“Hostess”: Five Stars
You’d think Asimov couldn’t top “Nightfall” in his Nightfall and Other Stories collection, but he has.
This is a fascinating, compelling little story that is one part mystery, one part science-fiction, and one part mind-blowing concept. Rose married late in life to a police officer, something her friends and colleagues didn’t understand. Rose is a biologist, but there’s something about Drake that has forged a connection between the two.
Now, Rose has the honor of hosting an alien dignitary in their home Drake isn’t overly thrilled, but Rose is delighted to learn more about the alien world and culture — beyond what they allow the people of Earth to know.
I’ve just skimmed the surface of this story because it’s one of those delights that it’s best you don’t know much if anything about it before embarking on it. As with “Nightfall,” there are echoes of future, longer works by Asimov here — the police officer who is skeptical of a new form of life and intelligence, the debate over hosting such a being in one’s home, etc. But this one has a bit more sinister thread running through it than the Bailey novels.
If you haven’t read this one, you should. If you’ve read it, it might be time to read it again. A marvel.