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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Vestan Parasite  
  Semi-intelligent creatures that take control of the nervous system of other animals.  

I don't usually include alien life forms in this index, but I couldn't resist this one.

The little gray creature was no bigger than a man's clenched fists together. It was a gray, wrinkled featureless thing, except for pinpoint eyes and the tiny clawlike legs upon which it scurried. It reached Bray and ran swiftly up his legs and back as he swore startledly.

Kenniston, made reckless of danger by his horror, yelled and lunged toward the pilot. Bray was swearing and trying to slap at the gray thing running up his back. But the little creature had now reached his neck. Clinging there, it swiftly dug two tiny, needle-like antennae into the base of his neck.

"Hold him!" Kenniston shouted hoarsely. "The Vestan has got him!"

Bray had undergone a sudden metamorphosis as the gray creature dug its antennae into his neck. His face stiffened, became mask like...

"The Vestans," Kenniston added dully, "are semi-intelligent parasites. The live by attaching themselves to and taking control of some other creature's body. They do it by jabbing in those tiny, needle-like antennae to contact the victim's nervous system. Thereafter, the Vestan controls the victim's body absolutely. When the victim dies or is hurt, the Vestan simply detaches himself and fastens upon a new victim."

From The World With A Thousand Moons, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1942
Additional resources -

I was surprised to read this idea in a 1942 story; I'm wondering how early this plot device can be found. The more famous example is the parasitic "slugs" from Titan in Robert Heinlein's 1951 novel The Puppet Masters.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The World With A Thousand Moons
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to The World With A Thousand Moons
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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