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The story took place on a planet named something like Iatria. The main character is some sort of covert exploration agent from off-planet, trying to observe the locals without being detected as such. He meets a young woman who works in a record shop, who shows him around. Late in the story, they are captured by local officials, and he uses buttons on his clothes to save himself & her. One is apparently a communicator with his ship, and another some sort of compact grenade.

I'm pretty sure it was a short story in an anthology book.

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    Vague feeling I might have read this, but I can't quite place it. Do you have anymore to give? – dmckee Mar 12 '15 at 0:14
  • I think I recall a scene that takes place in a public park, where the couple hide by making out, an activity not at all frowned on there. I probably read it before 1984. Beyond that, I really can't remember much. – Jerry B Mar 12 '15 at 4:16
  • Is the planet very cold? – Otis Mar 12 '15 at 16:50
  • Not that I recall, and that would make making out in the park unlikely. :) – Jerry B Mar 12 '15 at 17:41
  • What I was thinking of: "Poor Planet" by J. T. McIntosh. In that story, the planet's name is Solitaire. The main character is a spy sent to find out why it has remained a poor, low-population and low-tech planet for as long as it has, when by theory it should have prospered. He does have special buttons, one of which communicates with his ship. He meets a girl in a music shop (looking for an old version of an opera), and they are both captured by the local security force - but escape, due to buttons. The planet is cold but the park is in a heated dome, and there is a scene there. Close at all? – Otis May 3 '15 at 2:35
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It seems that you were looking for a blend of two stories in the same collection: "Poor Planet" by J. T. McIntosh and "Shamar's War" by Kris Neville. Both can be found one after another in the collection Seven Trips Through Time and Space, edited by Groff Conklin.

In "Poor Planet," the planet's name is Solitaire. The main character is a spy sent to find out why it has remained a poor, low-population and low-tech planet for as long as it has, when by theory it should have prospered. He does have special buttons, one of which communicates with his ship. He meets a girl in a music shop (looking for an old version of an opera), and they are both captured by the local security force - but escape, due to buttons. The planet is cold but the park is in a heated dome, and there is a significant scene there.

It is immediately followed by "Shamar's War." That story features a planet named Itra with the natives called Itraians, in which the main character is also an undercover offworlder (sent to foment a revolution). It seems like a reasonable mistake of memory to blend them a bit if you read them one after the other.

  • It's funny what 30 years will do to memory. :) – Jerry B May 6 '15 at 3:38

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