The reader isn’t told what the narrator’s title or job is. He (?) is a scientist with a whiteboard and a lab coat who has had training in diplomacy and experience in negotiating agreements with extraterrestrial species. The first rule of diplomacy, as a professor told him, is to know what the other party wants—better than they do. Once you know what they want, you can drive a hard bargain.
The professor’s advice had served him well over the years. That is, until the Plumarans came along. They’d taken specialized objects from other planets. No one could speak their language or had a clue where they came from. Now they were destroying historic landmarks—the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower—until they got what they came to earth for.
This is sparsely told. The reader learns little about the narrator. Aside from the whiteboard, there’s almost no scene-setting. All we know about the Plumarans—aside from their lousy temper, of course—is that they have tentacles. The scarcity of details matters little because it’s all a lead-up to a single punchline at the end of the story.
There’s always the risk of such a thing falling flat, but not here. This is cute. While War and Peace may not feel threatened, at least this gets a high chuckle rating.
This was cute.
The story can be read here.
According to his blurb, Joshua Fagan started writing science fiction because he was tired of waiting for the future. His favorite stories mix the futuristic and the mundane, the world to come with the world that is. He also appreciates a nice dollop of humor in his sci-fi, because the future isn’t going to be less weird than the present. When he’s not writing interstellar strangeness, he travels the world and eats too much seafood. His work has been published in a variety of publications, including 365 Tomorrows and Plum Tree Tavern. This is his second published story in Daily Science Fiction.
Title: “Intergalactic Negotiations”
Author: Joshua Fagan
First published: Daily Science Fiction, September 21, 2020