59 votes

Married couple pretend to like each other due to crystal sculpture

This is "The Synergy Sculpture" (1978) by Terrence L. Brown. It was original to Orbit 20 and never reprinted. a couple whose prized possession is semi-living crystal structure that is ...
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  • 5,346
58 votes
Accepted

A short tale of a robot male house servant which the lady owner falls in love with

It's possible the story you are looking for is called "Satisfaction Guaranteed". It is one of Asimovs robot stories and, as you mention, features a woman with a male humanoid robot assigned ...
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  • 9,978
57 votes
Accepted

Alien captain shows his ship to one of the human delegates, but can't really impress him

Tech. This is the original story on Reddit. As the diplomats entered the meeting room, I found myself left outside said room, in the antechamber, with one of the humans - the pilot of their shuttle. ...
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56 votes
Accepted

Story collection with new house turning into hypercube

The hypercube story is probably "—And He Built a Crooked House—" by Robert Heinlein. The story with the golden goose is almost certainly Pâté de Foie Gras by Isaac Asimov.. The only book ...
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  • 615k
53 votes

Short story about a man snooping on a neighbor, and finding their body folded up neatly in a box

This is Theodore Sturgeon's "The Other Celia" You've described it quite thoroughly! The protagonist is a bit more of a peeper than you remember, though. He drilled a hole in the floor/...
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48 votes
Accepted

Phone calls between man and woman that live in alternate universes

This is definitely "Out of this World" (1964) by Alfred Bester. It was published in his 1964 collection The Dark Side of the Earth. Howard Campbell introduces himself as someone who is ...
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  • 83.8k
47 votes

Short story about a wizard who duels his darker half

This sounds like a slightly mixed up version of Ursula K. Le Guin's "A Wizard Of Earthsea". The boy summons a dark creature, which is banished by his teacher; who then sends him to the magic ...
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  • 9,869
45 votes
Accepted

Golden age SF short story where spacecraft pilots are reanimated dead people?

This must be Scanners Live in Vain by Cordwainer Smith. From the wikipedia summary: Conscious humans cannot travel through space because of an effect called the "Great Pain of Space", which ...
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43 votes

Asimov story about a man who can do calculations on paper

Isaac Asimov, as you surmised. "The Feeling of Power". In the distant future, humans live in a computer-aided society and have forgotten the fundamentals of mathematics, including even the ...
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  • 8,120
43 votes

Isaac Asimov short story about illegal meat

I'll suggest "The Contraband Cow" by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in Astounding in 1942. Although it is not actually by Asimov as specified in the question, Sprague de Camp was a ...
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42 votes
Accepted

Short story about someone who is exiled on a prison planet where some people bury themselves in the ground or grow extra limbs

This is "A Planet Named Shayol" by Cordwainer Smith. (It's my father's all-time favorite science fiction story.) "Cordwainer Smith" was the pen name of the diplomat, professor, ...
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  • 86k
41 votes
Accepted

Short story about space maintenance guy?

It is The Repairman by Harry Harrison This department is officially called Maintenance and Repair, when it really should be called trouble-shooting. Hyperspace beacons are made to last forever -- or ...
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41 votes
Accepted

Story with a child-like AI being used to control a fusion reactor by being taught that the plasma was broccoli and that it hated it

This is "The Broccoli Factor" (1990) by Timothy Zahn. The story is pretty much as described, the major difference is that JUNIOR (the AI) is at a two-year-old level, not 5. "So what's ...
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  • 83.8k
40 votes
Accepted

Short story; Aliens look for Playboy bosoms

Playboy and the Slime God by Asimov, aka What is this Thing called Love. “The bosom does not consist of globes or spheres. I know what globes or spheres are and in these pictures you have shown me, ...
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39 votes
Accepted

Short story: alien capable of mimicking human appearance and decision making patterns revealed when a blood test shows sugar concentration of 0

