Everyone! I am looking for a story I read as a child that I have never forgotten. I believe it was in some kind of anthology or magazine, possibly OMNI, because my parents used to subscribe to that magazine back in the '70's and '80's.

The main character is an alien on a planet with a methane atmosphere. Her face has kind of a puggish, bat-like nose, adapted by evolution on that planet. She has leather-like wings, which others in her culture (if they are rich enough) might hang jewels upon. Thereby affecting their functionality with the weight of the gems. She remarks that one of her enemies has done this, and that he has gotten so fat that he cannot fly.

The story is that this native female comes across a sort of robot that is being remote-controlled for the purpose of planetary exploration by a scientist here on Earth. She mistakes the robot for a DEMON and at one point kills an animal for it as a sacrifice and tries to stuff the butchered meat into one of the robot's disc slots!

Gosh, I remember so many details about this terrific story, but I cannot recall the title or the author. Can anyone help me out??

1 Answer 1


That sounds like "Eyes of Amber", by Joan D. Vinge, from the short story collection of the same name. It has the jewelled wings:

His movements were ungraceful; she remembered how the jewels dragged down fragile, translucent wing membranes and slender arms, until flight was impossible. Like every noble, Chwiul was normally surrounded by servants who answered his every whim. Incompetence, feigned or real, was one more trapping of power, one more indulgence that only the rich could afford. She was pleased that the jewels were not of high quality.

As well as the "demon eyes":

She turned the amber lens of the demon's precious eye so that it could see the room, as she had seen it, and then settled its gaze on Chwiul. He drew back slightly, fingering moss.

" 'A demon has a thousand eyes, and a thousand thousand torments for those who offend it.' " She quoted from the Book of Ngoss, whose rituals she had used to bind the demon to her.

The basic storyline is that an unmanned probe from Earth lands on Titan and discovers an alien medieval-level society. The probe has detachable viewer cameras, one of which is picked up by one of the aliens. The watchers on Earth are following this alien's story as she tries to gain back her queendom which was stolen from her. The alien's story has become so popular as a mass-market reality-TV show, it's funding the space program.

"What do you think about T'uupieh's latest victims, then?" Garda flourished the transcript, pulling his thoughts back. "Will she kill her own sister?"

He exhaled slowly around the words "Tune in tomorrow, for our next exciting episode! I think Reed will love it; that's what I think." He pointed at the newspaper lying on the floor beside his chair. "Did you notice we've slipped to page three?" T'uupieh had fed the probe's hopper some artifacts made of metal—a thing she had said was only known to the "Old Ones"; and the scientific speculation about the existence of a former technological culture had boosted interest in the probe to front-page status again. But even news of that discovery couldn't last forever . . . "Gotta keep those ratings up, folks. Keep those grants and donations rolling in."

Interesting side-note: this story was first published in 1977, well before "Meercat Manor" or the reality TV craze.

  • OH MY GODDESS!! You've hit on it in a single stroke!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I am now hitting Ebay to see what I can find... :D Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 13:06
  • 1
    @Heather Wales Thanks! Please remember to mark your question as "Answered".
    – Joe L.
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 13:10

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