And thereby makes clear in 4 words what the whole story was about. In a 60's or 70's era anthology I think. I’ve always remembered it as being an example of good or clever writing. I've never read another story with the same effect. If I gave any more clues it would spoil the story. I only read it once yet I can still remember it… but what was the story?

EDIT: The aliens were hiding some important information on the human race and the hero spent the whole story trying to find out what it was.

  • 2
    Lets see - if it gets no answers I guess I'll have to add some spoilers. But I'd like to think that if someone had read it they would remember it as I have.
    – Dave45
    Jan 19, 2015 at 23:43
  • 19
    Intentionally hiding information won't make it easier for people to help you. Spoiler tags will allow you to post that info without ruining the plot. As it stands, I'm on the verge of voting to close for being "unclear".
    – Valorum
    Jan 19, 2015 at 23:44
  • 2
    It's debatable if spoiler tags are really needed for a 50+ year old story.
    – Joe L.
    Jan 20, 2015 at 0:19
  • 8
    Since it seems that OP is being deliberately obscure, I've voted to close. Witholding known information about the story (even with the best of intentions) is not appropriate behaviour.
    – Valorum
    Jan 20, 2015 at 0:43
  • 5
    Who are the ^H^H^H^H^H^H people voting to close the question as "unclear what you're asking"? Question has 14 upvotes, answered within half an hour, answer (accepted) has 22 upvotes, and the question is unclear?? What is unclear about the last 4 words being "'You don't' he said"? That is one of the clearest and most precise story identification questions I've ever seen.
    – user14111
    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


"The Martyr", a novelette by Poul Anderson; first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1960, available at the Internet Archive.

He turned to the watching Cibarrans and shouted, "That's what you've been trying so hard to keep us from finding out, that death isn't the end! But why? You claim to be interested in our happiness. You couldn't have told us anything more wonderful than that we have immortal souls!" The stranger vanished. Elth remained a second more. Narden realized it was a surrender: the answer given now because it would be discovered anyway, unless these humans joined in hiding the fact. When he spoke, it was with surgical compassion. "You don't," he said.

  • 11
    Thats so good, I wish I hadden't spoiled it Jan 20, 2015 at 1:50
  • 2
    M. Night Shyamalan approves of this story.
    – Firebat
    Jan 20, 2015 at 2:01
  • 3
    Now all I need is an explanation. Read the story, but the ending isn't terribly clear.
    – user31178
    Jan 21, 2015 at 2:51
  • @user31178 : (rot13) Vzzbegny fbhyf qb rkvfg. Gur Pvoneenaf unir gurz. Uhznaf qba'g. Jr jbhyq qrfcnve vs jr sbhaq bhg, fb guvf vf jul gur Pvoneenaf gel gb uvqr vg, whfg yvxr cneragf abg gryyvat puvyqera gung Fnagn Pynhf vfa'g erny.
    – vsz
    Oct 29, 2019 at 0:04

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