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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9 votes
1 answer
611 views

Short story I read years ago (1971?) about a planet of machines that find a stray American astronaut

The machines are speaking to the astronaut inside the capsule. However, they think they are speaking to the capsule because they had never seen a human before. When they try to open it up, they ...
12 votes
0 answers
215 views

Sci-fi story about an astronaut rafting down a river in a primeval forest

A few days ago, while cleaning up my library to donate some books to Goodwill, I found a piece of paper in one of the shelves with the word "SEHRALT". Then I remember that I have taken that ...
7 votes
1 answer
106 views

urban fantasy short with imps set in London

I remember reading this in an anthology around 2000. Setting was London, and the main character was an older gentleman with a sword cane who was a magician. He could see imps darting around electrical ...
18 votes
1 answer
208 views

Memory recorded at party installed in android body

I read this funny short story a long while ago probably 1980s. It stuck in my mind. A weedy man goes to a house party. One of the other guests has brought a machine he invented which, he claims, takes ...
  • 4,684
18 votes
1 answer
1k views

Short story about a group marching through a tunnel lined with portals, with each individual seeking the specific portal that leads to their "home"

The story involves a group of disparate individuals, self-formed as a quasi-military unit, marching through a long, curved tunnel from portal to portal, each portal a fixed number of klicks down the ...
  • 191
7 votes
0 answers
141 views

Short story about an uploaded consciousness running traffic signals

This story would have originally appeared in either Analog or Asimov's in the late 1980s to early 1990s. The viewpoint character is a human being whose uploaded consciousness has to work a number of ...
  • 71
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Short story about a man who runs into his wife from the past?

I remember reading a story where a man lives in a small cabin outside of town. One day, a young woman approaches him and he realizes it’s his wife, only much younger. She asks him for directions and ...
  • 147
18 votes
2 answers
896 views

Visitor learns news-telling profession to warn planet of impending disaster

After seeing the trailer for the new film 'Don't Look Up' I was reminded of this short story I read many years ago (1980s?) Astronomers realize some cosmic disaster is going to hit an inhabited planet....
  • 4,684
24 votes
1 answer
2k views

Scientists send a nuclear bomb to Mars (to study the plume by spectroscopy) but destroy the unique martian populated area

I used to believe that this story was part of The Martian Chronicles but it is not. I would love to find the author/title. Sounds a bit like Fredric Brown's ideas.
11 votes
0 answers
54 views

Alien rite, teens tied in trees [duplicate]

After a family discussion we've thought of another memorable but unidentified old short story. Some astronauts land on a shrubby planet where there are humanoid people with a simple civilization, ...
  • 4,684
11 votes
1 answer
496 views

Two astronauts, one heroic, one pathetic

Read this story story while still at school in late 70s, I believe. There's a little twist to the end of this story. Two astronauts, the captain and the first person POV character, have arrived on a ...
  • 4,684
9 votes
1 answer
132 views

Man investigates mind swap, becomes dog [duplicate]

Read this probably in 1980s in a short story anthology. It starts with a series of catatonic down-and-outs in hospital. The hero is, I think, a reporter who answers an ad from a shady organisation ...
  • 4,684
5 votes
0 answers
133 views

Short story about a cop who chases criminals in a dystopia where everyone is perfect at their job

Read at least ten years ago in an anthology, possibly Writers of the Future, but no idea which issue/edition. Everyone in the story is too good at their jobs, and so work is sort of hard to find, so ...
  • 113
6 votes
1 answer
195 views

Short story about an old rich man getting a younger body, but then the old body wants to be the one to live on

I very vividly remember this story and I usually read pretty mainstream sci-fi stuff, so I immediately thought of some like, Asimov story. But it's probably from some obscure story collection I picked ...
  • 63
17 votes
1 answer
1k views

Short story (from early 1970s at latest) about a telepath who finds his ability an affliction

The story is told in the first person. The telepath finds his ability more an affliction than a gift, because he finds people can be overwhelming. He yearns to meet another telepath, hoping at least ...
  • 1,523
22 votes
1 answer
1k views

Seeking a Pulp Story: Trapped on a moon, beer keg propulsion used to escape

Many moons ago I came across a web page that discussed portrayals of propulsion in sf stories and the science (or lack of it). One story mentioned in passing was about a man trapped on a moon and ...
22 votes
1 answer
2k views

