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
These stories might interest an avid reader, or might be suitable short stories for middle school kids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gabriel-Ernest | Saki
There’s a wild, feral boy in the woods. He infiltrates a man’s home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See also: The Toxic Donut (Nature), Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment (Aging)
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.