Friday, July 6, 2007

[A1] Short stories: A reading guide by quality - Part 1 of 10

The big list of short stories' below currently does not include all stories at this site - perhaps half the posts. I do intend to bring in remaining stories here - but that will take a while.

List below is ranked on quality - best first. Stories with same rating & in close proximity are sometimes about the same quality, & could have been ranked a little differently.

I classify novelette of Hugo Awards as short stories, & its novellas as either short story or novel depending on my whim (but usually as short story)! A complimentary listing of novels by quality is also available. For historical reasons, I maintain list of shorts by Arthur Clarke separately.

If you are looking for a few good stories to read, try some A-rated ones near the beginning of list. If you are looking for a specific story or author, try searching using the box at top of this page - many reviewed stories never make it to this page, but might have short commentary elsewhere.

Prefix "*" indicates the full text of the story is available online for free. Link will often be found either with the entry below, & in respective review of story; occasionally only in review post.

Some stories are tagged science fiction, fantasy, etc in bold, while others are not. I will eventually tag all; for the moment, please use description for untagged entries.

This is a multi-part file.

Because the list has grown too big. Target is to keep 25-50 stories in each part file. Part files will be split when they grow too big; so their URLs are not safe to link to. Link to this file only ("main story list"); this URL is stable.

This A1 file was last split on 23 May 2008; later half of the file that day is now in A2 file. Contents of original A2 file that day are now in new A3/A4 files.

List navigation.

Current file's name is in bold. Files earlier in the list hold better stories; those later in the list worse stories. Files names Ai contain A-rated stories, etc.

first, previous, next.
[A1], A2, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, B4, C1, C2.

Story list (best first).

