I am looking for the author and title of a short story that appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in the late 1980s: likely 1988 or 1989.

The plot is that the main character has a job monitoring for radio transmissions from space in a SETI like program. He is a recovering alcoholic, in a 12-step program, with a number of personal traumas and prefers to work alone on the night shift. He has also become a born-again Christian.

One night a transmission comes in and yes, it's finally proof of an extraterrestrial species but because the religious beliefs of the new church he has been accepted into do not accept life outside Earth, he destroys the information. No one will ever know.

I remember this story so well, but for the life of me have forgotten the writer and title.

  • 1
    Would you recognize the title if you saw it again? If so, this list links to a list of each issue's contents: isfdb.org/cgi-bin/seriesgrid.cgi?20321.
    – sjl
    Feb 17, 2013 at 8:22
  • Thank you so much for the guide to issue contents! I had been looking all over for something like this, and it did the trick. I believe the story is "Last Contact" by Jack McDevitt, in the June 1988 issue of IASFM. Thank you so much for your help! Brian Feb 19, 2013 at 17:52
  • 1
    Then you should post that as the answer. It is completely OK to answer your own question.
    – sjl
    Feb 19, 2013 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


Per Brian's own answer, the story is "Last Contact" by Jack McDevitt, originally published in the June 1998 edition of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

The story is presented as a whodunnit-type story with the reader attempting to guess the main character's motivation;

"Jack McDevitt loves a good mystery. And he enjoys baffling his readers with enigmas like why, after so many years of listening with no results, would a SETI director hear an artificial signal and keep it quiet?"

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1988

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