Funny teleporter invention story

I remember this short story as very funny. It was told in retrospect in the first person by a member of a fairly slap-happy team of inventors developing a new teleportation device. Initially, there ...
  • 4,684
6 votes
0 answers
146 views

Old sci-fi or fantasy short story about a purple chemical (maybe in the rain) falling from the sky

Looking for a short story for a friend. They're not sure what the plot is, but my friend is looking for an old sci-fi story about a purple chemical (maybe in the rain) falling from the sky. The ...
  • 61
10 votes
1 answer
269 views

Analog story, 1980s, Crisis at facility that uses rotational motion for storing energy

This is a story almost certainly from Analog, circa 1980 or so. To balance supply and demand, surplus energy is stored as rotational energy - a large cart rotates on the inside of a hemispherical dome,...
  • 16k
8 votes
0 answers
218 views

Telepathy broadcaster sends message about how to block telepathy

Short story probably from pre-1985, probably originally published in Analog. A group builds a machine that will be able to broadcast telepathic messages to everyone in the world. They realize that ...
  • 16k
6 votes
0 answers
86 views

Sentient tapeworm takes over father's mind?

I'm looking for a short story where a youngish person is sent on a galactic mission by their father, whose body is being taken over by a kind of "super tapeworm". I would have read it in F&...
12 votes
1 answer
194 views

Sci-fi short story about a scientist frustrated with the pace of life, who releases a virus that renders caffeine ineffective

Last read this maybe 10 to 15 years ago. Parts of the plot include civilisation slowly falling apart after caffeine stops working, the protagonist eventually figures out a counteragent that makes ...
10 votes
1 answer
213 views

Short Story: faked 'unmanned' mission to Mars

I read this short story probably in the 1990s or early 2000s, but I think the story was "old" even then. It may have been in an anthology. It's comedy/farce. NASA (probably?) has a mission ...
15 votes
1 answer
631 views

Man rebels against a conformist society, turns into unicorn

I read this short story I think as a student c. 1980s. Most of the stuff I read then were older anthologies from second-hand shops and bargain bins. A man lives in a house which is identical to every ...
  • 4,684
22 votes
1 answer
2k views

Story about spacecraft crew losing consciousness as they get farther from Earth

I'm trying to recall a sci-fi short story that I once read, about a spacecraft that's attempting to travel farther from Earth than anyone ever has before. As it gets farther away, the crew start to ...
  • 5,584
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Looking for a story about language rapidly evolving

I remember reading a story (I thought from Asimov) about a language evolving so rapidly that a foreigner who was trying to write a grammar could not keep the pace. Anybody knows it?
11 votes
0 answers
109 views

Science fiction short story about an old man who builds a time machine to tell his deceased father goodbye before he himself dies

From a Reddit discussion several years ago concerning the most creative use of time travel, a user named punkwalrus posted the following: A short story from a SF&F literary magazine long out of ...
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7 votes
1 answer
307 views

What short story has a robot nanny who needed to be replaced, and a plot twist?

Around 2014 I read a short story collection (and the momory of it now just popped in my head) containing a story about a broken nanny robot who needed to be replaced. The plot twist of the story was ...
  • 79
7 votes
1 answer
224 views

I'm looking for a dystopian short story called "Same"

In this story everyone had the exact same schedule everyone had the exact same house and car, it was so similar that you could use any car or any house, no one had any possessions. they watched tv at ...
8 votes
1 answer
190 views

Immortality Injection Short Story?

I've been desperately trying to remember the name of this short story I read in high school, almost 10 years ago. The premise was there was a "cure" for death, and a bunch of parents were ...
6 votes
0 answers
119 views

Short story where an Asian soldier's DNA is used as a biological weapon

Years ago I read a short story whose plot basically went like this: An Asian man's DNA was used to create a biological weapon. The weapon was dropped in bombs or pods into an enemy country and ...
7 votes
0 answers
171 views

1970s/1980s short story; aliens' emotions are visible in colours on their chest

I assume it was originally 1970s - I think would have read it around 1981-3 - I was about 7, and its nearly 40 years ago, so apologies for the incredible vagueness. I think it was a short story, ...
6 votes
0 answers
110 views

New Wave-ish story, Experimental school taken over by children, teacher forced to write memoirs repeatedly on chalkboard

I read this story in a science fiction anthology in the 1980s, but it's probably from the 1970s. A female teacher at an experimental boarding school (a school where children are strongly discouraged ...
  • 16k
18 votes
1 answer
1k views

