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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Must Read Short Stories

   
Author Topic: Must Read Short Stories
Occasional
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Another post about a sci-fi short story that was made into a movie and a short film got me thinking. Short story collections have gone out of vogue outside of made for college books. What would be "must read" short stories of any genre and time period? What author or type of story would make a great short story collection? What are some good collections that already exist?
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Trent Destian
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No Exit
The Wall
By the Waters of Babylon
Scarlet Ibis
8 plus 1: a collection by Robert Cormier

For some reason I don't come across too many short stories that a particularly high spirited or even remotely happy. At least not stories that I would consider quality. Most turn out fairly depressing and leave you feeling...bleh.

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Lisa
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In no particular order, and off the top of my head. The problem is, I limited myself to one story per author, but authors like Heinlein and Ellison have any number of stories that really belong on this list. Still, if I were putting together a collection of the best and most important short stories I've read and was limited to one per author, this would be it.

"Nightfall" - Isaac Asimov
"Harrison Bergeron" - Kurt Vonnegut
"Requium" - Robert A. Heinlein
"The Jigsaw Man" - Larry Niven
"Carcinoma Angels" - Norman Spinrad
"Jeffty Is Five" - Harlan Ellison
"Press Enter" - John Varley
"Mind Partner" - Christopher Anvil
"Quitters, Inc." - Stephen King
"A Sound of Thunder" - Ray Bradbury
"Like a Dog in the Street" - Lawrence Block
"God is an Iron" - Spider Robinson
"A Pail of Air" - Fritz Leiber
"The Cold Equations" - Tom Godwin
"Flowers for Algernon" - Daniel Keyes
"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" - Lewis Padgett
"Arena" - Fredric Brown
"The Most Dangerous Game" - Richard Connell
"The Lottery" - Shirley Jackson
"Ender's Game" (the original, not the novel) - Orson Scott Card
"The Gift of the Magi" - O. Henry
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" - Ambrose Bierce
The Monkey's Paw" - W.W. Jacobs

[edited because I forgot OSC - duh.]
[edited to add some more (thanks, CT)]

[ September 26, 2008, 11:35 AM: Message edited by: Lisa ]

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SenojRetep
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I was going to mention "Sound of Thunder" (Bradbury) and "The Lottery" (Jackson) as obvious great SpecFic Short Stories.

I also really like "Those who Walk Away from Omelas" (LeGuin). Probably more than the other two. "Hatrack River" (Card) isn't bad either.

A couple years ago I got a collection of short stories called "The American Fantasy Tradition" (Thomsen) that I highly recommend. Particularly "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" (King)

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dean
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I'd like to see Bloodchild by Octavia Butler anthologized for school-children.
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rivka
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"Harrison Bergeron" has been mentioned, but I'll second it. And add "All Summer in a Day", by Ray Bradbury.

(And I should know better than to watch the Wonderworks video. It makes me sob every time. *sniffle*)

[ September 25, 2008, 01:43 PM: Message edited by: rivka ]

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advice for robots
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"Ralph the Duck" by Frederick Busch. I think I mention this every time someone asks for stories.
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Selran
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The Call of Cthulhu
The Dunwich Horror
The Shadow Over Innsmouth
At the Mountains of Madness

All by H.P. Lovecraft

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TL
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A Perfect Day For Bananafish
Just Before the War With the Eskimos, J.D. Salinger

The Whimper of Whipped Dogs
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Harlan Ellison

Memorial Day
For Kenneth, Nadine Darling

The Doors of his Face, The Lamps of His Mouth
A Rose For Ecclesiastes, Roger Zelazny

A very small sampling of some of my favorite stuff. I'll leave it there.

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Puffy Treat
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"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke
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TomDavidson
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Here are some ones not yet mentioned that sprang to mind immediately:

"'Repent, Harlequin,' Said the Tick-Tock Man," by Ellison
"The Last Defender of Camelot," by Zelazny
"The Hit Man," by Boyle
"The Cambist and Lord Iron," by Abraham
"John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner," by Clarke
"The Veldt," by Bradbury

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Tatiana
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The Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven
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Lisa
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<wince> Tatiana, that almost edges out The Jigsaw Man for me.
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TomDavidson
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That might actually make a fun game: vote on the single best story from a popular author. [Smile]
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Shmuel
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"The Last Question," by Isaac Asimov
"For a Breath I Tarry," by Roger Zelazny (strictly speaking, a novelette)
"There Will Come Soft Rains," Ray Bradbury
"The Cask of Amontillado," by Edgar Allan Poe
"A Scandal in Bohemia," by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
And for pure fun, "The Storyteller," by Saki.
(All of these are somewhat arbitrary choices from authors offering a multitude of good options.)

Also, enthusiastic seconds (or thirds) for "Flowers for Algernon," "The Lottery," and "Harrison Bergeron."

Edited to add:
Good grief, we all forgot O. Henry! I'd go with "The Last Leaf."

