List of science fiction short stories

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This is a non-comprehensive list of short stories with significant science fiction elements. Due to the large number of short stories this list is limited to stories that have done one of the following:

  • Defined a subgenre of science fiction.
  • Founded an important science fiction series.
  • Been the first to introduce a science fiction concept.
  • Won major science fiction or general fiction awards.
  • Topped a major bestseller list.
  • Been important to the field of science fiction in another way.

Artificial worlds[edit]

"see also Big Dumb Object"
"Construction Shack" (1973) by Clifford D. Simak
Pluto's status as a planet changes on the discovery it is artificial. When Simak wrote the story Pluto was still considered a planet by astronomers and the public.


"True Names" (1981) by Vernor Vinge 
One of the first cyberpunk stories to flesh out the idea of cyberspace.
"Burning Chrome" (1982) by William Gibson
A story of computer crackers.
""(Learning About) Machine Sex"" (1988) by Candas Jane Dorsey
A young female hacker invents "wet-ware", which is software and hardware that can plug into the human body. Sexual elements are important as per title.

Extraterrestrial intelligence[edit]

A Martian Odyssey (1934) by Stanley G. Weinbaum 
The earliest story to make alien personalities and civilizations as real as those of humans.

Non-3-dimensional space[edit]

"Flatland" (1884) by Edwin A. Abbott
A classic tale of a two-dimensional being meeting 'A Sphere'
"—And He Built a Crooked House—" (1941) by Robert A. Heinlein
Story of a house that extends into the fourth dimension, much to the puzzlement of its occupants.
"A Subway called Moebius" (1950) by A. J. Deutsch
Trains go missing when a subway becomes topologically complicated.
"Tangents" (1986) by Greg Bear
Story of a mathematician encountering and discussing beings living in four spatial dimensions.
"An Nothing" (????) by ??
Story of an alien artifact discovered on Earth's moon. Every attempt to enter the artifact results in the explorer's death in a variety of strange ways. Inside the artifact, dimensions don't add up, the interior shifts, and the explorer must discover how to navigate through the artifact. The team assigned to do this finds a person willing to be "destroyed" in order to make a copies of himself so that if he dies in the artifact, the next copy can take over. But, each copy is not as good as the original so it is a race against time against an alien intelligence that fundamentally is beyond human understanding.

Robot stories[edit]

"Rossums Universal Robots" (1921) by Karel Čapek 
A science fiction play in the Czech language - noted for introducing the term "robot" (though the robots described there would today be described as androids).
"Robbie" (1939) by Isaac Asimov 
First robot story by Isaac Asimov, published in the September 1940 issue of Super Science Stories.
"Runaround" (1942) by Isaac Asimov 
First story to list the Three Laws of Robotics, published in the March 1942 issue of Astounding.
"The Quest for St. Aquin" (1951) by Anthony Boucher
First, and possibly only, time a robot is portrayed as canonized theologian

Time travel[edit]

"The Chronic Argonauts" (1895) by H.G. Wells
Probably the very first significant time travel story ever.
"Vintage Season" (1946) by C. L. Moore
Time-travelling tourists from the future seen from a perspective contemporary to the writer's era.
"A Sound of Thunder" (1952) by Ray Bradbury
This story revolves around a business called Time Safari, Inc. Time Safari promises to take people back in time so they can hunt prehistoric animals, such as Tyrannosaurus rex. In order to avoid a time paradox, they are very careful to leave history undisturbed on the principle that even the slightest change can cause major changes in the future.
"You Were Right, Joe" (1957) by J. T. McIntosh
The disembodied mind of a man is cast into the far off future where it is re-incorporated in the body of a Herculean body builder, maintaining all the while a line of communication with the scientist who stayed behind.
"" — All You Zombies — "" (1959) by Robert A. Heinlein
A story featuring a neatly tangled set of time travel paradoxes.
"Hawksbill Station" (1968) by Robert Silverberg
The Station in the title is a prison colony created in the pre-Cambrian era by means of a time machine invented by an eponymous Dr. Hawksbill.
"A Little Something For Us Tempunauts" (1975) by Philip K. Dick
US time travellers, tempunauts, find that instead of travelling 100 years into the future, they have gone merely a few days.
"Fire Watch" (1982) by Connie Willis
The story of a time-travelling "historian" who goes back to The Blitz in London. He's annoyed by this as he had spent years preparing to travel with St. Paul and gets sent to St. Paul's Cathedral, in London, instead. Winner of the 1983 Hugo Award and a Nebula Award.
"Ripples in the Dirac Sea" (1988) by Geoffrey A. Landis
The affecting story of a scientist seesawing inescapably through time, this brilliant work effectively deconstructs most time-travel stories that came before. Winner of the 1989 Nebula Award for best short story.
"A Night on the Barbary Coast" (2003) by Kage Baker
Time travel facilitator and a botanist return to the wild and woolly San Francisco of the 1850s. Winner of the first of the Norton awards for San Francisco based speculative fiction in 2003.[1]

Award winning short stories[edit]

The two main awards given in American science fiction are the Hugos and the Nebulas. Complete lists of the short stories that won these awards are at Hugo Award for Best Short Story and Nebula Award for Best Short Story.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Silver, Steven H. (1 October 2003) "First Annual Norton Awards Presented" SF Site News, last accessed 20 October 2010