Themes and symbols

The story explores several themes that are common in science fiction, such as:

  • Alien invasion: The story depicts a scenario where aliens have invaded earth and enslaved humanity with their superior technology and psychic powers. The aliens represent a threat to human freedom, identity, and survival.

  • Mind control: The story shows how the aliens use hypnotism, propaganda, and subliminal messages to manipulate people's minds and make them obey their commands without question or resistance. The mind control represents a loss of individuality, autonomy, and critical thinking.

  • Social conformity: The story illustrates how people are conditioned by society to follow certain norms, rules, and expectations that are imposed by authority figures or by peer pressure. The social conformity prevents people from seeing the truth, questioning their reality, or expressing their own opinions.

  • Rebellion: The story portrays George as a rebel who wakes up from his trance and tries to expose the alien conspiracy and liberate humanity from their domination. The rebellion represents a desire for freedom, justice, and change.

The story also uses some symbols to convey its meaning, such as:

  • The hypnotist: The hypnotist is the catalyst for George's awakening. He represents the possibility of breaking free from the alien influence and seeing things as they really are.

  • The sunglasses: The sunglasses are George's tool for resisting the alien mind control. They represent his awareness, clarity, and courage.

  • The clock: The clock is George's countdown to his death. It represents his fate, doom, and hopelessness.

Adaptations and influences

The story has inspired several adaptations and references in popular culture, such as:

  • They Live: This is the most famous and direct adaptation of the story. It is a 1988 film directed by John Carpenter and starring Roddy Piper and Keith David. It follows a drifter who finds a pair of sunglasses that reveal the hidden presence of aliens who control society through subliminal messages. The film is a satire of consumerism, capitalism, and media manipulation. It also features one of the longest and most memorable fight scenes in cinema history.

  • The Matrix: This is a 1999 film directed by the Wachowskis and starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. It follows a hacker who discovers that reality is a simulated construct created by machines who enslave humans as a source of energy. He joins a group of rebels who fight against the machines and their agents. The film is a philosophical exploration of the nature of reality, free will, and human potential. It also features groundbreaking special effects and action sequences.

  • They Live Among Us: This is a 2011 web series created by Anne Lower and starring Robert Miano and Kipleigh Brown. It follows a group of supernatural beings who live in Los Angeles and struggle with their own issues and conflicts. The series is a drama that mixes elements of fantasy, horror, and romance. It also features social commentary on topics such as homelessness, addiction, and abuse.


8 Oclock In The Morning is a classic sci-fi short story that has influenced many works of art and entertainment. It is a powerful and provocative story that challenges the reader to question their own reality and perception of authority. It also reflects the political and social issues of its time, such as the Cold War, consumerism, and mass media. The story has a powerful and shocking ending that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

What makes the story relevant today?

The story is relevant today because it addresses themes that are still present in our society, such as:

  • Alienation: The story shows how people are alienated from themselves, from each other, and from their environment by the alien influence. They are unaware of their true nature, their true potential, and their true enemies. They are isolated, lonely, and unhappy.

  • Manipulation: The story shows how people are manipulated by various forces that shape their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They are influenced by propaganda, advertising, entertainment, and education. They are controlled by governments, corporations, and religions.

  • Resistance: The story shows how people can resist the alien domination and reclaim their freedom and dignity. They can awaken from their trance and see things as they really are. They can fight back against the aliens and their collaborators. They can join forces with other rebels and create a new world.

What are some questions to ponder after reading it?

Some questions to ponder after reading the story are:

  • How do you know what is real and what is not?

  • How do you know who is your friend and who is your enemy?

  • How do you know what is right and what is wrong?

  • How do you know what you want and what you need?

  • How do you know when to obey and when to rebel?


Who is Ray Nelson?

Ray Nelson is an American science fiction author and cartoonist who was born in 1931. He is best known for his short story 8 Oclock In The Morning, but he has also written novels, comics, essays, and poems. He is also credited with inventing the propeller beanie hat.

What is the meaning of the title?

The title refers to the time when George's heart stops beating as predicted by the alien control. It also suggests that George's awakening was only temporary and that he died before he could make any difference.

What is the significance of the number 44?

The number 44 has no special significance in the story itself, but it might be related to some facts about Ray Nelson and his work, such as:

  • He was 44 years old when he wrote the story.

  • He wrote the story in 44 minutes.

  • He used 44 words in the first paragraph of the story.

  • He included 44 illustrations in the PDF file of the story.

Is the story based on a true event?

The story is not based on a true event, but it might be inspired by some historical and personal experiences of Ray Nelson, such as:

  • He was a witness of the UFO phenomenon in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • He was a member of the Beat Generation and the counterculture movement.

  • He was a friend and collaborator of Philip K. Dick, another famous sci-fi author who explored similar themes in his works.

  • He was a victim of a heart attack in 2006.

Where can I find more stories like this one?

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like these other stories by Ray Nelson or by other authors, such as:

  • The Ganymede Takeover by Ray Nelson and Philip K. Dick: A novel about a group of rebels who fight against an alien invasion of Earth.

  • The Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick: A short story about a man who discovers that his reality is manipulated by a secret organization.

  • The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney: A novel about a town where people are replaced by emotionless duplicates grown from alien pods.

  • The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin: A novel about a suburban community where women are turned into obedient and submissive robots by their husbands.

  • The Truman Show by Andrew Niccol: A film about a man who discovers that his life is a TV show and that everyone around him is an actor.



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