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rivka
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Really? I like "The Gift of the Magi". (The shocking thing is that I read it in a BY. [Eek!] [Big Grin] It wouldn't happen there now, but that's because it's shifted quite a bit to the right since I was there. Which is why my daughter isn't there . . .)
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Shmuel
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Really? I like "The Gift of the Magi". (The shocking thing is that I read it in a BY. [Eek!] [Big Grin] It wouldn't happen there now, but that's because it's shifted quite a bit to the right since I was there. Which is why my daughter isn't there . . .)

It's a tossup, really. [Smile] I'd also put "The Cop and the Anthem" in the running, though it's not as heartwarming as the other two. (And I hear ya on the right-wing-shift thing. It's been happening all over. [sigh])
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rivka
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You know, I'm not sure I'd ever read "The Last Leaf" before now. It's lovely. [Smile] I had something else in mind when I saw the title, but I googled to check, and I'm glad I did.

(Yes, but we left-wingers are fighting back. My daughter is attending the new HS, for instance. College prep. [Big Grin] )

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Kwea
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Damn you all.

Novels I have covered, but I have only read about half of these....

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ClaudiaTherese
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I'll add these:

"Sandkings" by George RR Martin
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce

Lots of great suggestions above, and several new to me that I plan to look up.

---

Added other memorables for me:
"The Monkey's Paw" by WW Jacobs
"The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe
[make that] "The Red-Headed League" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
"The Mysterious Stranger [novella]" by Mark Twain
"The Catbird Seat" by James Thurber

I know there are non-European/non-US stories I am leaving out, but my mind is at a blank now.

[ September 26, 2008, 02:25 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Trent Destian
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"Where are you going, where have you been?" - Joyce Carol Oates
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Darth_Mauve
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At a book fair a couple of years ago I found "The Hugo Winners I" by Isaac Asimov. Its a collection of winners from the first 15 or so years of the Hugo prize. So far I've found "Flowers for Algernon" and the first of McAffrey's Dragon stories, and a bunch of others that have been surprisingly great. I love short story collections.

If you get to read a collection that has been produced or edited by Isaac Asimov, read it. The stories may not be the best, but his commentary is.

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Puffy Treat
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"Touk's House" by Robin McKinley

"Come Into My Cellar" by Ray Bradbury

"The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Anderson

"Bartleby the Scrivener" by Herman Melville

"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Two Hearts" by Peter S. Beagle

"Red as Blood" by Tanith Lee

"Robot Dreams" by Isaac Asimov

"Portraits of His Children" by George R.R. Martin

"Everard's Ride" by Diana Wynne Jones

"Chivalry" by Neil Gaiman

"Curses, Inc." by Vivian Vande Velde

"The Lady of the Skulls" by Patricia A. McKillip

"The Little Girl and the Wolf" by James Thurber

"The Smith, the Weaver, and the Harper" by Lloyd Alexander

"A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner

"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin

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Puffy Treat
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And just for fun:

"The Law-Twister Shorty" by Gordon R. Dickson

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Javert
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"Breaking Strain" and "Guardian Angel" by Arthur C. Clarke

"The Jaunt" by Stephen King

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BlackBlade
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I'll add

"Those Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula LeGuin.

"Passengers" by Robert Silverberg.

"Bears Discover Fire" by Terry Bisson.

But I'm afraid my suggestions will probably get lost in the shuffle. There are some prolific readers on Hatrack.

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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by Puffy Treat:

"A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner


I remember years ago a co-worker had a new baby girl named Emily. Another co-worker said she had the phrase "a rose for Emily" in her mind and wanted to run the idea by me to use it as a gift theme. I said, "glad you ran that by me first, let me tell you about the story. . . ."
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Puffy Treat
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Yeah, implied necrophilia isn't a very good "gift theme." [Angst]
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Eaquae Legit
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"The Fate of Mice" by Susan Palwick.
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Cashew
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"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke

Dang, I was gonna say that one. Actually most of Arthur C Clarke's short stories are good reads. It's his novels which are unreadable...

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Jeorge
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"To Cuddle Amy" - Nancy Kress
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katdog42
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Most of my others have already been named, but I have to throw in one of my favorites.

"Profession" - Isaac Asimov

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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by Occasional:
Short story collections have gone out of vogue outside of made for college books.

I'm not sure I grant the premise here. Non-theme anthologies have seen an uptick lately. In fact, both Readercon and Worldcon had panels devoted to examining this phenomenon. Next time you're in B&N, look for anthologies by Ellen Datlow.


quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
"The Cambist and Lord Iron," by Abraham

It's a good story, but I'm surprised to see you put it up with the rest of these. Personally, I voted for Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" instead. I found that to be a deeply affecting story, and, in the end, Abraham's seemed more like a thinly veiled lesson in market economics than a story.
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Icarus
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My favorite Asimov story is one where they rediscover arithmetic without a computer. The name escapes me at the moment.
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