Favorite Classic Sci-Fi Short Stories/Novellas
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
What are some of your favorite classic short stories or novellas? A few come to mind for me:
"Robbie" - Isaac Asimov
" All the Myriad Ways" - Larry Niven'
"Who Goes There" - John W Campbell Jr
"Runaround" - Isaac Asimov
"All You Zombies" - Robert Heinlein
"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" - Philip K Dick
"The Marching Morons" - Cyril Kornbluth
1. ‘Aye, And Gomorrah’, Samuel R Delany (1967)
2. ‘And I Awoke And Found Me Here On The Cold Hill Side’, James Tiptree Jr. (1971)
3. ‘A Little Something For Us Tempunauts’, Philip K Dick (1974)
4. ‘Air Raid’, John Varley (1977)
5. ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, William Gibson (1981)
6. ‘The Brains Of Rats’, Michael Blumlein (1986)
7. ‘A Gift From The Culture’, Iain M Banks (1987)
8. ‘Forward Echoes’, Gwyneth Jones (1990)
9. ‘FOAM’, Brian Aldiss (1991)
10. ‘The Road To Jerusalem’, Mary Gentle (1991)
But I need to think of some that have been published in the past 20 years...
"Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes is my favorite classic short. I finished reading it while standing in line at the metal detectors at work (I worked in a courthouse at the time)...I'll never forget it. Yeah, I cried. It still makes me cry.
The nine billion names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
Division by Zero by Ted Chiang
Beyond lies the Wub by Philip K. Dick
Hell is the absence of God by Ted Chiang
We can remember it for you wholesale by Philip K. Dick
Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw (Thanks for the reminder, andyl)
Tears by Ian McDonald
"Think Like a Dinosaur", James Patrick Kelly
"The Ugly Chickens", Howard Waldrop
"Light of Other Days", Bob Shaw
I would second the Ted Chiang recommendations - a short story specialist and all of his stuff is recent.
Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones by Samuel R. Delany
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin
Protection by Maureen F. McHugh
Houston, Houston, Do You Read by James Tiptree
By "classic", I assume you mean "old" --
"Nightfall" -- Asimov
"Asylum" and "The Weapon Shop" -- A.E. Van Vogt
E for Effort -- 'T.L. Sherred
"History Lesson" -- Arthur C. Clarke
"Forgetfulness" -- John W. Campbell Jr.
Destiny Times Three --- Fritz Leiber
Hunter Come Home --- Richard McKenna
"By His Bootstraps" -- Heinlein
Here's another way of going about it:
Stories I have given 5* to here:
Yellow Card Man by Paolo Bacigalupi
The object of the attack by J. G. Ballard
Eagle's Song by Stephen Baxter
Tommy Atkins by Barrington J. Bayley
Mercies by Gregory Benford
The Bob Dylan Tambourine Software And Satori Support Services Consortium Ltd. by Michael Bishop
The Giving Plague by David Brin
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Randy and Alexei go jaw jaw by Neil Ferguson
Goodbye Houston Street, Goodbye by Richard Kadrey
Visiting the Dead by William King
Little Lost Robot by Paul McAuley
His Vegetable Wife by Pat Murphy
Moon Moon Moon by Kim Newman
Spirey And The Queen by Alastair Reynolds
Green England by David Redd
Unconquered Country by Geoff Ryman
Laika's Ghost by Karl Schroeder
And he not busy being born by Brian Stableford
The Exterminator's Want Ad by Bruce Sterling
A Colder War by Charles Stross
and any story in:
Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald
I don't read lots of short stories, but surely any list should include:
Cordwainer Smith - maybe "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" or "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell", but the effect is best if one reads a bunch of the Instrumentality stories
Ray Bradbury - again many options, but my favorite is "There Will Come Soft Rains"
Avram Davidson - "Or All the Seas with Oysters", minor but classic
William Tenn - "Venus and the Seven Sexes"
Theodore Sturgeon - "The Microcosmic God"
All of them are famous for many great stories (in the case of Bradbury, even his "novels" are often collections of closely linked short stories)
>10 Thanks, brightcopy. That does give a good list of sci-fi books, but I was thinking more along the lines of short-stories -those that might be in a collection of the author's short-stories, or in an anthology.
I think I Am Legend and the OP's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep are pushing things further than they should. They are novels. Short ones by today's standards but at the time their length would be unremarkable. The usual definition is that the novel form starts at 40,000 words.
Looking at ISFDB it seems that there is also a collection called "I Am Legend" (which contains the novel and some short stories) and that it is combined with the novel "I Am Legend". So there is a bit of separation to be done as they are two separate works.
