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This story begins with a boy and his sister living with their parents in the home of their owner/protector, a large insectoid alien. There is a commotion outside the door, which turns out to be a human male in excruciating pain. As it turns out, the aliens have brought some humans from Earth to their own planet.

I don't remember if the humans were the only survivors of a destroyed Earth, or if Earth was still there but oblivious to what the aliens had done. That doesn't matter, anyway, because the humans are there for the purpose of using their bodies as living hosts for the aliens' eggs.

The man's owner (not the kids' owner) has neglected her charge's progression, and now the eggs have hatched and are devouring him from within. The kids' owner removes the hatchlings and saves the man's life (but probably not mental health).

As a result, the alien feels it necessary to sit the boy down and explain the Birds and Bees to him. She delivers a rather mealymouthed lecture about how she would never neglect them like that, the task at hand is an honor and slaveryaintsobad yaddayaddayadda....

But it's now time for the alien to lay its own eggs, and has been considering the boy's sister for the job of host. Upon hearing this, the boy volunteers to be the host, in order to spare his sister. There's a terrifying final scene as the alien lays its eggs.


I have at least two anthologies that contain this story. I just can't find either one, or remember the title or (IIRC well-known American) author.

This is a story that I could have sworn appeared in one of the legendary New Wave Dangerous Visions anthologies. Much later (late 2000s), I immediately recognized it in a later (single author) anthology.

I proposed it as an answer to this other question a while back, and would have submitted an answer if only I could have remembered the title, or pulled the right book out of a box. And it's been bugging me ever since.

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  • I have removed the spoiler tags. It really does not make in a question to hide the things that would allow us to identify the story. Jun 20, 2020 at 17:30
  • I think spoiler tags are fine for twists and endings, but they shouldn't be most of the description. We discussed it at scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10797/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 20, 2020 at 18:03

1 Answer 1

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That sounds like Octavia Butler's ""Bloodchild".

"Bloodchild" describes the unusual bond between a race of insect-like lifeforms called the Tlic and a colony of humans who have escaped Earth and settled on the Tlic planet. When the Tlic realize that humans make excellent hosts for Tlic eggs, they establish the Preserve to protect the humans, and in return require that every family choose a child for implantation.

source

However Butler is not exactly new wave, and the story is from 1984, so it cannot possibly have appeared in Dangerous Visions. It is however considered a classic.

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  • That's definitely it. Once I knew where to look, I found it in the VanderMeers' anthology The Big Book of Science Fiction. I got many details wrong, so maybe the spoiler tags weren't nevessary after all.
    – Spencer
    Jun 20, 2020 at 19:27

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