Published: November 2012 and January 2013 in Orson Scott Car’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (you can read a bit of the story at the link)
Genre: science fiction
Length: 37 pages
Setting: a foreign planet, some time in the future
Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology
Summary: Ardam is the Paramount of the five Cranther Families. As he brings his Families to the breeding grounds to begin the Birthing Ceremony for this year’s crop of children, he discovers that humans have built a village on his breeding grounds. Unless the buildings and roads are removed, the children won’t be able to sprout from the ground and no new children will be produced. It could be the end of the Families. Ardam approaches the humans to reason with them to move their houses and allow the children to be born. While the mayor is sympathetic, there is an aggressive faction of humans that doesn’t think they should move for some lousy aliens. It nearly comes to war, but Ardam and the mayor are able to work together with minimal bloodshed.
Final thoughts: Phillips provides an interesting alien, and she kept sprinkling details about their anatomy and culture throughout the story. I spent much of the time trying to picture the creatures. They sounded mostly insectoid, which would definitely provoke some consternation among humans if a giant band of huge insects suddenly showed up surrounding their new village. The aliens also had an easy way to understand new cultures with the Exchange of Body ceremony. It would make meeting new creatures much easier if we could get inside someone’s head in that culture. Of course, humans (at least some of them) still try to mess everything up, choosing violence first instead of diplomacy. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed.
Title comes from: Ardam worked very hard to avoid an all-out war between them and the humans, although he was willing to back up his diplomacy with muscle for just in case.