Science fiction draws audiences for its very essence of possibility; this genre roots itself in what could unfold in any number of realities. Many classic sci-fi shorts still rate among the best; indeed, most early shorts resonate strongly today, warning audiences of what may unfold in our lifetimes. Whether you like aliens, futuristic technology, or the promise of scientific exploration, these 10 amazing science fiction short stories offer them all: hail to the masters!
“Requiem” Robert A. Heinlein
A heartsong to man’s love of exploration, Heinlein presents a man who’s waited decades to travel to the moon in a future where everyone does. He faces familial obstacles and spends his fortune to get there…and believes every challenge is worth it.
“The Library of Babel” Jorge Luis Borges
This short delves into the themes of infinity and reality as the narrator describes his universe as a never-ending set of rooms filled with every book ever written, every book in progress, and every book to be written. However there’s no order to the books; librarians are surrounded with vast knowledge neighboring drivel and they cannot benefit from it.
“There Will Come Soft Rains” Ray Bradbury
It’s a difficult task to choose a single Bradbury short story, especially from those within The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles. However this short remains relevant in today’s technological and geopolitical landscape. It exists as a haunting meditation on the extinction of humanity and what we’ll leave behind.
“The Dead Past” Isaac Asimov
In a futuristic world where the government controls science, Asimov unravels a tale that rails against the centralized control of research. To truly advance knowledge, the scientific process must be collaborative; the opposite has consequences.
“Flowers for Algernon” Daniel Keyes
The novel by the same name began as a short story exploring eugenics. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to increase your intelligence, this is a classic sci-fi meditation.
“Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Love satire? This dystopian short is for you. Vonnegut creates a society of infinite equality, where every citizen is equal in appearance, intelligence, and ability. In a world eliminating all traces of difference, what’s left?
“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” Ursula K Le Guin
Le Guin purposefully creates a vague setting to focus the audience on the actions of the dwellers within the utopian city Omelas. What price is too high for society to pay for enjoying utopia? Omelas explores this still-relevant question.
“The Great Simoleon Caper” Neal Stephenson
This 1995 short by the author of Snow Crash deals with a future not far from our own where encryption, digital currency, and disinformation are commonplace. The hero and an anti-government group team up to foil the government’s status quo.
“A Study in Emerald” Neil Gaiman
Known for his fantasy works, this little gem merges the Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu universes together as the characters attempt to solve the murder of an alien noble from Germany. In a world similar yet vastly different from our own, the game is afoot.
“The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere” John Chu
Chu took the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Short Story with this creative piece. In the future, water falls from the sky whenever an individual lies and truth is rewarded with the comfort of a warm day…which is tricky for two lovers in a relationship.
This is by far not an inclusive list, but it’s a good place to start with many classic and some new sci-fi voices. Who are your favorites? Comment below and share you love of sci-fi shorts.