Saturday, November 3, 2007

[B1] Short stories: A reading guide by quality - Part 5 of 10

This B1 file was split on 23 May 2008 because the list has grown too big & unwieldy; later half is now in B2 file (original B2 file on this day is now in new B3/B4 files). Some opening remarks of main story list document conventions, if you are here the first time.

This file will again be split in future when it grows big - so it's not safe to link to. Links should be only to original main story list that now contains initial part & links to remaining parts; that's the only stable URL among the files comprising this list.

Idea is to keep each file between 25 & 50 stories.

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. * Stanley G Weinbaum's "Parasite Planet" (B); download; Astounding, February 1935; science fiction: Good romance on Venus. Technically very dated, but great imagination.
  2. Eric Frank Russell's "Mesmerica" (B); "Men, Martians, and Machines", 1955; science fiction: Human adventurers on a planet of hostile telepaths.
  3. * Bud Sparhawk's "Clay's Pride" (B); download; Analog, July 2004; science fiction: A standard space opera.
  4. * Nancy Kress' "Safeguard" (B); download; Asimov's, January 2007; science fiction: An earthquake has forced 4 little children, genetically modified to have a poisonous breath & kept in quarantine, to get out of quarantine. Plot is a variation of classic Indian story of "vish kanya".
  5. Henry Kuttner's "The Misguided Halo" (B); Unknown, August 1939; fantasy, humor: An angel has mistakenly granted sainthood on an ordinary man. Now the man must sin to get rid of the unwanted sainthood!
  6. * Bruce Sterling's "Kiosk" (B); download; F&SF, January 2007: Consumers win a fight to get material copying machines legalized - after a violent revolution.
  7. * Kage Baker's "The Empress of Mars" (B); download; Asimov's, July 2003; science fiction: A woman of grit refuses to be cowed down by powerful establishment.
  8. Robert Heinlein's "It's Great To Be Back" (B); The Saturday Evening Post, 26 July 1947; science fiction: A homesick couple discovers the meaning of home.
  9. * Andy Duncan's "Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse" (B); download; Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy", October 2007; non-genre, humor: A little child has met an avatar of Jesus Christ!
  10. * Ted Chiang's "Understand" (B); download; Asimov's, August 1991; science fiction: Clash of two intellectual supermen, created with brain cell rejuvenation therapy.
  11. * David Goldman's "The Last Man's First Year on Earth" (B); download; Helix #7, Winter 2008; science fiction: An earth with very long lived individuals who will always physically remain pre-puberty kids, seen through the eyes of the sole surviving physical adult.
  12. Anne McCaffrey's "Weyr Search" (B); Analog, October 1967; fantasy: Description of human society on an extra-Sol world that has lost contact with mother world, & has fallen to barbarism. Quite readable. If you are into dragons, feudal lords, & some magic, you will probably enjoy it more than I did.
  13. Eric Frank Russell's "Heav'n, Heav'n" (B); Future Science Fiction, 1956; science fiction: A chance meeting with a benefactor pushes a boy into the career of a spaceman.
  14. * Kevin Anderson & Rebecca Moesta's "Rough Draft" (B); download;Analog, January 2005; science fiction: A motivational story - don't let great early success create a phobia that your future works will be found wanting because they are compared to an early very successful one.
  15. * Adam-Troy Castro's "Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl's" (B); download; Analog, June 2001; science fiction: Description of an enigma on moon. Good development of anticipation, but a dull ending.
  16. * Ray Bradbury's "August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" (B); science fiction: Description of a post-nuclear-war city with a single house standing (but inhabitants dead). Story is told via the highly automated & intelligent home & its appliances. This is a much lighter read than the two Clarke stories I've read on essentially the same theme: "The Curse", & "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth".
  17. Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "The Iron Standard" (B); Astounding, December 1943: Jolting a static civilization out of its slumber.
  18. Henry Kuttner's "The Big Night" (as by Hudson Hastings) (B); Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1947: A space opera with a high philosophy content - technology change can be very painful for some who refuse to let go of the old.
  19. [ss] Eric Frank Russell's "Top Secret" (B); Astounding, August 1956; science fiction, humor: Fun with data-corrupting communications channels!
  20. * [ff] Gregory Benford's "Reasons not to Publish" (B); download (corrupt HTML layout, needs cleaning); Nature, December 2007; science fiction: A man discovers the physical nature of God, & is very frightened by implications of discovery.
  21. * [novelette] E M Forster's "The Machine Stops" (B); download text, audiobook; Oxford & Cambridge Review, November 1909; science fiction: When the machine meant to serve became an overlord.
  22. * Gene Wolfe's "Memorare" (B); download; F&SF, April 2007; science fiction: Kind-of please-everyone novella about raiders of human tombs in space, & their makers who don't want the tombs of their dear ones raided.
  23. * Mary Robinette Kowal's "For Solo Cello, op. 12" (B); download; Cosmos, February/March 2007; science fiction: A man is forced to make an impossible choice - get his hand lost in accident in return for the life of his unborn child!
  24. * Ursula K Le Guin's "The Flyers of Gy" (B); download;, 8 November 2000; fantasy: It's a hard life for the physically different!
  25. * Lucius Shepard's "Stars Seen Through Stone" (B); download; F&SF, July 2007; fantasy: A cocktail of - a small music label owner nurtures a talented but maladjusted musician, a romance, & evil waves that harvest human creativity. It's a good story, except for incomprehensible waves part.