Questions tagged [short-stories]

For about a fictional work too small to be called a [novel] or [novella] - usually less than 10-20 thousand words and no chapters. Use to either identify the media on a [story-identification] question or disambiguate works where the tag covers the short story and its form in other media.. If you are looking for a particular anthology of short stories, use the [anthology-book] tag instead.

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56 votes
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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 ...
44 votes
0 answers
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 ...
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33 votes
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A space story about a desert planet and a cup of water

I read this story over 15 years ago. It is probably a lot older. I read it in Serbian magazine (Politikin Zabavnik) but I think that the language of the original is in English. It's a short story, ...
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31 votes
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298 views

Short story where the stars are eyes

A short story I read several years ago in either Analog or Asimov's Science Fiction, probably between 2011 and 2013. In the story there's a 4th spatial dimension whose axes are skew, so that things ...
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31 votes
0 answers
590 views

Short story about a man in a madhouse who asks the guard for a cigarette and tells him his story about having swapped bodies before

I am searching for a short story about a man locked in a madhouse who swaps his body with the guard/doctor while he tells him the story about his own body being swapped. I remember the following: ...
27 votes
0 answers
426 views

A story about a doctor who travels to a parallel universe to seek a cure for bubonic plague

Recent news has been reminding me of various things I've read about the Black Death, including a story I believe I only saw once, and never stumbled across again. I encountered it over 30 years ago, ...
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27 votes
0 answers
473 views

Short story about an elite that has mentally regressed due to assistive AI technologies

I came upon a comment describing a scifi short story where reliance on technology meant to improve appearance and demeanor has led to mental regression and AI control of the upper class that employs ...
27 votes
0 answers
659 views

SciFi Short Story about an immortal man digging through an asteroid to meet a woman

Short story from the 80's or 90's, I saw someone asking about this on another forum but never got an answer. I've been curious ever since. The story is set in a decadent future where everyone lives ...
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26 votes
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699 views

70s book/short story, Man wakes up from suspend animation or cryo and world has collapsed

In the book, the protagonist wakes up from either suspended animation or cryo (Probably supposed to be a short test), After 10-20 years have passed. He finds the facility abandoned (and looted?), ...
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26 votes
0 answers
1k views

Old sci-fi short story about buying an android?

Long, long time ago I came upon a collection of old (pre 1980s?) short sci-fi stories. I'm not 100% sure, but something makes me think they were by Russian authors. One of them was about a woman, who ...
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24 votes
0 answers
387 views

Aliens secretly use video game to get humans to solve their problems

I recall a story probably 20-30 years ago (pretty sure it was a short story) in which a top gamer hears about a new computer game out that no one can beat. So he gets it and starts playing it. (Pretty ...
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23 votes
0 answers
564 views

Short story where scientist flees to the ancient past, tries to stop scientific progress to keep man "pure"?

Plot Summary/Details I can only recall the broad theme and a few details on this one. The protagonist, who was a scientist of some sort, has fled his own time to return to man's early period. I'm ...
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21 votes
0 answers
312 views

Short story about a giant ship that thoughtlessly destroys planets as it travels, is visited by a victim

I think I came across this ten or fifteen years ago, I cannot remember much clearly so some of these details may be mistaken. The story is told from the perspective of a crew member, on the bridge I ...
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21 votes
0 answers
568 views

Short story: Lost starship crew in suspended animation trying to return to Earth. Crew suicide a factor

Read a sci-fi anthology sometime in the 1980s, though the story feels like it's from the 50s or 60s. An all-male starship crew is trying to return to Earth after performing some mission, but they're ...
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21 votes
0 answers
473 views

Short story involving a lost-tech green glass highway in Australia

My mom's been wondering if I could find this story but I really can't without more specific details than she can give me. It's rather old, she guessed somewhere in the 1960s or 70s. The story wasn't ...
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20 votes
1 answer
977 views

Identify short story in which invention of music redeems humanity from alien death sentence

A small mission of harmless-looking little aliens comes to Earth to observe the place before destroying mankind. These folks have no music of their own but when they are exposed to ours, they love it. ...
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19 votes
0 answers
782 views

Short story about a boy who makes a virtual girl and updates her A.I as he grows up

I am searching a free short story I found about 5 years ago on some book app on my tablet. Basically in the story, this young boy got a computer (sometime during the 80s I believe) that had just ...
18 votes
0 answers
254 views

Alien deduces everything about human Earth culture (including English language) from only a wardrobe & a coat hanger with the name of a cleaners on it

