Questions tagged [short-stories]

For about a fictional work too small to be called a novel - usually less than 10-20 thousand words and no chapters. Only use when identifying a work (use in conjunction with [story-identification] here) or when there is a tag ambiguity. If you are looking for a particular anthology of short stories, use the [anthology-book] tag.

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311
votes
1answer
17k views

Story where the number 3 is the monster?

I remember as a child (in the nineties) reading a story where the narrator was a little boy and how he was scared only twice a day – when the clock read 3:33. The 3's would be powerful enough (there ...
81
votes
2answers
5k views

Short story where human explorers accidentally blind an alien race

I read a short story (probably 20 years ago) about a human scientific expedition that arrives at an alien planet. The planet is covered by a thick cloud layer and orbits a dim red star. The humans ...
79
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0answers
3k views

Married couple pretend to like each other due to crystal sculpture

Years ago, I remember reading a short story (as I remember it) about a couple whose prized possession is semi-living crystal structure that is sensitive to their relationship; it grows and maintains ...
71
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1answer
3k views

Short story about Neurosurgeon uses nanobots to cure patients, 'reprograms' ex-wife to fall back in love with him

I read this story sometime between 1989 and 1991 in a SF&F magazine (Asimov's Science Fiction? The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Amazing Stories?) and I've looked for it for years, in ...
70
votes
1answer
6k views

Man serves a sentence for the murder he will be allowed to commit in the future

I recently remembered a short story I had read a while ago in a sci-fi compilation. I tried to identify it, but my Google-fu is not up to the task. Google, however, directed me here. So, I hope ...
63
votes
1answer
3k views

A man takes riskier and riskier jobs (involving a transportation ring) for more money

I'm looking for a story I read in 1980. It is a short story and may have been in one of Asimov's or Bradbury's collections. It was about a man looking for a job. He goes into an office with, I ...
60
votes
1answer
8k views

Short story read ~25 year ago where changing person's name prevents a war

I believe I read this short story in a collection. A man's wife goes to a consultant to improve his career. The consultant says include your middle initial (I think). The story goes though the ...
54
votes
0answers
895 views

Spambot becomes self aware but every attempt to contact gets filtered

About 3-6 years ago I read a short story (online, I think) formatted as a series of emails sent by a spambot that had become self aware and was trying to make contact but, due to its origins, was ...
53
votes
1answer
7k views

Story about a spaceship “emergency program” that simulates a “perfect woman”

There’s an SF story I’ve been looking for for a long time. I have a hard time believing that I made it up myself, so I feel like it must be out there, somewhere. But I can’t seem to find it. The ...
52
votes
3answers
14k views

Short story about “the monster under her bed”, where the monster protects the girl from abusive parents

I remember reading a short story on the internet, maybe a year or two ago, that was about a monster under the bed of a little girl. The story took about 10 minutes to read I think. Can you help me ...
52
votes
1answer
5k views

Short story about an endless space ship

I read it online few years ago. It is a short story about exploring a spacecraft/ship/station that seems to be infinite inside. It is written like a log, and each entry starts with a measure, like ...
52
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story about a boy and girl enclosed in an experiment and given injections to age rapidly

The story is told from the point of view of one of the scientists. He meets the subjects in the experiment as they play in the lab before being put into the enclosure that will become their world/home....
51
votes
2answers
4k views

Let There Be Light Story Identification

I am looking to identify a story that I read around 2001 (it is probably much older). Someone showed me the story on pages printed from the internet, and it was attributed to Isaac Asimov (although I ...
51
votes
1answer
3k views

A short story where criminals are sent back in time as punishment?