I believe this is "Counterfeit" (Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1952), by Alan E. Nourse. The doctor's name is Crawford: Doctor John Crawford leaned back in the relaxer, spreading his ...
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  • 83.8k
37 votes

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

"Earthmen Bearing Gifts" by Fredric Brown "They will watch the flash through their lunar telescopes and get a--what do they call it?--a spectroscopic analysis. That will tell them more ...
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  • 10.5k
36 votes
Accepted

A short tale about a dim-witted man with outstanding presence, being taught how to deliver a speech by reading from elaborate scripts

Sounds like Ignition Point! by Isaac Asimov, originally published in The Winds of Change and Other Stories in 1983. From Tropedia: "Ignition Point!" is about a man who figures out how to ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Beethoven driven mad by voice from future

This must surely be The Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven and Other Lost Songs, a short story by Carter Scholz, first published in Universe 7 in 1977. As you recall, investigators use a mental ...
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35 votes
Accepted

A short story about a shipwreck in space

"Marooned off Vesta", a short story by Isaac Asimov (his first published story); first published in Amazing Stories, March 1939, available at the Internet Archive; the reprint in Amazing ...
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  • 144k
35 votes

I read the book around 1982. Sci fi galactic battle between human and alien. setting is on a desert type planet

Arena, by Frederic Brown, first published in the June 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. A Star Trek episode, also called Arena, had similarities. In order to avoid legal problems, it ...
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  • 8,704
34 votes
Accepted

Short novella about alien abduction of an alcoholic

I believe the story is "Man of Distinction" by Fredric Brown. They put him in a zoo with a sign saying "Alcoholicus Anonymous". His cage had a bubbling fountain of booze in which ...
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  • 8,130
34 votes
Accepted

A priest grants absolution to a man who turns out to be an android

"Last Rites", a short story by Charles Beaumont, first published in If, October 1955, available at the Internet Archive. There is no mention of chess, and the sacrament the android wants the ...
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  • 144k
34 votes
Accepted

Looking for a story about language rapidly evolving

"Shall We Have a Little Talk?", a novelette by Robert Sheckley, first published in Galaxy Magazine, October 1965, available at the Internet Archive. You may have read it in one of these ...
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  • 144k
34 votes
Accepted

Short story where babies were geometric forms

This appears to be "The Thing About Shapes to Come" by Adam-Troy Castro, published in Lightspeed Magazine, January 2014 and available online. Monica’s new baby was like a lot of new babies ...
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  • 83.8k
33 votes

Short story about an astronaut who finds a rock that can answer any question

This is "The Sack" (1950) by William Morrison. You've described it well, with one small difference: the custodian is not the actual astronaut that found the creature. As you say, the main ...
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33 votes

Earth men land on planet with wolf/dog-like predators, use newly developed ray guns with unlimited range

Apart from the fact that the question specifies a group of men, this sounds very much like "The Gun Without A Bang" a short story by Robert Sheckley that deals with the adventures of just ...
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33 votes
Accepted

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

A Logic Named Joe by Murray Leinster. It has been reprinted many times so there are lots of anthologies you might have read it in. I read it in Doorway Into Time. The bit about sobering up is: That ...
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33 votes
Accepted

Funny teleporter invention story

"Travel by Wire!" is a science fiction short story by English writer Arthur C. Clarke. Fortunately these difficulties have been largely overcome now that we use the micro-beams for our ...
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  • 4,116
32 votes
Accepted

Vintage book cover showing humanoid astronauts in upper body EVA suits but a "pod" or "monopant" lower half?

This is the type of suit described in "Islands in the Sky", a novel by Arthur C. Clarke. Published in 1952, I guess this counts as "vintage" sci-fi. Similarly to the remarks given ...
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32 votes

Is there a real substance called "bismullah"?

In the story bismullah is described as "a radioactive rare earth". None of the rare earths have this name, or anything close to it. However, by 1945, when the story was written, one rare ...
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