Kin by Bruce McAllister

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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 Sorry, this link is no longer valid, but… you can find an archived copy of this story at the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine.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 web site.

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6 thoughts to “Kin by Bruce McAllister”

  1. I thought it was well-written but had a hidden anti-abortion which serves no place in modern science fiction. This story will forever make McAllister the “pro-life pundit.”

  2. scatterbrain,

    That is an interesting viewpoint, and one that I never would have guessed at myself. I took at look at some other peoples’ comments about this story (on other web sites) and I see that there are plenty of people who would agree with you.

    For me, however, I did not see it as an overt (or covert) attempt at a “pro-life” story. I just thought it was a cool science fiction story.

  3. He’s actually pretty liberal, I am 100% sure he is pro-choice IRL, as I know the man personally.

    Go easy on the knee-jerk reaction. There are other motivations here.

  4. Excellent Nathan!

    I’m glad to see that this great short story is back online. Thanks for making us aware of it.

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