An inability to express emotion, but a capacity to read them in others, makes Nora a perfect person to conclude a trade deal with the alien race of Mask People, who use their facial expressions as their primary communication method. Trouble is, Nora is tasked with pushing through a trade deal very much imbalanced in favour of humanity’s interested.
The story revolves around her relationship with her unpleasant superior, colleagues and the alien delegation, as she struggles with the moral dilemma. Is there a way she can get around it?
The story is fine as far as it goes, but lacks a bit of depth and colour for my liking. The opening paragraph describes the alien vessel quite nicely, but then after that there is little description, with a mention of eating quiche for lunch somewhat jarring. I’d put it down as more of an Analog-type story, where the implications of an interesting scientific issue/condition are explored.