  1. Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" (A); download text or MP3; Astounding, August 1954; science fiction: An innocent girl is to be executed due to apathy of administration (according to author, due to nature's laws, but that's now how it comes across in the story). Intensely emotional.
  2. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "The Twonky" (A); Astounding, September 1942; science fiction, humor: An audio player that can do your dishes, read & change your mind, stop you from doing naughty things, ...!
  3. Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" (A); F&SF, April 1959: Don't maltreat mentally retarded, please.
  4. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (A); Astounding, February 1943; science fiction: This story was originally published under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett - joint pseudonym of spouses Henry Kuttner and C L Moore. Cognitive processes impossible to human adults can be taught to very young children.
  5. * Ellen Klages' "Ringing Up Baby" (A); download; Nature magazine, 27 April 2006; science fiction, humor: A made-to-order baby, gone wrong. Beautiful piece of humor - and chillingly plausible.
  6. * Eric Frank Russell's "Allamagoosa" (A); Astounding, May 1955; science fiction, humor: A line manager fixes books to pass a bureaucratic inspection, & ends up causing chaos. Winner of Hugo Award 1955 in short story category.
  7. * Edgar Allen Poe's "A Descent Into The Maelström" (A), download; April 1841; science fiction: A man survives after getting sucked into a maelstrom by keeping his wits.
  8. James P Hogan's "Making Light" (A); Judy-Lynn del Rey (Ed)'s "Stellar #7: Science Fiction Stories", August, 1981; fantasy, humor: GOD's problems dealing with heavenly bureaucracy!
  9. [novella] Eric Frank Russell's "The Ultimate Invader" aka "Design for Great-Day" (A); Planet Stories, January 1953; space opera: Mythical intergalactic super-cops are out to enforce new war-free rules for space lanes!
  10. [novelette] Eric Frank Russell's "Dear Devil" (A); Other Worlds Science Stories, May 1950; science fiction: Humanity rises from post-nuclear-war apocalypse - with some external help.
  11. Robert Heinlein's "Misfit" (A); Astounding, November 1939; science fiction: An asteroid is moved - to build a space station!
  12. Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man" (A); Harlan Ellison (Ed)'s "Dangerous Visions", 1967; science fiction: Chilling implications of human organ transplant technology. Nominated for Hugo Awards 1968 in short story category.
  13. Robert Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" (A); science fiction: Terrorist attack on suburban transport system causes much mayhem.
  14. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Or Else" (A); Amazing Stories, August/September 1953; non-genre, humor: An ageless story about men giving unsolicited advise to others without understanding the other party's circumstances.
  15. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "The Proud Robot" (A); Astounding, October 1943; with C L Moore; science fiction, humor: Hilarious story about a robot in love with itself. Touches on some contemporary themes - video use in a way that annoys content owners, DRM (yes - in a 1943 story!), frivolous patents - but in a manner technologically irrelevant to current times (except last issue - patents).
  16. James Blish's "Surface Tension" aka "Lavon" (A); Galaxy, August, 1952; science fiction: When a stellar colonization ship crashed on an uninhabitable water world with no chance of anyone surviving more than a few weeks, the colonists do the next best thing - create microscopic water-borne life forms adapted to local world that are essentially human! Now these microscopic "men" are ready to discover who their ancestors were.
  17. Tobias Wolff's "A Mature Student" (A); Playboy, September 2007; non-genre: Outstanding story about the psychology & environment that create torturing security men - of the kind that were in news some time back in US military's torture camps in Iraq & Afghanistan.
  18. * Mike Resnick's "Merry Bunta!" (A); download; Subterranean magazine, Fall 2007; non-genre, humor: Lucifer falls in love, & goes to great lengths to win his lady love.
  19. * [novelette] A Bertram Chandler's "Familiar Pattern" (A); download; Astounding, August 1959 (as by George Whitley); science fiction: An illustration of European colonization pattern of some centuries ago - "the chance contact,
    the trader, the missionary, the incident, and the gunboat", ...
  20. [novelette] Clifford D Simak's "The Big Front Yard"; Astounding, October 1958; 1959 Hugo winner; science fiction: When aliens introduced humans into the cosmic community of rational beings.
  21. [novella] Isaac Asimov's "The Martian Way" (A); Galaxy, November 1952: Martian colonists, to get an upper hand in a diplomatic row with earth, have worked out technology to move an iceberg from a ring of Saturn to Mars (to meet their water needs)!
  22. Jack Vance's "Meet Miss Universe" (A); Fantastic Universe, March 1955; science fiction, humor: There are a lot of dissatisfied souls at the conclusion of multi-species Galactic Beauty Contest.
  23. * [novelette] Raccoona Sheldon's "The Screwfly Solution" (A); download; Analog, June 1977; science fiction: Insects are to humans what humans are to these aliens!
  24. * Kij Johnson's "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change" (A); download; Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Ed)'s "Coyote Road, Trickster Tales", July 2007: What if animals could speak? Very moving accounts of man/dog relations - told from the perspective of dogs. Added to my best of the year 2007 list.
  25. * John G Hemry's "Small Moments in Time" (A); download; Analog, December 2004; science fiction: A man in a position to act faces a terrible dilemma.
  26. David Brin's "The Smartest Mob" (A); Jim Baen's Universe, #11 (February 2008); hard sf: A terrorist attack is foiled, by electronically summoning an online mob of helpful amateurs, experts, & hangers ons.
  27. * Greg Egan's "Steve Fever" (A); download; MIT Technology Review, November/December 2007; science fiction: An autonomous self-replicating robot swarm is on an impossible mission - to resurrect its dead creator!
  28. Alfred Bester's "Adam and No Eve" (A); Astounding, September 1941' science fiction: A maniacal inventor inadvertently uses a new discovery & ends up destroying all life on earth. But there is a way yet for earth to rebuild life - only there won't be any more humans.
  29. * Katherine Maclaine's "All Kinds of Reasons" (A); download; Strange Horizons, 3 September 2007; science fiction: Ability to choose the best baby among many possible ones leads to extreme emotional turmoil for a man.


Rusty said...


This list is a great idea! I can't believe I didn't run into it earlier. Oh well, I plan on visiting this page often to get ideas for my own story reviews.

Very nice work yet again.

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That is great to hear, thank you for reading!