Science Fiction or Fantasy Short Stories

These short stories feature advanced sci-fi technology and other fantastical things not possible in our world.

See also Steampunk

See also Post-Apocalyptic

See also Dystopias

See also Star Wars

These stories might interest an avid reader, or might be suitable short stories for middle or high school kids.

Science Fiction / Fantasy Short Stories

Reunion | Arthur C. Clarke

An alien craft sends a transmission to earth, explaining that a disease split earth’s population a long time ago, but now the returning people have a cure for any who are still infected.

Read here

The Cold Equations | Tom Godwin

An emergency space ship is on course to deliver desperately needed medical supplies. The pilot discovers a stowaway, which is a major problem: emergency ships only have enough fuel to transport a predetermined amount of weight – the vessel, the supplies, and the pilot – to its destination.

Read here

Day Million | Frederik Pohl

In the far future, a man and woman carry on a romantic relationship. The narrative highlights the differences between how things are done now and how they’re done in this advanced society.

Read here

The Nine Billion Names of God | Arthur C. Clarke

A group of Tibetan monks believe that the universe will end when all the possible names of God are written down. By hand it will take another 15,000 years to finish the job, so they get a computer that can print all the possible letter combinations in three months.

Read here

Barney | Will Stanton

A scientist on an island conducts experiments to increase the intelligence of a rat, Barney. He documents his progress in a journal.

Read “Barney”

Gabriel-Ernest | Saki

There’s a wild, feral boy in the woods. He infiltrates a man’s home.

Read here

The Kugelmass Episode | Woody Allen

An unhappily married humanities professor, making no progress with his analyst, seeks help from a magician/entertainer. The magician says he can send the man into the world of any book he wants.

Read here

William and Mary | Roald Dahl

A doctor approaches a dying man with the suggestion that he keep his brain alive in a tub. The dying man is considering it, but his wife is against the idea.

Read here

Royal Jelly | Roald Dahl

A baby has been losing weight since birth, worrying the mother. Her husband, a bee expert, adds royal jelly to their baby’s formula.

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The Veldt | Ray Bradbury

A family lives in a futuristic house that automatically meets all their needs, including a nursery for the children that can create any scene they want. The parents are thinking about reducing their reliance on technology by taking a break from the nursery and all the automation, but the children are against the idea.

Read here

A collection of classic science fiction stories

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of The Science Fiction Writers of America

Embroidery | Ray Bradbury

Three women sit embroidering on a porch. The women are waiting for five o’clock, when the result of an experiment will become obvious.

Answer | Frederic Brown

A man completes a circuit that connects all the supercomputers of all the inhabited planets of the universe – all ninety-six billion of them.

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The Voice in the Night | William Hope Hodgson

A schooner is approached by a small rowboat. The passenger doesn’t want any lanterns out or any direct contact with the crew. He only asks for some food to be floated out to him. He leaves after getting it, but returns soon after.

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All You Zombies | Robert A. Heinlein

A young man explains to a bartender that he was born a girl. He (she) gave birth to a child and there were complications. The doctors noticed he (she) was a hermaphrodite and performed an emergency sex-change operation.

This story has time-travel and time-paradoxes. If you like this sort of thing and plan on reading it, I suggest not looking it up first; it will probably spoil something from the story.

Read here

The Answer | H. Beam Piper

Years after a nuclear war devastated half the earth, two nuclear scientists work together to create an antimatter bomb and test it.

Read here

Rain, Rain, Go Away | Isaac Asimov

The Wrights and the Sakkaros are neighbors. The Sakkaros like to be out in the sun but they rush inside at the possibility of rain. The Wrights are curious about them, so they invite the Sakkaros’s out to a carnival.

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The Machine that Won the War | Isaac Asimov

Earth has just won a war against the Denebians. Major decisions in the war effort were made by a computer called Multivac. Earth’s citizens celebrate the machine, but three scientists reveal that Multivac’s role might not have been as impressive as is believed.

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They’re Made Out of Meat | Terry Bisson

Someone is trying to explain to someone else that they have found a planet populated by beings made entirely of meat. The second speaker finds this very hard to believe; they have never encountered this situation before.

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The Semplica-Girl Diaries | George Saunders

A forty-year-old father of three girls starts a diary to inform future readers how life is in the present. He chronicles the events leading up to the thirteenth birthday party of his oldest daughter, Lilly. The family is middle-class, but they live beyond their means. The father wants to buy his daughter an expensive present, and also wants a status symbol to show off to the neighbors.

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Flowers for Algernon | Daniel Keyes

A mentally retarded man undergoes a procedure to vastly increase his intelligence. He keeps a diary of his progress and personal interactions.

Read here

A Sound of Thunder | Ray Bradbury

In the future, a company offers guided hunting safaris into the past to kill dinosaurs. Extreme care is taken to ensure nothing happens that could alter the present.

Read “A Sound of Thunder” (PDF pg 3)

Tobermory | Saki

At a party at a country house, a guest announces that he can teach animals to speak. As proof, he produces the host’s cat, Tobermory, who proceeds to embarrass the guests by revealing details of private conversations.

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The Electric Ant | Philip K. Dick

Garson Poole wakes up in a hospital bed after an accident. He is missing his right hand but feels no pain. The doctor informs him he is an electric ant–an organic robot. He is disillusioned by the news, having believed himself to be human.

