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Beautifully curated. I based inclusion on whether or not many of these factors were to the story's credit:. These are the best science fiction stories of all time, according to somebody who spent much of her life thinking that science fiction sucked. You see, it was only a few years ago that I admitted that I don't like modern science fiction short stories. To misquote the late Douglas Adams : That's when stories were real stories. Plots were real plots. And small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were vivid, exotic, fantastic and all too possible.
As hokey as they may seem today, the old sci-fi short stories stand the test of time for good, solid fiction, if not for scientific accuracy. This might be obvious, but these are ten of the best science fiction stories ever in my own opinion. It was anxiety-producing to narrow it down this much, as the body of work is so huge.
They are in no particular order - except the first one. That one really is the best. What you won't find: Detailed plot summaries. What I personally like about top 10 lists is the reviewer's opinions. So that's what I've put here. Plot summaries can be found in the Wikipedia articles linked to here.
So when I compiled this reader's list of the best science fiction short stories of the 20th century which is the same as "all time," as the genre became full-fledged only in the s , I noticed I was markedly favoring stories published from the s through the s. I tried to like modern speculative fiction, I really did. And I will again, when writers and publishers once again start turning out science fiction stories that actually give me the same sense of wonder as those old tales from the Golden Age did.
Besides being a true personality and a novelist, he was a rare beast amongst Golden Age science fiction writers. He didn't only tell a great tale - he could write. Many Golden Age writers, including one of the best-known, Robert Heinlein, were far better storytellers than they were writers. They had vision; words, not so much.
Bester wrote with a deep understanding of the psychology of language. He knew English well enough to play with it, mangle it, do impossible things with it. With Fondly Fahrenheit , the writing didn't just tell the story - it become the story. Which I suspect is why Fondly Fahrenheit was not ultimately dismissed as just another science fiction horror story. Though the story's disturbing premise - that a servile android-robot could turn on its human superiors and commit murder - was probably radical at the time, without Bester's way with words, Fondly Fahrenheit wouldn't have become the classic science fiction short story that it is today, still cited as one of the best sci fi stories ever.
It's just beautifully written, with a suspenseful mystery and a catchy song you won't forget but will want to. It's a story you have to keep reading.
- The M & M Affairs: An Erotic Novel.
- Here We Go.
And the end But feel free to dispute it if you like. Warning: As it is about a serial killer, Fondly Fahrenheit is a fairly dark story and may not be suitable for kids. Note: Don't confuse the short story Time in Advance with the title of the volume of four stories that contains it, called Time in Advance.
William Tenn is one of those science fiction writers who are well-known by dedicated fans and hardly known by casual readers. When asked to choose a favorite William Tenn science fiction short story, many would name The Brooklyn Project. And The Brooklyn Project is almost a perfect short story - satirical, ironic, with cut-throat social commentary and deftly drawn archetypes.
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But maybe because it's a linear, straight-shot fable-like morality tale, The Brooklyn Project is almost too perfect. I like character-driven stories, lighthearted humor and a twist that sneaks up on you, and science fiction author William Tenn delivered truly wicked humor and characterization in Time in Advance.
Time in Advance is the story of a man who's about to commit a lethal crime - a crime for which he's already paid his debt to society. Far from being a dark story of a vicious criminal secretly planning a covert murder, Tenn's tale takes a light approach. In this world, society views the crime as perfectly legal, if something of a novelty.
The hero is aiming to commit a vile crime, and not only is nobody about to stop him Cool concept, huh?
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How many times have you read a story that starts off with a good idea, but has poor execution? This is not one of those times. Time in Advance has almost perfect execution. The "what if" in this case is "What if people paid for the crime of murder before they committed it, and the penury was so heinous that nobody ever survived to commit the crime Tenn excels at twist endings - hilarious "aha" endings, such as in The Brooklyn Project.
Time in Advance not only has that, it also has a "feel good" ending, something sorely lacking in science fiction today, as if a happy ending would signify the end of speculative fiction as we know it. Yes, the ending somewhat dulls the cutting edge of the social commentary. But it works. I consider Time in Advance truly one of the best science fiction stories of all time.
Connie Willis, speculative fiction novelist and author of tragic science fiction Passage and comic science fiction To Say Nothing of the Dog , is one of the most popular modern science fiction authors writing today. A story she published back in , Daisy, In the Sun , appearing in the short story collection, Fire Watch , is one of the few ironically dark stories I love. And though it's not from the Golden Age, it is a real card-carrying, sense-of-wonder-bringing "what if" story. Though other readers rave about Fire Watch , and I'm a sucker for romance and would have loved to choose Blued Moon for this list, as it honestly is one of my favorite sci fi stories ever, I kept coming back to Daisy, In the Sun.
Daisy is disturbing, far more disturbing in its way than the devastating turn Wilis takes in A Letter from the Clearys. Not anywhere as gritty or extreme as the long and chilling All My Darling Daughters. And its scientific logic leaves It does have the usual Connie Willis twist, however. And despite being told as a kind of dreamy teen angst story, it's one of those stories you think about again and again.
It's less character-driven than most of her stories. It's tragic.