I've already searched Wikipedia's list of time travel stories in hopes of finding it, but no such luck. This is the basic plot of the story: In the future, criminals are sent back to the Renaissance ...
49
votes
1answer
6k views

Old short story where scientist creates “time viewer” to see founding of Stonehenge, realizes at end he may have inspired its creation

Plot Details/Summary The premise of this tale is that a scientist, or small group of scientists, have created a device that will allow them to open a viewing portal to the past. With it, the ...
47
votes
3answers
8k views

A story where a small child takes on the pain of the world

I think this was a short story, and I have no recollection of where or when I read it. It had a dystopian disguised as a utopian feel. From what I remember, the world was at peace and everyone was ...
47
votes
3answers
4k views

Short story about free will and a device which buzzes/lights up moments before you press it

I read this story about a device that lights up or buzzes or does something moments before it you press a button or something, effectively killing the notion of free will. I read the recently, online, ...
47
votes
1answer
4k views

Seeking a story about a subway train journey, through a universe made entirely of city

A man living in an underground city gets on his local subway train and keeps traveling, station after station, just to see where it goes. Nobody has ever done this before. The staff on the train (...
46
votes
3answers
4k views

What short story is about an invasion from metallic creatures?

I used to have a bunch of used short form books when I was growing up that I have since long lost, and I remember a story about an invasion of Earth by some metallic creatures that I never finished ...
45
votes
2answers
4k views

Short story that had doors being replaced with portals in the future?

I recall a sci-fi story, likely a short story in a compendium, set in the future where portals are used to move about as the outside is believed to be uninhabitable due to fallout from a war. The ...
44
votes
4answers
11k views

Man wakes up too soon and scene isn't set

I'm looking for a story published between 1955-62. A man wakes up too soon and finds that he has been "living in a play" and the scene hasn't been set for that day. Would probably have appeared in ...
44
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2answers
7k views

Pre-1972 sci-fi short story or novel: alien(?) tunnel where people try new moves and get destroyed if they're not the correct ones

It might be a short story or it might be a novel. It must be before 1972 because I read it in my youth and I am OLD. The following is very impressionistic. There is a multidimensional/not of this ...
43
votes
1answer
5k views

Short story about a slower-than-light interstellar ship carrying the last seeds of humanity

I read this story in a science fiction anthology. I think I found it in a public library somewhere around the late 1990s. I don't remember the guiding theme of the collection (if there was one), nor ...
42
votes
1answer
4k views

SF story about a planet inhabited by *extremely slow* humanoids…?

This must be quite an oldish story because I read it as a kid in the 70s. Now I need it badly and can't find it. I read a translation, and translation was named Invincibles or Invincible, but that may ...
42
votes
2answers
2k views

Artificial lifeform trying to establish contact through compiler bugs [duplicate]

I am looking for a short story I read online a few years ago, about artificial lifeform, with a hard sci-fi taste. A couple of software engineers were trying to identify a strange program behavior on ...
42
votes
3answers
2k views

Short story identification about a stained glass window?

There's a science fiction story in which a character is using a probability algorithm to restore a smashed stained glass window. As the story progresses, he begins to leave more and more of the pieces ...
41
votes
1answer
6k views

Short story written from alien perspective with this line: “It's too bright to look at, so they don't”

In this brief story read in the 1980s to 1990s, the narrator is an alien explorer who is describing the Earth and its inhabitants. Regarding the Sun, the alien says, "It's too bright to look at, so ...
41
votes
1answer
964 views

Man invents legalese-to-English translator

Classic sci-fi short story, can remember everything but the title. Almost certainly from the 50s or so. A guy invents a device that translates legal documents into plain English. He uses it on his ...
40
votes
1answer
4k views

Is there a calendrical error in Asimov's “The Last Trump”?

In the short story "The Last Trump" by Isaac Asimov, there is a point where one of the characters explains that the year is calculated differently by various different cultures: "Nor is that all," ...
40
votes
3answers
4k views

Need help to find a sci-fi collection I read at school (mid 80s)

I am now 46 and so it's been bugging me for over 30 years - time to try and do something about it. The collection was in my lower school library (UK). It was a thick black hardback book and I believe ...
40
votes
1answer
4k views

Short story about a teenager who has his brain replaced with a microchip (Psychological Horror)

There was a short story I read as a kid (between 2007 and 2009) about a world where people were raised from a young age with a microchip implanted in their skull which was trained over time to ...
40
votes
2answers
3k views

A story about a guy who gains admin access to the universe and starts copying things?

I'm looking for a short story that I'm positive I've read online a few years ago (possibly unpublished) about a guy who discovers that we live in a simulation and accidentally gets admin access. He ...
39
votes
3answers
4k views

So that earthquake, did you check your math?

