by Bruce McAllister
• Word count: 3978
• Page count: 10
Kin is a science fiction short story by Bruce McAllister that explores the ideas of the extremes a person will go to on an over populated and regulated world and the fact that truly learning about another culture – even if it is an alien one – can prove abundantly worthwhile.
Kin is about a small boy who enlists the “services” of a dreadful Antalou alien, and more especially about how he connects with the alien. An excellent story on many different levels.
Closing his eyes, the boy could see the black synthetic skin the alien wore as protection against alien atmospheres. Under that suit, ropes of muscles and tendons coiled and uncoiled, rippling even when the alien was still. In the doorway the long neck had not been extended, but he knew what it could do. When it telescoped forward—as it could instantly—the head tipped up in reflex and the jaws opened.
Nor had the long talons—which the boy knew sat in the claws and even along the elbows and toes—been unsheathed. But he imagined them sheathing and unsheathing as he explained what he wanted, his eyes on the floor.
Kin first appeared in the February 2006 edition of Asimov’s Science Fiction, and was nominated for the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
You can read Kin online for free at Asimov’s web site. Sorry, this link is no longer valid, but… you can find an archived copy of this story at the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. You can also listen to a free mp3 version of this story at Escape Pod.
If you like this story you can learn a little more about the author, Bruce McAllister at the old scifiction.com web site.