I'm looking for a short story that's similar to "Story of Your Life", I read the story through lightspeed magazine, but can't seem to find on their site. I also think it was a lightspeed magazine podcast too.

The overall plot is very similar to "Story of Your Life" with the first contact made with an alien species and a female linguist is brought in to help facilitate communication. The main differences are that the linguist already has a daughter at the start of the story, who over the course of the story she grows to resent the aliens, additionally, the aliens are described as stick-like and are attacked by humans at the end of the story.

That's all I remember about the story, I hope someone can help with this!

  • 1
    Do you remember when you read it? Was it written around the same time as Story of your Life? (For all those unaware that's the source short story for the film Arrival) – Edlothiad Nov 4 '17 at 8:29

Possibly "Those Brighter Stars" by Mercurio D. Rivera

The main character is a woman with a daughter:

I found out about the starships on a snowy Thanksgiving afternoon five years ago, a week before the rest of the world.

Katie had just turned twelve—yes, you have a granddaughter—and we’d been folding orange napkins while Dad shouted instructions from the kitchen. This was Katie’s first time helping her grandfather prepare the meal, so she was especially stoked.

who is brought in to facilitate communication with aliens they believe are due to arrive, although she's more of an empath than a linguist:

“We need to coordinate our response to the transmission, prepare a press release. And our research with you becomes even more important now.”

Does it? I thought. I couldn’t see the connection.

Then it hit me: Archie wanted me to try to read the goddamned aliens. “Okay, I’ll be in first thing in the morning.”


I suppose I could have told Archie we had years to figure this all out, that it was Thanksgiving and I needed to spend it with my family. But I was overwhelmed by the news, and flattered that Archie thought I could make some contribution. In three years the aliens in the needle-shaped ship—aliens!—would arrive and transform our world in ways we couldn’t even imagine. (It took us all of about three seconds, by the way, before we’d nicknamed them “Needlers.”)

I don’t remember how Dad reacted to the news. Everything after that single phone call blurs now into a jumble of fragmented memories. I remember Katie storming into her bedroom and slamming the door. I remember packing my bag. Saying goodbye. I must have said goodbye, right?

I just know I never got to try Katie’s gravy.

Stick-like aliens, attacked by humans on arrival:

Two stick-shaped creatures stood on the grass. It took a few seconds for my eyes to make sense of the images. The aliens had no heads or eyes, no mouths; they looked like tall silver spikes with colorful indentations that resembled hieroglyphics circling their midsections. Dozens of delicate, spindly “arms” and “legs” of varying lengths spidered out of their torsos as they moved.

That’s when one of the officers guarding the cordoned-off park jumped a barricade on the other side of the field and stood in the Needlers’ path.

“What the hell?” I yelled.

The officer removed his helmet, revealing a bald track down the center of his head.

The other officers on the perimeter raised their guns. “Someone stop him!” a voice from the sidelines screamed.

“No!” I shouted. “The Needlers are in the line of fire.”

And the main character ends up resenting them:

So here’s what I think—and it’s the way most people feel these days. The Needlers left because they finally figured out we weren’t worth their time. And they won’t be coming back. But that’s okay. We’ve been doing just fine without them. No, we won’t be seeing the Needlers again. And who the hell needs them?

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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