Read “The Electric Ant” (Use Ctrl+F to search title. It’s a little over half-way down the page.)

All Summer in a Day | Ray Bradbury

Humans are living on Venus. The children are eagerly awaiting an event that scientists have confirmed: it will stop raining for two hours, the only break from rain in seven years. The kids speculate about what the sun is like.

Read “All Summer in a Day”

The Star | Arthur C. Clarke

The narrator, a Jesuit astrophysicist, didn’t believe that anything in space could affect his faith. He is part of a crew returning to Earth after a mission that has yielded data—soon to be revealed to everyone— that caused his faith to be shaken.

Read “The Star”

To Serve Man | Damon Knight

Earth is visited by the Kanamit, a half pig and half human alien race. They bring gifts – ways of increasing food production, power generation, and other helpful things. Some people question their altruism, but when the Kanamit are subjected to a lie-detector, they pass.

Read “To Serve Man”

The Vegetable Man | Luigi Ugolini

The narrator recounts a story told him by a green man. He had a degree in Natural Sciences and explored the Amazon and Mato Grosso. He found many wonders, including a new plant beyond classification – tall as a person, with thick and fleshy leaves, reddish branches, and long white hair.

Read “The Vegetable Man”

Mimic | Donald A. Wollheim

The narrator tells the story of a man he knew from childhood. He always wore a black cloak and a wide brimmed hat pulled down over his face. He kept to himself and never caused any trouble. One day there was an incident.

Read “Mimic”

The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles | Margaret St. Clair

Mortensen, a rope salesman, prepares to call on the gnoles. They have a bad reputation, but he figures they must have need of rope, and a big sale would help him reach his quota. He reviews his sales manual and then sets out for the house of the gnoles.

Read “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles”

The Toxic Donut | Terry Bisson

In the future, all the world’s environmental problems have been solved. Ron, an assistant for an annual awards show, walks the special guest, Kim, through a rehearsal. Kim has been chosen to represent all of humanity and nature on the show.

The Fun They Had | Isaac Asimov

In the year 2157 Tommy finds a real book. It is about how school was in the old days. He and Margie talk about how different school used to be with human teachers.

Read “The Fun They Had”

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment | Nathaniel Hawthorne

Dr. Heidegger invites four old acquaintances over to take part in an experiment. He claims that a friend of his discovered the famed Fountain of Youth and has given him a bottle. The guests are invited to partake of the liquid.

Read here

The Colomber | Dino Buzzati

When Stefano turns twelve his father takes him aboard his ship. While they’re out sailing, Stefano spots something mysterious. His father turns pale when he sees what it is—a colomber, which is bad news for Stefano.

Read “The Colomber”

Disappearing Act | Richard Matheson

A man records the events of the last ten days. He and his wife Mary had been arguing about money. His writing isn’t bringing in anything, and his part-time job doesn’t bring in much. He goes out one evening with his married friend and two women they’ve met. Shortly after, things start getting strange.

Read “Disappearing Act”

It’s A Good Life | Jerome Bixby

Aunt Amy is on her front porch while little Anthony is tormenting a rat he caught. Bill Soames drops off a box of groceries. Bill is terrified of Anthony as is everyone else in town. He has powerful mental abilities that make everyone subject to his whims. Aunt Amy is preparing for a party that evening.

Read “It’s A Good Life”

Brothers Beyond the Void | Paul W. Fairman

Marcusson is preparing for a space voyage to Mars. He and his friend Conrad talk about who he will meet. Conrad explains that people are the same everywhere. Marcusson takes comfort from this and also feels some fear over his upcoming trip.

Read “Brothers Beyond the Void”

Four O’Clock | Price Day

Mr. Crangle is at home at 3:47 in the afternoon. Three weeks ago he realized he had the power to mark all evil people in some way. He would be the judge, and he had no moral qualms about using his ability. He sets 4:00 in the afternoon as the time when he will execute his judgment.

Read “Four O’Clock”

August 2002: Night Meeting | Ray Bradbury

Tomas stops at a lonely gas station on Mars on his way to a party. He talks to the old owner about how different Mars is from Earth, and how time seems different as well. Tomas leaves and soon meets a native Martian; they make a surprising discovery about each other.

Read “August 2002: Night Meeting”

A Saucer of Loneliness | Theodore Sturgeon

A man rushes into the sea to help a woman. It’s hard to find her in the tumult, and a panicked search ensues. Years earlier, she had a remarkable experience in a park that affected her deeply.

Read “A Saucer of Loneliness”

Pelt | Carol Emshwiller

A hunter and his dog are on the frozen planet Jaxa. The dog senses they are being watched, but she doesn’t know how to signal this to her master. The hunter is looking for trophies to add to his collection, and furs to sell.

Read “Pelt” (Ctl + F the title, Pg 22. Contains some typos)

A Lovely and Terrible Thing | Chris Womersley

The narrator works for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. While on his way to check out a possible entry for the next volume, his car breaks down. A stranger invites him to stay the night at his place. He says he has a daughter who does a special trick that might get her into the new book.

Read “A Lovely and Terrible Thing”

I will try to add more stories with elements of science fiction or fantasy that could be helpful for teaching reading and reading comprehension to middle and high school students. Eventually, I hope these pages will become a teaching resource.