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I remember a short story about someone with an alien pen-pal; over the years he goes through ups and downs and shares with his pen-pal who is supportive always. Eventually he gets to see a picture of her, and learns that she is a very icky stinky non-human alien. He writes to her and tells her he's seen her picture, and thinks she is 'most beautiful'.

I'd like to get this for my daughter - anyone know what it might be? I read it in a short story collection, possibly from a sci-fi magazine. It's maybe 1950's or 1960's vintage?

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That's "P.S" by Eric Frank Russell. The link goes to ISFDB's bibliography of where it has been published.

A summary, and a link to a legal copy of the contents of the magazine it was published in are available here.

Dr Malcolm Harrison, now 77, had made a pen-pal 65 years ago with Gaily (aka Vandashanda), a "girl" who's a native of the far away world Reba. They've been good friends ever since, & still exchange letters.

One fine day, Doc accidentally stumbles into Jim Corlett, a much younger acquaintance in Space Service who'd recently returned from 17 years in space. Among the gossip exchanged is Jim's 2 days stop at Reba, & his repulsive reaction to its intelligent smelly native fungi! He even has brought back a picture of 6 natives - among them one Vandashanda!

How should the Doc be affected by the revelation that his long time friend "Gaily" is not a woman but smelly fungus?

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