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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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375 votes
1 answer
25k 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 ...
zompz's user avatar
  • 4,197
137 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
Howard M. Lewis Ship's user avatar
87 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
HugoRune's user avatar
  • 3,229
84 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
tardigrade's user avatar
  • 3,208
77 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
David Hall's user avatar
76 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 723
75 votes
1 answer
16k views

Soviet statistician deduces the existence of parasites feeding on the human race

This short story would obviously have been written no later than the 1980s, though in my recollection the style was more reminiscent of the 1950s or early 1960s. Darker than a typical Asimov, but ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
69 votes
1 answer
9k 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 ...
Bert's user avatar
  • 613
67 votes
1 answer
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 ...
user30884's user avatar
  • 773
64 votes
1 answer
5k views

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

I remember this being a part of a collection of short stories. It's probably fairly old. Unfortunately, I don't remember much else about it. I've already searched Wikipedia's list of time travel ...
awalmartbag's user avatar
  • 1,093
64 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
kenku_naku's user avatar
58 votes
3 answers
29k 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 ...
Secespitus's user avatar
  • 3,501
58 votes
1 answer
6k 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 ...
SethMMorton's user avatar
  • 3,214
58 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
user31373's user avatar
  • 891
58 votes
1 answer
7k views

Story in which a stranded astronaut is saved by a golden humanoid, and later realizes that it could have killed him

I came across this comment on the internet, unfortunately much too old for me to respond to to find more information or ask if they'd gotten an answer. Nonetheless, their description intrigued me and ...
Morgan Patch's user avatar
54 votes
1 answer
8k views

Old story about two cultures living in the same city, but they are psychologically blind to each other's existence

I'm trying to identify a story that I first read in an anthology in the mid-1980s. Checked it out from a library in Indiana. I have a very vague idea that this story might have been credited to Gordon ...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 27.4k
53 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
S.R.M.'s user avatar
  • 413
52 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Helbent IV's user avatar
  • 13.5k
52 votes
1 answer
4k 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....
Canadian Girl Scout's user avatar
52 votes
0 answers
3k 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 ...
Dovid's user avatar
  • 621
50 votes
3 answers
14k views

Short story about humanity sending out (radio waves) signals and being answered with a warning

The story is quite simple: humanity has been sending out communications via radio waves (possibly) into the depths of space, and after some time of searching, they eventually receive a response from ...
fez's user avatar
  • 17.6k
50 votes
3 answers
7k 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, ...
Krit's user avatar
  • 773
49 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
Cherie's user avatar
  • 401
49 votes
3 answers
6k views

Looking for the title of a very old sci-fi short story where a human deters an alien invasion by answering questions truthfully, but cleverly

Plot Summary/Details I don't recall all that much beyond the basic plot. A human being is taken captive by a group of aliens and questioned. I believe it takes place on Earth and the aliens are a ...
Helbent IV's user avatar
  • 13.5k
49 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Lorendiac's user avatar
  • 27.4k
48 votes
1 answer
5k views

Funny story about galactic postal union?

I vaguely remember a story in which some New York businessman was noticing that he was getting mail from Hong Kong faster than from New Jersey, so he posted a letter to the Postmaster General of Alpha ...
Jeff Dege's user avatar
  • 2,378
48 votes
1 answer
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 (...
James from NZ's user avatar
48 votes
1 answer
2k 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, ...
Broklynite's user avatar
  • 22.8k
48 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
Jorge Castro's user avatar
  • 2,906
47 votes
1 answer
6k 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 ...
Geklmintendon't of Awesome's user avatar
47 votes
1 answer
11k 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 ...
Broklynite's user avatar
  • 22.8k
46 votes
2 answers
5k views

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

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 ...
user68405's user avatar
  • 563
46 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Don's user avatar
  • 563
44 votes
2 answers
7k 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, ...
Chahk's user avatar
  • 3,250
44 votes
1 answer
5k 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 ...
Blaženko Karešin's user avatar
44 votes
1 answer
4k views

Short story about office mate's exotic vacations where the colleagues fake a Martian holiday and he goes on it for real

I read this story before 1985, and it had a kind of 1960s-1970s setting. A very ordinary office worker would take a vacation every few months to exotic locales like Tahiti or Tibet, showing off ...
scottef's user avatar
  • 543
44 votes
1 answer
5k views

Short story about a potato hotel that makes its guests into potatoes throughout the night

A man travels to another state to visit some agricultural museum. Upon arrival it is quite late so he ends up at an old family owned inn. While looking around, it seems quite decent and he decides to ...
Advay's user avatar
  • 421
44 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Nicolas Le Gland's user avatar
43 votes
4 answers
12k views

Man wakes up too soon and scene isn't set [duplicate]

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 ...
ozinor's user avatar
  • 409
43 votes
1 answer
7k views

A hilarious story where "Cyclists" does not mean what you think

This short fiction (short story or maybe novelette) could only have been written by a woman. I read it more than 10 years ago in a collection, but it is probably much older than that. A middle age ...
Alfred's user avatar
  • 19.4k
43 votes
1 answer
3k views

Science fiction story where a human is searching for immortality and meets an alien that has been searching for thousands of years

I'm trying to identify a science fiction short story I read long ago (I'm 71). The story goes like this: A human is waiting at a spaceport for his flight to leave. He has been going all around the ...
SimonT's user avatar
  • 522
42 votes
1 answer
7k views

Short story where a scientist regrets curing the common cold

I read this in the 1980s, though it might have been published much earlier (I had a huge stack of paperbacks from an older cousin). Basically, the scientist protagonist (plus maybe a collaborator) ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
42 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
Ghoti and Chips's user avatar
42 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
VBartilucci's user avatar
  • 13.4k
42 votes
3 answers
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 ...
cjc's user avatar
  • 773
41 votes
1 answer
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," ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 44.9k
41 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Invisible Trihedron's user avatar
41 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
C McLean's user avatar
  • 421
41 votes
1 answer
5k 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 ...
Helbent IV's user avatar
  • 13.5k
41 votes
2 answers
6k 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. ...
Eldergias's user avatar
  • 631

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