Earth is invaded by shape changing real estate agents from a distant star. When they’re not looking like bowling balls they’re spreading money around. Why start a shooting war when all you need is cash? (I like quoting The Rutles). This reads like an allegory on corporate greed.
Science columnist Parker Graves returns home after getting half in the bag with City Editor Gavin Walker. He drops his keys and notices some of the carpet in front of his door has been cut out and replaced with paper. Underneath is a bear trap. It soon changes into a bowling ball and rolls away. Parker is on to the biggest story of his career. Of course no one believe shim. There’s a call from the local lovers lane. Bowling balls have been spotted running around.
The next day Gavin tells him he’s getting calls about a housing shortage. People can’t find anything for sale Some have sold their homes and now can’t find anywhere to live.. Then a press conference is called at the town’s one hundred year old department store. It’s been sold and is closing. no explanation. Parker gets a notice. He has a few months left on his lease and then he’s out.
Parker starts investigating a firm that’s handled all the transactions. He breaks into their office and finds a room filled with clothes for men and women. Then he sees a collection of small but lifelike dolls in a box. Then…bowling balls. Later in a bar a woman sits next to him. She’s a knockout. She’s also one of the dolls in the box. She gives him a card that says “We Deal In Everything.”
Parker finds out about the alien invasion and how they plan to just buy everything and tear it down. Their attitude towards human isn’t hatred. They just don’t care. They’ll take over by causing an economic collapse. He goes to the home of Fletcher Atwood. He’s leading the spending spree. The aliens have an unusual odor and have a thing for perfume.
Parker gets help from his girlfriend Joy. One night Parker’s car blows up. A thief tried to steal it. He didn’t get very far. Parker is followed by a car that’s actually an alien. It’s a near miss. Earlier Parker captured some bowling balls and took them to a biologist friend. Some changed form and escaped down a drain. Later Parker finds out that his friend is dead. Maybe the talking dog that’s outside the White House can help.
This is one of Simak’s best. An alien takeover that doesn’t rely on high tech gadgetry…just greed.