Fu Sheng is a 900 year old vampire who left Earth looking for something different. Even he could not imagine the intrigue he would find when he gets caught up investigating the murder of an alien medical student on Pharoah II, a distant planet inhabited by humans and a strange and secretive alien race. Fu Sheng finds himself not just investigating the murder but trying to understand the alien race in an attempt to learn the secret it harbors that someone would murder to keep a secret.
“A Foreign Body” could be a little difficult to follow at times as the story seemed a little unorganized at points. Ellison does circle around at the end to pull the story together but there were some points in which I could not figure out what direction the story was going in. For a short story, it felt a little wordy and I would have liked to have seen the story cut down and streamlined a little more. Still, Ellison touches upon some interesting themes in the story and that makes it worth reading.
The one thing that bothered me about the story is that the fact that Fu Sheng is a vampire was more of a distraction than an addition to the story. There really was no need for this story to be told through the filter of a vampire. Since it is already a story centered on the clash of human and alien culture, this added element of a vampire character (and a resulting third cultural element to the story) just seemed to add clutter rather than clarity. With all that said, “A Foreign Body” is still a good story about human and alien interaction and how the disparity of cultures can lead to conflict and even murder.