Sunday, March 11, 2007

Greatest science fiction/fantasy short stories

I am a great fan of fantasy/science fiction short stories, and I keep a mental (and sometimes physical) list of the stories I would include in my dream anthology. As a service to others, and because stuff like that should be shared, I'm posting that list here, with comments about some of the stories.

Feel free to disagree with me.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

One of the many cases of a short story that has been turned into a book later, but one of the rare case where it actually works, especially since ending of the short story is not the same as the ending of that part of the book.
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-holocaust science fiction classic, no matter if we're talking about the book or the short story here.

A Gun for Dinosaur by L. Sprague de Camp

Michael Swanwick was accussed of plagiating this story not that long ago, to which he said that he had neither heard about L. Sprague de Camp nor this story. While it might be possible for someone to write fantasy and science ficition and not know one of the Grand Masters, I somehow doubt it. I like Swanwick's work, but I lost a lot of respect for him as a person because of this.
A Gun for Dinosaur is a classic time travelling story with a twist.

A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber

Again a post-holocaust story. While some of the premise for the story sounds inplausible to me, the story is still powerful.

A Rose for Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny

If I should name my top-10 favorite short stories, this one would be high on the list. The tale of contact between two cultures.
This is not the last Zelazny story on the list - he is one of my favorite short story writers.

Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany

Delany's classic from the Dangerous Visions anthology edited by Harlan Ellison.

Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock

Moorcock is perhaps more well known for his heroic fantasy (Elric, The Eternal Champion etc.), but he is a good short story writer and editor as well.

Born of Man and Woman by Richard Matheson

I remember the first time I read this story, it haunted me for a long time.

Dodkin’s Job by Jack Vance

Who really rules the world?

Fire Watch by Connie Willis

Based on the same premisses as her Doomesday Book, the story is in many ways more powerful than the book.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Again a classic short story that was succesfully turned into a book. I think the short story is better, but if you can only get hold of the book, then read that.
It was also turned into a movie, Charly, which I haven't seen (though I have it in my collection).

Fondly Fahrenheit by Alfred Bester

Androids and murder doesn't go well together (remember the 1st rule).

Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber

If I recall correctly, this story was also part of Ellison's Dangerous Visions anthology.

Home is the Hangman by Roger Zelazny

One of Zelazny's most well known short stories, and while it's not his best in my oppinion, it's still very very good.

Ill Met in Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber

The classic Fafhrd and Grey Mouser short story that started it all.

Jeffty is Five by Harlan Ellison

Ellison is one of the acknowledged masters of short stories, but I haven't read much by him. Something I need to correct, at least judged by this story.

Millenium by Fredric Brown


Nightfall by Isaac Asimov

One of Asimov's best stories, which says something. It has again and again been voted the best short story ever, and for good reason.

Ser Visal’s Tale by Stephen R. Donaldson

A story of romance and magic. Fantasy by a writer who usually writes much darker stuff.

The Daughter of Regals by Stephen R. Donaldson

I like the premise of this story, and the writing is good.

The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth by Roger Zelazny

The ultimative fishing story.

The Electric Ant by Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein is more known for his books (and his views), but he has written a few really good short stories. This is one of them.

The Furies by Roger Zelazny

The Last of the Romany by Norman Spinrad

Again an author I haven't read much by, but who I want to read more by.

The Last of the Winnebagos by Connie Willis

The Long Watch by Robert A. Heinlein

Real powerful story, and for once no politics I disagree with.

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

I know that some people find the basic premise for this story false, but it's among my favorite short stories.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

Sad. Was later expanded into a full book by the same name. This was chiefly done by adding some later short stories to the original.

The Veil of Astellar by Leigh Brackett

The Women Men Don’t See by James Tiptree, Jr.

Tiptree wrote some really good short stories, but I think this one might be her best.

We Can Get Them for You Wholesale by Neil Gaiman

A bit more recent than most of the other stories on this list, but I don't think Gaiman needs any introduction.

We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick

The movie Total Recall was based, badly, on this short story.

With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson

Can too much technology and free time be bad?

The Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury

I read it many many years ago, and it has haunted me ever since. Then, a couple of years ago, I finally came across it again.

The Man Who Walked Home by James Tiptree, Jr.

Again a briliant short story by Tiptree.

There will probably be other posts with more stories and comments in the future. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.



Anonymous Marcrs1 said...

Do you have any recollection of a post-apocalyptic short story, "The last of the Scones"?

June 28, 2011 6:56 PM  

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