#14 Not sure what you mean. According to isfdb.org, it was first published in Interzone #20.
I'm rubbish at remembering individual short stories, but have been impressed with:
All of Ted Chaing's work. I need to buy some of this!
CH Cherryh's collected short stories - a couple not so hot, but a few were very very good indeed.
Sandkings before he started a fantasy epic
And some of Heinleins which surprised me, because I haven't liked his novels. A crooked house being a favourite.
The Keys to December by Roger Zelazny
E for Effort by T. L. Sherred
The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
A Walk in the Dark by Arther C. Clarke
With Friends Like These... by Alan Dean Foster
Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon
Ah, yes. How could I have failed to mention "Harrison Bergeron" by Vonnegut - one of my all time favorites.
I know that some would question whether this is actual sci-fi or not, but I've always considered it to be.
I also agree with "Nine Billion Names of God" by Clarke and the Ender's Game story by Orson Scott Card. I just learned about Heinlein's A Crooked House and am looking forward to reading it.
There are a lot of others that I am going to have to put on my reading list from the looks of it!!
#20 Yeah. I'm no good at remembering the names of short stories too. Too little contact time I suppose.
I've been meaning to read "Nine Billion Names of God" it keeps coming up and it reminds me of an article of the same name and an awesome graphic in a magazine I had a subscription to in college.
The Ugly Little Boy-Isaac Asimov
The Last Question-Isaac Asimov
The Bicentennial Man- Isaac Asimov
The Dead Past(or something similar)-Isaac Asimov
I have many short story anthologies of Isaac Asimov and not many of other authors yet so these are the only ones I can contribute (there are other good ones just can not remember).
My top 5 would be something like:
1) "The Deathbird" - Harlan Ellison
2) "The Golden Apples of the Sun" - Ray Bradbury
3) "The Last Question" - Isaac Asimov
4) "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" - Ellison
5) "The Colour Out of Space" - H.P. Lovecraft
Philip Jose Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" almost made it just on sheer virtuoso chutzpah, but I don't know if it is finally as effective as the other 5.
Ah. Lovecraft! Well its not SF so its OT but "The White Ship" is one of my favorite of Lovecraft's short stories. And of course "Dagon" which I think is SF. Well maybe not, but "At the Mountains of Madness" is. Yes, Halloween is near so it's time to immerse myself in Poe and Lovecraft again.
#27 I complained I needed to think of some sf short fiction published in the last 20 years, but I think you might need to read some written in the last 70 years...
Shoo, ian, we're talking classics, here. Go peddle your new age high brow scifi elsewhere. ;)
If Gollancz have 1995 as the cut-off date for their Masterworks series, then why can't we for "classic"? :-)
I grew up reading and loving short stories of all types. I’ve only read a few since 1988 or so, and even then they are mostly older stories. That said, these are the ones that still standout in my mind, most many years later.
Isaac Asimov: Marooned of Vesta; The Last Question; The Bicentennial Man
Arthur C. Clarke: Time’s Arrow; “If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth…”
Larry Niven: Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex; Inconstant Moon
Lester del Rey: Though Poppies Grow; The Faithful
Frederick Pohl: Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus; The Midas Plague
H. Beam Piper: Graveyard of Dreams; Crossroads of Destiny
James White: Second Ending
Murray Leinster: Sidewise in Time; The Runaway Skyscraper
James Blish: Surface Tension
Edmond Hamilton: Fessenden’s Worlds; Alien Earth
L. Sprague de Camp: Hyperpilosity
Connie Willis: Fire Watch
Charles Stross: Palimpsest
Nothing like a little weird/horror fiction when the weather starts to get cooler - it chills the that blood much more efficently. :D
Actually, I think the best fiction/weather/location combination I've had in recent years is immersing myself in Lovecraft's ATMOM while stuck under a foot of snow here in the Midwest - creepy!
PS If you're really up for reading some classic horror this time of year, you should go check out our reading group over at The Weird Tradition - we will be reading some Edgar Allan Poe, HPL, C.L. Moore, and other such goodness in the coming weeks. Here's the link:
>29 & 30
Oh, you two. :D
Ian, I always tend to gravitate toward the old stuff in any medium/genre I am interested in, for a variety of reasons. For example, most of my favorite music was recorded when I was still a toddler. I'm just really fascinated with the roots of things, I guess.
To echo and elaborate Art's plug in #39, the first item in the group weird fiction read is the golden-age SF story "Shambleau" by C.L. Moore.
#41 I started reading Shambleau last evening. My copy included a brief description of where it was written; in a bank vault. Very amusing.