I think it's a short story. I probably read it in the 1970s. Somehow an alien finds a wardrobe containing one wire coat hanger that has a paper cover on it with the name of a dry-cleaning business. ...
18 votes
1 answer
898 views

Boy playing ball has to run inside to avoid a hail of diamonds

I read this in a collection of sci-fi short stories when I was in elementary school, so circa mid-to-late 1980s. It might have been published by Scholastic. It's a very short story. It may have been ...
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17 votes
0 answers
359 views

Weird Galaxy/IF Short Story

I am almost positive this short story appeared in either Galaxy, IF, or Worlds of Tomorrow in the late 1960s or early 1970s. The MC is an alien with three(?) legs and a bell-like head with a circle of ...
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17 votes
0 answers
200 views

Short story where aliens visit Tranquillity Base and take the discarded backpacks for their space museum

I'm looking for the title of a story in which aliens have visited Tranquillity Base and have taken the discarded backpacks used by Armstrong and Aldrin for their space museum. The story is told in a ...
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17 votes
0 answers
550 views

Short story with a computer that saves only relevant information of peoples life stories

Please help me find a short story my uncle read in his youth. When my uncle was in his teens or a young adult he read a story that had profound impact on him and defined his life (he founded a company ...
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17 votes
1 answer
903 views

Story about monks who are keepers of English language?

In the 1960s/early 1970s, I read a lot of science fiction short stories and anthologies from Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. One of the stories was about an interview for an order of ...
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16 votes
0 answers
360 views

Short story about a man who receives a floppy disk with a program that can answer any question

I read this in the mid 1990's. It was a short story set in contemporary time (the era it was written), about a man who received a package in the mail that just contained a floppy disk. The program on ...
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16 votes
0 answers
471 views

Short story about colonist ship's computer deliberately "weeding out" unfit colonists during hypersleep?

Plot Details/Summary This is going to be another of my longshot questions, as I only remember a few details about the story. The entire story takes place aboard an interstellar colony ship, and ...
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16 votes
0 answers
319 views

Super sophisticated AI spacecraft autopilot saves the day

Looking for the title of this rather excellent sci-fi short story... Human spacecraft approaches alien planet Humans piloting the spacecraft about to do something inappropriate, given apparent ...
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16 votes
1 answer
439 views

Lessons designed for the average man work extraordinarily well

This is a short story I read a long time ago, almost certainly before 2000 and likely before 1990. I don't recall if it was in a magazine or in a book/anthology. It was probably published a decade ...
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15 votes
0 answers
145 views

Sci fi short story about a man who lives with pig creatures on an alien planet

I read a story a long time ago that always stuck in my mind. It's probably from the 50s-70s. I have tried to remember it fairly accurately but details may be wrong. A man (crash?) lands on a distant ...
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15 votes
0 answers
123 views

Looking for a short story about a 'homecoming' song from an anthology published pre-1990

This is a short story dating back to the 1980s or earlier - I read it in my school library in the late 80s/very early 90s. It's about a world in which underdeveloped planets were forced to hand over ...
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15 votes
0 answers
357 views

SF Short Story - Robots Carry On

I read this short story in the 1960s, although it may have been published earlier. English language, American or British author. Two men, strangers, are talking in an office; one carries a cane. There ...
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15 votes
0 answers
274 views

Lost novella or short story: Either uplifted or evolved animals finally break through a barrier to discover that the humans have left Earth

The protagonist, possibly an uplifted or naturally evolved bear is in charge of a project to breach a barrier. This has kept all intelligent species from leaving the area. They eventually break ...
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15 votes
0 answers
446 views

Short story where a scientist discovers all the secrets of the universe as he is dying

I read this story around 3 years ago, but it might have been written much earlier. The premise of the story is this: A scientist has spent his whole life researching some aspect of the universe but ...
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14 votes
0 answers
269 views

A short story about a fax machine that receives messages from the future

I am sure I did read in the 80s, in our local library (it doesn't exist anymore by the way), a science fiction short story about an electrician that invented a fax machine that started to receive ...
14 votes
0 answers
226 views

Post apocalyptic short story

When I was in grade 10 back in 1990-1991 in Ontario Canada, there was a short story that we read that as I took place in the aftermath of some catastrophe (nuclear war I think). (I know it is not the ...
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14 votes
0 answers
163 views

Short story where you had quotas for daily activities allowed to be done by yourself instead of hiring professionals

