Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

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.

34
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
33
votes
1answer
3k views

Sci fi short story where battles are faked

I remember reading a short story, somewhen in the late 90s, about an alien invasion. Earth is overwhelmed, all its ships are disintegrated, and when they are about to lose, they are told they are ...
33
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 ...
33
votes
1answer
2k views

Looking for science fiction assassination story with mysterious girl

For years I've been looking for a short science fiction story about a man who was released from a prison planet in order to assassinate a candidate for galactic president. He does this on a space ...
32
votes
2answers
5k views

Short story about a house built in 4 dimensions

I remember reading it in late 80s - early 90s. It was part of a larger collection of sci-fi short stories. The plot is about an architect who designs and builds a house for his friend in California, ...
32
votes
1answer
6k views

Story about arriving in hell and finding it empty

I read this back in the 1980s or 90s. I'm not sure if it was a story in Omni, or in an anthology. The story starts with some guy waking up in what he perceives to be Hell, but he is alone. He is burnt ...
32
votes
1answer
3k views

Main character wakes up from a suspended-animation “test” to discover that the world has fallen apart

In the short story I'm trying to recall, the main character wakes up from what was supposed to have been a test of some sort of suspended-animation technology, and was only supposed to last for a ...
31
votes
5answers
5k views

Sci fi short story or radio play of man who ends up on death row for a minor infraction…bureaucracy and obscure laws are real culprits

While traveling through Minnesota in the late-1990's I heard an old radio show rebroadcast of a sci-fi dramatization. It tells the story of bureaucracy gone horribly wrong, with the main proponent ...
31
votes
1answer
6k views

Astronauts land on planet, met by aliens impersonating their deceased relatives

When I was young, I read a chilling story of astronauts coming to an unknown planet and found to their delight the occupants were all members of their family who were deceased. Each crew member goes ...
31
votes
1answer
4k views

Short story where humans are stronger than all other aliens

I'm sure I found this on this site but can't for the life of me find the answer again. I'm looking for a science fiction story that starts off on an alien spaceship. There is a human that was ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

Spaceship crew loses piece of equipment, lies about it, causes all other spaceships to be grounded

Years ago I read a short story about a spaceship crew who were reviewing a checklist of equipment but couldn't figure out what one of the items was supposed to be (it was some sort of abbreviation). ...
31
votes
1answer
2k views

Computer makes mistake over a late library book

I'm looking for a short story about a man who forgets to return his library book. A computerised system takes over and everything goes from bad to worse. The book he did not return is 'Kidnapped' by ...
31
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story where a dying robotic war machine raises orphaned youth on a beach?

Plot Summary/Details The central theme to this one is a variation on the old trope of a protagonist having to take on the role of a surrogate parent/guardian and teacher to a youth in need of ...
31
votes
1answer
4k views

Looking for a short story about a man at a bar who thinks aliens are hiding at the edge of vision

I read a short story a dozen or so years ago in a short story collection with a yellow cover. I don't remember the title or the author, nor the collection's title or editor. The story was about a man ...
31
votes
2answers
2k views

Identification: short story about an astronaut who travels back in time to stop himself

I read a story 2 years ago about an astronaut on Earth who was preparing for his flight that will occur in 2-3 months. He wakes up and sees a guy in full astronaut suit that tries to kill him. The guy ...
30
votes
4answers
6k views

Searching this story: Invasion of tiny aliens who are destroyed by a single footstep

I'm looking for the name and author of the story about an alien race that wants to invade Earth, with a lot of weapons and an immense army. It seems the Earth is doomed. The ending, however, is very ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

Science-fiction short story where space navy wanted hospital ships and settlers had guns mounted everywhere [duplicate]

I remember reading a short story where the official space navy of the “Golden Empire” would only fight if hospital ships were close by, so they could be picked up and treated. They had to defend their ...
30
votes
1answer
4k views

Story Id: Drunk engineer creates inertia-winder from spare parts in his garage

I remember reading this sometime late 80's early 90's. I'm almost certain it was a short story. I read it in English, in Ireland, but it was almost certainly an American author. It could have been ...
30
votes
1answer
9k views

A short story of a guy on a strange alien planet

A long time ago I read a short novel (can't remember the actual length, but not likely that it was more than 100 pages long) about a human astronaut on some sort of mission who landed on an alien ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Short story where humans on a colony ship from Earth are overtaken by advanced Earthlings?

