I am trying to find a scifi short story I read as a kid, can't remember the name of story/author.

Humanity has contact with these kindly ( dragon headed? ) like aliens who give us space travel and all these other wonderful technologies. At one point some are being held captive by the humans - to extort additional knowledge or something.

It becomes critical for the aliens to escape - and they inexplicably kill one of their own - shortly after they are rescued.

The humans figure out that it was through reincarnation or some kind of rebirth, that the dead one was able to warn the others. There is a verbal confrontation, and one of the human asks:

"Why! Why would you keep this knowledge from us! You've given us so much, why wouldn't you tell us that we don't have just one shot through life? That we are reborn? That we have souls!"

And the Alien replies: "Because you don't".

Someone posted this pic on my FB feed, and it reminded me of that story.

Dream Big!

Some random things I remember that may, or may not, be true:

-maybe Niven or Pournelle -think it was a "hard science" writer -read it in the mid 80s. -Can't remember if it was in collection of short stories, or in OMNI

Any insight appreciated!

  • I edited out the hard-sci-fi tag since souls seem to be more fantasy. Still, it’s a kind of subjective tag, so feel free to put it back in if I overstepped. – Adamant Oct 10 '16 at 20:16
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    The short story is: "The Martyr" by Poul Anderson.. I found another thread on this forum asking about it! – Jibbles The Forgetful Oct 10 '16 at 20:46
  • OK. We should be able to close this as duplicate if the other question has an accepted answer. – Adamant Oct 10 '16 at 20:46
  • The Niven short-story "The Question is Closed" has a few things in common but almost certainly isn't what you are looking for. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Oct 10 '16 at 21:09