I'm trying to find the short story where due to shortage of jobs, people were not allowed to do most things by themselves, but instead were forced to hire professionals. Everybody had daily quotas for ...
14 votes
0 answers
175 views

Pre late-80s UK-based short horror story. Giant alien shapeshifters imitate a house and a uk phone box to trap and devour the young protagonist

General This UK-based short story was from a horror or SciFi compilation I read during the late 80s/early 90s (but was almost definitely from earlier). I have a feeling the compilation was probably ...
14 votes
0 answers
194 views

70s (or earlier) story about human evolution (devolution) and conflict between human species

I recall a rather grim short story/novelette read during my teens (early to mid 1970's) from either a magazine or anthology, so could be written prior to 1970. The setting was either future Earth or ...
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14 votes
0 answers
114 views

Our hero hems and haws and finally decides to summon the fleet to help his new alien buddies

I read this story some time around 2000. It wasn't brand new when I read it, but I think it was close. It was in a collection of sci fi short stories, and it was by a relative unknown; the central ...
13 votes
0 answers
362 views

Trying to Identify short story with teleportation where the original is copied and secretly killed

Science fiction short story (~15 pages) from 60s-70s ish time period where teleportation is possible. To teleport, a person is given what they think is a sedative (to keep them from moving during ...
13 votes
0 answers
157 views

Sci-fi book or short story about people who crash-land on an alien world. The protagonist is captured by a hive of intelligent insects

This book from my teenage years I just can't get out of my mind for many years now, and sooo want to reread! It involved a travelling spaceship full of a few key characters - a male and a villain (I ...
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13 votes
0 answers
140 views

Old sci fi (1980s or earlier) short story about androids sold as 'the perfect son in law' or 'the perfect housewife'

I have this memory of a short story I read as a child at school in the late 80s/early 90s. The story was written in the form of a catalogue, advertising these androids and talking about which model ...
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13 votes
0 answers
226 views

Short story, protagonist afraid of sea; sea is an eldritch abomination hivemind, he is its drone trying to break free

A man who once nearly drowned has extreme thalassophobia and fear of the dark; in fact he conceptualizes the sea as The Dark, and he believes that it is 1) out to get him and 2) able to access all ...
13 votes
0 answers
149 views

Short story about moth aliens invading Earth; a human soldier tries to blow up an alien hive but is transformed

Decades ago (this was in the late 1990s-before 2004, but most likely written much earlier), in some science fiction anthology or other, I remember reading a short story in which moth-aliens took over ...
13 votes
0 answers
157 views

Story where people sacrifice themselves like human candles as the sun comes near

I'm trying to track down a story which I think was published in the last ten years (feels like less) which I think I read in Interzone, but I can't find it in my collection. I guess I could've read it ...
13 votes
0 answers
222 views

What was this short story about competing light bulb salesmen?

This is a short story I read in a collection. I'm wanting to say it was a "Year's Best Scifi & Fantasy Short Stories" or something like that from some time in the 2000 to 2015 range, but ...
13 votes
0 answers
81 views

SF-Fantasy short story collection themed around the Yoruba smith god Ogun

As per the title, I am looking for a short-story collection of SF, Fantasy, and whatever else might fall in between. I cannot recall what the book looked like, nor its length, nor if it was a recent ...
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13 votes
0 answers
225 views

Short story about two spaceships moving in opposite directions

I'm looking for a sci fi short story: It is told in a slightly surreal dreamscape kind of way. Two identical spaceships are headed in opposite directions, each carrying a solitary person one of ...
  • 131
13 votes
0 answers
189 views

In ancient times various alien "gods" cause/feed on worship. Traveler & girl must hide object that threatens gods, fortunately lose it in the desert

This was an English language short story/novella I read around 2000-2010. I believe it was in some anthology, but possibly it was in a SF/fantasy magazine like F&SF that I read it. It may well ...
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13 votes
0 answers
176 views

SF short story about an immortal man as he grieves for dead partner, becomes a mercenary, meets ageless artificial intelligence

I only remember some elements and only hazily - nothing of the ending. An internet link took me to the story, I read it online, but it wasn't dated so I don't know which era it's from. I, however, ...
13 votes
0 answers
276 views

Short story about an angel killing a man so he doesn't commit suicide and go to hell

I recently remembered a short story I read a very long time ago; maybe 7 years ago or more. It was given to us by our teacher so I don’t know where it comes from. In the story a man is thinking ...
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