Two friends come into repeated conflict as one tries to prevent the government from associating with demonic non-humans and the other fosters it—but in the end, it turns out that they were both working for the same goal all along.

Asimov deliberately attempted to write here a story in which he disagreed with the main character’s viewpoint, but the story doesn’t really succeed. The non-humans are rather like the non-humans in the rather better “Hostess,” but that isn’t the problem. (I should mention that this is one of several stories in Nightfall and Other Stories involving non-humans.) The problem is just that the conflict between the two humans doesn’t work. The story ends up being muddled and flat and not terribly interesting.

I'm also a little uncomfortable with the us-or-them approach to the conflict between the humans and the aliens. Neither protagonist, in the end, is interested in genuinely trying to find a workable way for humanity and the aliens to live together, neither even seems to envision it as a goal to strive for. Yes, I realize that this is just the set-up for the story, that Asimov is deliberately creating an alien race with so firm an us-or-them attitude that humanity (and the reader) is forced to accept it as inevitable—but I still don’t like it. Again, this makes perfect sense within the confines of the story, but it’s rather un-Asimovian and feels unnatural as a result.

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