I read this short story about 15 years ago, in English.

It tells the story of an off-world human colony attacked by a pair of tentacled aliens. These aliens intend to eat all the humans in the colony, but when the shepherd is brought before them he attempts to communicate with them, finally convincing them to leave the humans as cattle, eating human flesh without killing all the humans.

The aliens give him a shepherd's crook that can pacify the humans and an axe (or similar cutting instrument) to harvest the flesh without killing the humans. This goes on for several years.

Finally a human spaceship arrives and kills the aliens. The rescuers see the shepherd's actions as unique, since typically these aliens simply kill and devour all humans in a short time, and here the colony was kept alive (although with missing limbs, etc.) for years. The visiting humans tell the colonists they should be grateful for the shepherd. After the visiting humans leave, the colonists

use the axe to strip the shepherd of all limbs and organs he doesn't need in order to be kept alive, so that he suffers, instead of thanking him.

Sadly searching this description doesn't come up with anything.


1 Answer 1


The story you're looking for is "Kingsmeat" By Orson Scott Card

A human colony world is taken over by an alien breeding couple. Under normal circumstances, the aliens would immediately consume all of the humans. One human (the Shepherd) manages to tame them by feeding them non-essential bits of his fellow colonists. This forestalls the human's doom for several years until they are rescued by offworld astronauts. The astronauts try to convince the people of the planet that the Shepherd is the only reason they survived, but the colonists retaliate by cutting off the Shepherd's limbs.
Plot summary from Project Gutenberg

Originally released as part of Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories in 1980, the short story was re-released as part of the Maps in a Mirror anthology in 1990.

The full text can be read in four parts here: 1 2 3 4

  • The full text is here; e-reading.club/chapter.php/72261/42/…
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:17
  • Cheers @Valorum, I just found it in four parts, will offer both as one is slightly easier to read, do you mind if I add your link in?
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:19
  • Wonderful, exactly what I was looking for! I see no point in delaying the accept.
    – Eli Iser
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:24
  • @EliIser Do you want the name of the anthology?
    – Edlothiad
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:24
  • 3
    @Valorum the full text you linked is missing the last paragraph, which is present in the 4th part Edlothiad linked to.
    – Eli Iser
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:39

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