I read this story some time around 2001-2005 or so. I believe I read it online, however it was certainly of the variety that could be found in an anthology. I don’t remember many details other than ...
29
votes
2answers
2k views

Short story about a moon of Mars whose orbit is only a few feet up

A spaceship arrives on Mars and begins exploring. The crew notices a shallow semicircular trench that runs arrow-straight across the landscape, turning into a complete circle and boring right through ...
29
votes
1answer
5k views

Short story where God has died, and the Devil offers to keep Heaven “in business”?

Plot Details/Summary The story opens in Hell, with the Devil having just been visited by an angel messenger who told him God was dead (no, it wasn't Nietzsche). The Devil did not believe the news, ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Explanation of this quote “it took man six thousand years really to discover science”?

The quote is from Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God", 1941, and in full is: It took man six thousand years really to discover science, three hundred to put it to work. It took Kidder's creatures ...
29
votes
1answer
4k views

Short story with spaceship and humanity not realising they should be on it

The plot is about: A spaceship travelling through the universe Earth is a rogue planet whose inhabitants have been cut off and don't realise that their true purpose is to be part of the spaceship ...
29
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story where the Earth has been kept inside a force field for millennia

First we are told that the Galactic Empire/Federation/Powers-that-be have kept the Earth locked up for being too warlike, but now their help is needed against invaders from another galaxy. When the ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

Short story where a box contains a miniature version of the Earth

I read this in the early 80's but it could have been written in the 50's or 60's. A man (boy?) finds a small box, peers into it and sees a miniature version of the earth. Curious, he peers into it ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

Old story where aliens sell humans some machines to heal anything, and then disappear with their loot before we realize we've been scammed

I remember the story fairly well; I've just forgotten the title. (And the author.) I have the impression that the story goes way, way back to the 1950s, but that may be inaccurate. I first read it in ...
29
votes
1answer
3k views

Short Science Fiction story, told in a series of letters

This was a short story told in a series of letters. The protagonist starts by writing a letter to a utility company about an error in his bill. By the last letter he is on death row trying to get ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

Short story where Earth was created as an elementary school science project

When I was 10, in the mid-to-late-1980s, I had a collection of short stories that was edited by Asimov. The one I'm interested in was the story of the creation of Earth told as though it was a school ...
29
votes
1answer
1k views

Short story in which candidates for political office act as deities to tiny, synthetic creatures

I'm looking for a short story, probably from the mid '60s to mid '70s, in which two candidates, possibly senators running for president, undergo a public test of how well they perform as leaders by ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

Short story about Tibetan monks who want to know the name of God?

I can't remember the title or the author of the following story: Some Tibetan monks want to know the name of God. They buy a supercomputer in order to calculate the name. Then...
28
votes
1answer
4k views

Short story about a scientist trying to prove faster-than-light travel with a billiard ball

A short story about a scientist trying to prove faster than light travel. He uses a billiard ball for the demonstration. It works but the billiard ball passes through a rival scientist, killing said ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

50s-60s short story: implanted knowledge, except for the protagonist who has to solve his issues the usual way

There was a short story from back in the 50s or 60s, about a student who was struggling in school. Just about everyone else had knowledge downloaded/implanted into their brains. But the protagonist ...
28
votes
1answer
3k views

Robots on planet with no humans until a rocket with a human lands

I'm hoping someone will recognize this short story. It involves a culture of robots on a planet, and the story is told from the perspective of one of them. One day a rocket lands. The robots, ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

