“Stranger Station,” Damon Knight, 1956 – Paul Wesson is stationed on Stranger Station, which will be visited by an overwhelmingly alien consciousness. His only companion is the robot (female) Aunt Jane. His purpose is to establish contact with the alien, in the interest of picking up a longevity serum that the aliens have offered to humanity as a gift. He tries to endure the saturating presence of the alien mind–and the degradation of his ability to communicate with other humans that results from this communion–but he begins to fixate on what he calls Wesson’s Law: “When two alien cultures meet, the stronger must transform the weaker with love or hate.” He comes to suspect that the aliens, having determined that humanity will one day be a space-faring race, are attempting to “adapt” humanity to the aliens in advance, perhaps over the course of centuries. Humans will have been conquered–not by hate, but by love–and Wesson decides that he will use hate to resist.
Comments: Themes of First Contact, the Other, emotions, economics, life extension. Read in The Best of the Best, ed. Merril. Marcus Pan describes the story: “Stranger Station is a hard SF piece with theological and philosophical depths. What happens when two alien races, both of which are a blasphemy of vision to the other, see for the first time their likenesses?” A more detailed analysis is available in Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers: Volume 3, by Thomas D. Clareson. Finally, the imagery of a remote station which two alien races must visit at an appointed time anticipates the opening sequence of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series.
Author: Wikipedia: “Damon Francis Knight (September 19, 1922 – April 15, 2002) was an American science fiction author, editor, critic and fan. His forte was short stories and he is widely acknowledged as having been a master of the genre.”