Story ID: Oil well fire techniques used against space warp

This was a short story in an anthology. I read it in the 1970s in a hardback copy checked out of a library. At that time, I was reading many SF anthologies, such as the Spectrum series, the various ...
  • 2,584
12 votes
1 answer
710 views

Science fiction short story about children on a beach stranded in time in perpetual twilight

I read this in a sci-fi magazine in the late 1970s/early 1980s, though it might have been published earlier. The protagonist is an artist who accidentally wanders onto a beach stranded in time that ...
  • 131
11 votes
1 answer
452 views

Short story about decoding pre-Edison music recordings found in an attic in Paris

I'm pretty sure it was an Australian author. My first guess was Sean Williams, second guess Greg Egan, but I cannot recognise the story in their bibliographies. Most likely published in the 1990s. I ...
  • 1,773
11 votes
0 answers
190 views

Probability distributed man in bar

This is a short story I read years ago and only remember hazily. Still I'm often reminded of it whenever a see a guy in a film propping up the end of a bar. I must have read it while at college ...
  • 4,684
25 votes
1 answer
2k views

Paraplegic who becomes a centaur

The film Avatar reminded me if this short story which I read, I think, in anthology from my school library in sixth form, c.1978/9. It was probably fairly old then most of their stuff was. A ...
  • 4,684
22 votes
2 answers
4k views

Story about a traffic jam that lasts many days

I once read a short story in an anthology about someone traveling by car, then gets stuck in a traffic jam. There is no obvious reason for the traffic jam, and there are no reports in the radio about ...
  • 589
1 vote
1 answer
260 views

book about self replicating crablike robots who invade North America

I am looking for a book I got from Fictionwise about self replicating crablike robots who invade North America. A NASA scientist has been working on a crab like rover for mars and uses it to battle ...
  • 19
11 votes
1 answer
265 views

Short story about murder investigation featuring virtual reality

I am trying to find a sci-fi short story I read in early 2010s. The story took place in a futuristic setting on Earth, where highly realistic virtual reality was developed. People could connect into ...
  • 887
4 votes
0 answers
108 views

Story about a girl with a tattoo/symbol on her wrist that is deadly to enemies that touch it

I seem to remember reading this story in a compilation of short YA stories, but it could have been an excerpt from a novel (i.e. basically a promotion of other novels). I seem to remember there were ...
12 votes
0 answers
171 views

Short story where explorers searching the universe for Earth discover that humanity was wiped out by war

I’ve been trying to find this short story for ages. I read it in a sci-fi anthology collection in 2005; it had a red/orange cover, and was definitely an older book, probably from the '60s. I don’t ...
  • 121
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Short story (or opening chapter of a novel) where a fat man's body is used as a makeshift spaceship

Sci-fi short story (or maybe opening chapter of a novel?) which was read in the late '90s, but could have been written long before that. The plot involved a ship crewed by four men, two of whom being ...
16 votes
1 answer
465 views

Short story about alien creatures fleeing their home planet to terraform another

I read this many years ago in a collection of sci-fi stories - almost certainly Silverberg & Greenberg's Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century. An cat-like alien race decides to terraform an ...
  • 263
27 votes
1 answer
1k views

Newly formed AI helps people with strange problems via a phone booth

It was a short story, I don't remember where I read it but most likely before Internet was a thing, so a paper periodical. An AI develops over the phone network, and starts answering questions posed ...
  • 255
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Sci-fi short story about assassins who become targets

I read the story in the early eighties and remember it as being called “The Jackson Killers” but can’t find any reference to it. I believe it was in an anthology of sci-fi short stories. Anyone recall ...
  • 137
13 votes
1 answer
229 views

1980s post-apocalyptic story; insane president leads cult from dirigible

I read a story from F&SF or Amazing Stories in 1985 or so; the main character is a political advisor to a Kennedyesque charismatic president, recalling how the president deliberately caused ...
  • 16k
6 votes
0 answers
112 views

Short story set in human colony on another planet about an old woman who takes in an android

I read a short story in one of those "best of the year" sci fi anthologies a year or so ago. It was about an old woman living in a human colony on an alien planet. She is a hermit and takes ...
  • 61
7 votes
1 answer
189 views

Short story where a man accidentally swaps half of his body with someone else in the future

I was browsing story-identification questions, when suddenly this one popped into my head, unfortunately with the details very vague. I'm pretty sure I read this in a short story collection some time ...
  • 194k

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