I have a science fiction story stuck in my head.
December 11, 2008 4:41 PM Subscribe
Help me identify the name of this science fiction short story or novel about a human child of an interplanetary diplomat.
posted by shadytrees to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is the science fiction plot: The protagonist of the story is a human child, possibly a teenager. He or she is the child of a diplomat. As the story progresses, you realize that the diplomat parent is an interplanetary diplomat, going to various planets and meeting various aliens to do various diplomat-y things. The child is supposed to meet a group of aliens. He is given, by his diplomat parent, a list of customs and etiquette quirks on this planet. This is akin to the "Don't leave your chopsticks stuck in the rice" sort of thing. One of the items on the list is to never compliment a material possessions; if you do, the alien owner must immediately give that possession to you out of strictly bound courtesy.
The child never reads it. Come arrival time, the child meets the alien guests. One alien guest pulls out a gadget, and it is passed around the room. When it comes to the child, he or she realizes that the gadget creates something like a hologram image of a deceased loved one. For the child, he sees his dead parent (his mother?). In his surprise and awe, he whispers that the gadget is beautiful. A flash of pain flashes over the alien guest's face, and he stiffly tells the child to take it as a gift. The child tries to refuse, but it's too late.
And then the rest of the story continues. What is the frigging title? It's one thing to have a song stuck in your head; it's another thing entirely to have an entire section of a short story.