I am looking for a title of a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin. Here is what I remember and it may not be 100% accurate because I read the story in my teens some 20 years ago.

It is about a crew travelling on a spaceship. When they get infected with a parasite, the male crew member is very rational about it and wants to eject / get rid of the alien, but the female crew members go bat shit crazy and confine the male to his quarters, with one of the woman actually karate chopping him into submission. They decide to care for the parasite, spend their precious resources on him and once it incubates, to tow it behind the ship for 18 years.

Later on, I read it was a metaphor for pregnancy written with a wicked sense of humour ;-)

It may have been included in the 'The Compass Rose' story collection. I love the story and I would like to reread it and own a copy. I would be very, extremely grateful for help.


1 Answer 1


It is likely "Intracom" as per the summary found here:

An absurdist script about a starship on a journey. Nobody's quite sure where or why. The crew are all mad, and they become foster parents of an alien...but from where?

Another datapoint, this paper on themes of feminism is Le Guin's work:

To illustrate the changes in Le Guin's opinions and approach to these topics, the short stories used for the analysis will be chosen from the different points of her career, starting from “Intracom” which was first published in 1973, till “Porridge on Islac“, published as a part of the short story collection Changing Planes in the early 2000s.

The first subchapter, focused on the short story “Intracom”. It examines the metaphor of pregnancy and motherhood. The female body is depicted as a spaceship invaded by an alien. While the story is mostly humoristic, it raises the question of man’s right to make decisions over the female body and how these decisions are influenced by the gender of the expected child.

And yes, that short story does appear in the The Compass Rose story collection.

  • You can borrow it from OpenLibrary.org
    – Joe L.
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 9:45
  • Reading it from the OpenLibrary link, it does indeed look like it ought to match. What do you think, @Aleksandra?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 16:18
  • Thank you so very much Joe L. and Sean Duggan ;-) are amazing! I'm really grateful !!!!!!!!!
    – Aleksandra
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 2:49
  • 1
    If you click the green check mark, you can mark it as accepted. It lets other people see there is a solution and helps our metrics.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 3:04
  • "Click the green check mark" could be confusing; it's not green until you've clicked on it.
    – user14111
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 23:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.