Astronaut is freed from mind parasite when he leaves Earth's gravity well

In the late 90s I read a short story (probably written much earlier) in which an astronaut on a mission to Mars is surprised to discover that he has spent his whole life with an invisible and ...
28
votes
1answer
3k views

Looking for a short story about a man eating a sandwich who calmly reacts to an alien appearing

It's about a man sitting in his room reading a book while eating a sandwich, when a being from another dimension materialises in front of him and engages him in conversation. I cannot remember what ...
28
votes
1answer
2k views

Scientist discovers hyperspace with a twist

I believe the setting is an Earth that desperately needs transportation to the stars (overpopulation?) A scientist discovers hyperspace (I believe he solves a theory that explains how to reach it, ...
28
votes
1answer
1k views

Short story; war where speed of time changes with distance from front line

Trying to remember a short story (most likely from the sixties). It starts with a soldier at the front line fighting an unknown enemy on the other side of the front line. He then gets withdrawn and ...
28
votes
1answer
1k views

A dystopian short story where children are raised to be murdered

I read a short story 1-2 years ago and I don't know the title/author. The story was online, possibly at Longform, although it does not appear to be there. I don't recall if the story itself was new or ...
28
votes
1answer
747 views

Help me identify a story about humanity trading itself to giant squids for food

I'm trying to remember a few stories that I read back in High School (in the USA, English-language), so this is pre-1993, likely older than that. The first story was a short story, most likely from ...
28
votes
2answers
2k views

Short story about a conversation between a comet and the Earth

This is a story I read during the 90's but the actual story might be older. I don't remember the title nor the author but remember a good deal of the plot. It started with the Earth and the Moon ...
28
votes
1answer
542 views

Short story about a vast, telepathic, amoeba-like creature that covers an entire planet

This was a short story or novella I read in the 1980s when I was a teenager. I read this in the United States. I'm guessing the story was written in the 1970s. I think I read this as part of a ...
28
votes
1answer
894 views

Short story about aliens warning humanity not to leave Earth

I was reading an answer on Quora and it referenced a story. The answer went like this: Humans were contacted by aliens out in the Oort Cloud and told never to come farther. It wasn’t, they told the ...
28
votes
0answers
997 views

Woman who discovers her beautiful lover is a surrogate body of a disfigured man

I'm trying to find the author/title of a story. Jan is an austere woman living a dull and predictable life in a time with no monetary transactions, but "credits" rather. She has saved up a ...
27
votes
1answer
4k views

Fantasy story circa 60s about a sheltered vegetarian boy who visits a slaughter house with dire results

The boy's parents die when he is a baby and he is raised by his vegetarian grandmother in an isolated rural setting. She teaches him to cook, but dies without teaching him about the dangers of life ...
27
votes
1answer
4k views

Old science fiction story with an alien creature tapping Planck's constant

About 50 years ago, I read a science fiction story in a "year's best" anthology. As I remember it, a guy was visiting a small moon and ran into a scary giant spider-like creature. He fired a shot, ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

Identify a short story where a young boy is time-shifted several minutes into the future

Please help me identify this short story of speculative fiction about time travel (or maybe more accurately, time shifting) which I read some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I may have some of ...
27
votes
1answer
3k views

Short story where the Devil goes to a Physics professor for help?

This is a short story I read in an anthology 3-4 years ago. But I get the feeling it was much older than that. In the story, the Devil in the form of a shy young man comes to meet a Physics ...
27
votes
1answer
957 views

Seeking story about time travel used to steal from the future

I'm looking for a short story that I read in an anthology. In it, I think the theory was that you could time travel, but could never take anything that would be missed. As in, if you went to the ...
27
votes
1answer
874 views

One person constructs a building, another tears it down, unaware of each other

I heard a synopsis of this story in the early 2000s. The story is set on a different world, one that has two suns. The suns may have been of different colour. While the first sun is up, the people ...