Years ago, I remember reading a short story (as I remember it) about a couple whose prized possession is semi-living crystal structure that is sensitive to their relationship; it grows and maintains its beauty as a reflection of how good their relationship is. Because they are so invested in their crystal, they act happy and content while secretly loathing each other... effectively, slaves to the crystal by choice.

I probably have a couple of the details wrong. I believe I read this in the late 90's or early 00's.

I'd really like to track this down. It predates Facebook (or social media in general) but feels like a great metaphor for couples that maintain an outwardly happy face.

  • 6
    A lot of the details are different, but this strongly reminds me of Gemstone by Vernor Vinge. It has a sinister kind of feel to it and a semi-sentient gemstone that is the center of a relationship in it, but the things about them acting content aren't there.
    – Paul
    Jul 29 '15 at 22:45
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    It's been so long, thus this question in the first place. As I remember it, the crystal picked up on subtle physical cues, and the whole point was that the societal-imposed conformity was enough to fake the crystal. Aug 12 '15 at 17:13
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    There's a somewhat similar idea in one of the stories in J.G. Ballards "Vermillion Sands", where the "recordings" of a prior couple who owned a house starts to psychically impinge on the new occupants; forcing them into the same negative roles. But they can't delete the recordings, since much of the value of the house is tied up in them. Aug 12 '15 at 17:15
  • 14
    Come on guys. The erudite and literary Sci-Fi.SE community can figure this one out. Feb 7 '17 at 11:28
  • 7
    Somebody else apparently looking for the same story: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/189991/…
    – user14111
    Jun 23 '18 at 5:05

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