All I can really remember is that an alien species has three member "individuals" and that three humans go to their home world posing as figures from the aliens' mythology.

As humans are a complete entity in and of themselves, this race is only considered complete when all three biological pieces are present together and acting in concert. A single biological entity acting on its own is considered aberrant.

marked as duplicate by Otis, Au101, Ward, Valorum story-identification Oct 13 '16 at 17:01

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    Can you clarify this? Do you mean the alien species only has three individuals in their entire race? – ThePopMachine Jan 5 '16 at 17:06
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    Please explain this better -- your downvotes may get reversed. – ThePopMachine Jan 5 '16 at 18:18
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    Does this involve children who are stranded on the world after a warring group of the aliens kills their parents, who were on a research exploration? – FuzzyBoots Jan 5 '16 at 18:40
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    @SeanDuggan: I thought of the Tines in Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep also. IIRC, their units (for lack of a better word) usually had more than 3 "individual" members – GreenMatt Jan 5 '16 at 18:52
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    It's been a while since I read it, but I think Isaac Asimov's "The Gods Themselves" has aliens with three sexes. – blm Jan 5 '16 at 18:56

Perhaps None But Man by Gordon Dickson?

The Moldaug aliens are always part of a 3-alien group. They are humanoid aliens (not gaseous aliens such as in Asimov's The Gods Themselves). The Moldaug's scornful term for human being is "whiteface."

They have laid claim to the Pleiades. The idiot human negotiators try several conciliatory gestures which unfortunately have the opposite meaning to the Moldaug.

Our heroes travel to the Moldaug home world to re-enact a Moldaug legend, trying to explain the human situation in terms the Moldaug can understand (note that in Asimov's The Gods Themselves humans never ever travel to the alien homeworld).

  • The OP has posted a comment stating that Asimov's The Gods Themselves is the one he was looking for. Not having read either The Gods Themselves or None But Man myself, I can't say which one fits the posted description better. – user14111 Feb 23 '16 at 22:32
  • I have read both books. "The Gods Themselves" does not have humans going to the alien home world and posing as figures from the alien's mythology. "None But Man" does. The OP can tell by the alien type: the aliens in "The Gods Themselves" are gaseous, the aliens in "None But Man" are humanoid. – Winchell Chung Feb 23 '16 at 22:41

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