I'm new here and don't know how to post links like you guys seem to be able to do.
However, you missed out Eric Frank Russell's laugh out loud classic, "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE." Read it and give yourself a treat!
There's another really fun story, "N PLUS ONE; N MINUS ONE," but I can't remember who the author was for the life of me. Does anyone else know?
Finally, I can't believe you guys missed out John Wyndham's "PAWLEY'S PEEPHOLES." A real fun classic!
I like stuff with humor - I try to include it in my own books.
Heinlein's "A CROOKED HOUSE" has already been mentioned - that was a blast too!
#43 by Alondo> Welcome to the club! You brought chips and dip for everyone, right??
Sure, and you won't gain a single calorie!!!
Can anyone help me out by remembering who wrote n plus 1; n minus 1 ? It's driving me nuts!
Brightcopy, thank you for the html link. I must show it to my wife. ;-)
Glad that we have brightcopy in this group to teach us all a thing or two. I've been looking in at all of the hacks here and they are brilliant!
I just remembered A Song for Lya by George RR Martin -- though the sidebar lists his name, I don't see it in the posts. Certainly a classic (and creepy) novella.
Everyone is making such a fuss about his fantasy lately, but Martin has written some very good SF.
I recently read Fred Saherhagen's Berserker, the first volume of which is short stories, and thought some of them were great.
My favorite SciFi short story is one that I read in a magazine, back in the mid 1980s:
See if you like it, too.
#55 Very good!
You women just look on us as objects. I've always known that was the case.
Some stories by Ted Chiang have been mentioned, but no one seems to have listed "Story of your life". I think that is quite possibly his best one.
Also I would say most stories by Clifford Simak, perhaps especially "Kindergarten".
Last year, SF Signal asked some people to come up with the TOCs to their "perfect" anthology. My attempt is about halfway down the page here.
I'm woefully under-read in classic sf short stories (someday I'll delve into those Sturgeon collections, for instance), but here are a few, some more recent than others, that have stuck with me over the years:
"Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" by Harlan Ellison
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes" by Roger Zelazny
"The Star Pit" by Samuel R. Delany
"The Invisible Country" and "Interstitial" by Paul J. McAuley
Several by Tiptree: "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!", "The Screwfly Solution", "Slow Music", "The Milk of Paradise", "Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death"
"Lobsters" and "Rogue Farm" by Charles Stross
"Cleopatra Brimstone" by Elizabeth Hand
"Pockets" by Rudy Rucker & John Shirley
"Coming of Age in Karhide" by Ursula Le Guin
"The Lucky Strike" by Kim Stanley Robinson
#61, among all the lists from the SF Signal page, there are a great number of great science fiction stories. and too many I am unfamiliar with and/or don't recall. Your list, Ian, contained quite a few I was unfamilar with (that may be because of a US vs UK reading history I think). I think I was most in synch with Nancy Kress's list, but saw quite a few stories from other lists that would go in my own personal 25 instead. I think I'd have to have something by Lucius Shepard in my own top 25 however. just because.
There are a lot of good stories mentioned among everyone's selections above. I'm not sure I could come up with a list of 25. I'd be constantly editing it as I recalled something else.
This post reminded me of a new "textbook" anthology that SF Signal highlighted earlier this year. There's some food for thought in this one:
"The Mountains of Mourning" by Louis McMaster Bujold, while perhaps pushing the definition of a "short story" (some consider it a novella), is an excellent introduction to Bujold's "Vorkosigan" series and an excellent, poignant tale in its own right. It's best available in the Bujold story collection Young Miles. Other short stories in the "Vorkosigan" series can also be highly recommended.
I've been compiling an imaginary anthology of 20th century Sf/Fantasy stories for some time. It's a long time since someone posted here, but I'll list some of my choices:
The Year of the Jackpot Robert Heinlein 1952
Home is the Hangman Roger Zelazny 1975
The Game of Rat and Dragon Cordwainer Smith 1955
The Oldest Soldier Fritz Leiber 1960
Surface Tension James Blish 1952
Born of Man and Woman Richard Matheson 1950
Angouleme Thomas Disch 1971
Great Work of Time John Crowley 1989
Patron of the Arts William Rotsler 1972
Boobs Suzy McKee Charnas 1989
The Miracle of Ivar Avenue John Kessel 1996
The Phantom of Kansas John Varley 1976
Reasons to Be Cheerful Greg Egan 1997
That's my tentative volume one of a projected four. Rougly 400 pages of great SF.
Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge by Mike Resnick barely slips in by iansales guideline.
Join to post
You must be a member of this group to post.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.