There was a short story in one of my dad's books about a seismologist living in California who was predicting 'the big one' on the San Andreas fault, but kept arguing with the computer about the math. ...
39
votes
2answers
5k views

What short story has a man stuck in a room with books that document all his future actions?

I am looking for a sci-fi short story I read a long time ago, though I am not sure exactly when. It must be at least 8 years old, but I believe it is much older than that. Its theme is free will vs. ...
38
votes
1answer
3k views

Looking for a short story about a man who is visiting a planet where you get your position/job through playing a game

I read this story 8-15 years ago in German. I'm not sure but I think the book had 2 short, totally different stories in it. The story was about a man who was sent (I think kinda forced to go) to a ...
38
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story where diplomats eat babies who failed to meet certain standards

What is the name of this short story? A society is seeking admission to a "federation". At a state dinner it is discovered that the food is actually babies that the society recycles after the babies ...
38
votes
1answer
4k views

Old sci-fi story where the IRS sends assassins after people who don't pay their taxes?

Plot Summary The setting for this one is the U.S. in the 20th century or possibly early 21st century (as imagined from a 1970s perspective). That is to say, it's modern day or near-future from a ...
38
votes
1answer
3k views

Identify a short story involving art thieves given a device which can significantly slow time

I read this short story during the late 1980s to early 1990s in an english language collection. This story involved an art thief asked by some mysterious clients to acquire a priceless piece of art ...
38
votes
2answers
3k views

Identify a short story about post-apocalyptic household robots

Media: Short story collection When I read it: 2011 but the story itself was much older (unsure how much) so this information only serves to clarify that it is by no means new. Plot summary: A ...
38
votes
0answers
2k views

Story about enemies in a space battle sharing their last moments over com as their ships die

I am looking for the title of a short sci-fi story which I read sometime around the mid '80s. It is about a man and a woman talking through some communication system during the last moments of their ...
37
votes
2answers
4k views

Short story where a flexible reality hardens to an unchanging one

In this story, the narrator describes his day as ordinary objects change their physical properties. The floor might suddenly become fluid beneath one's foot, and you'd better get it out fast before ...
37
votes
3answers
4k views

Short story pre-1990 involving intelligent rats

I just spotted this question which reminded me of a short story with some similarities in English that I read in the late 1980s (it was reprinted in a primary school textbook as part of a ...
37
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story about an infectious indestructible metal bar?

About 15-20 years ago I read a short story (I believe as part of a collection) which as its main plot line featured a metal bar that appeared one day. A guy picked it up and threw it in the recycling....
36
votes
1answer
2k views

Short story about a group of sci-fi writers sitting around discussing their profession

A group of science fiction writers are sitting around taking turn discussing their profession, where they get their inspiration from, various things that have happened to them during their careers. ...
36
votes
1answer
5k views

Short story about astronomers accidentally ending the universe

I read a short story I believe vaguely around 2003 in a print magazine. A group of astronomers sends a laser to bounce off a planet circling Alpha Centauri or some similarly close star. But it turns ...
36
votes
1answer
1k views

What short story has a father quit his job supervising robots to live in a shack and drink coffee?

I read a short story years ago. I don't remember the title or the author, but wish that I could. It featured a family in the future- Mom, Dad, Daughter, Son, Dog. Dad works in a factory of some kind, ...
35
votes
1answer
4k views

Short story about interstellar travel gone wrong

Trying to find a story I read a couple of years ago in an anthology, not sure when the story dates from but likely to be recent - the last decade or so. The story has passengers travelling between ...
35
votes
1answer
6k views

Short story about alien invasion with a twist.

I am looking for identification of a short story I read as part of an anthology around twenty years ago, and I think it might have been written by Harry Harrison but I am not certain. Plot line goes ...
35
votes
2answers
3k views

Short Story About Population Control Gone Horribly Wrong

I'm trying to locate a short story I read 30 years ago about a public relations guy who is hired to help the government develop a program to reduce the population. He comes up with several ideas ...
34
votes
2answers
6k views

Comic book short story where a couple of robots take off their metal skin and get eaten by bugs

I've been looking for this sci-fi comic book / graphic novel for years with no luck. The book is made up of a number of short stories. These are the storylines that I remember: Two robots walk into a ...