It's a short story. To the best of my knowledge, it's a very short story.

An alien ship accepts a human crewmember. The alien captain complains about how the human is unhygienic, spreading a cloud of flaking skin and shedding hair making for unsanitary conditions.

Something bad happens, turns out the human saves the day and earns the captain's respect who realizes the perceived hygiene problem is a small price to pay for the human's ingenuity/valor.

  • Can you tell us anything else about it? How old is the story, how long ago you read it, was it in a hardcover or paperback anthology, or a magazine, or online? Is the human crewmember male or female? Hired as a pilot, navigator, engineer, cook? What sort of bad thing happens: mechanical problems, bad weather, encounter with space pirates?
    – user14111
    Apr 29, 2018 at 3:22
  • It's definitely a recent story. Written within the last 2 years. I think it might've been in Asimov's. I thought it was at Nature Futures but I browsed most of the stories and didn't find it.
    – heptapod
    Apr 29, 2018 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


Could this be the Chanur series by C. J. Cherryh? The story takes place from the point of view of the alien captain who takes on a lone human refugee. Humans are new to that area of space, so the lack of common language and shared knowledge do lead to some difficulties, that I can recall.

  • Any issues with shedding skin and hair?
    – user14111
    Apr 29, 2018 at 3:37
  • @user14111 I want to say there is something to that degree, but skimming through the first book I'm not immediately finding any examples.
    – Xantec
    Apr 29, 2018 at 5:00
  • I don't believe so but I will take a look. I think it was recently written, last two years, but maybe I only read it in the last two years? IIRC this was a really short story. Fewer than 1000 words. Thank you, I will take a peek.
    – heptapod
    Apr 29, 2018 at 13:01
  • 2
    Almost certainly not Chanur books as the hani shed fur like crazy, particularly after stressful jumps.
    – mkennedy
    Apr 29, 2018 at 19:12
  • There are some issues with the human Tully, but nothing regarding skin flakes and hair. Not from the leonine hani for sure. Looks like the ship captain was from a reptilian race, or something to that effect.
    – LSerni
    Apr 30, 2018 at 20:32

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