Action or Adventure Short Stories: Plot-Driven or Exciting

These action and adventure short stories are plot-driven. The action is a very important, if not the most important, part of the story, often involving an adventure. See also:

Adventure & Action Short Stories

“Never Stop on the Motorway” by Jeffrey Archer

Diana is looking forward to going to her friend’s farmhouse for the weekend. She gets held up at the office, and can’t leave until 6. She’s divorced, and it’s her husband’s weekend with the kids. She doesn’t like being by herself. It’s slow going getting out of the city. When she finally gets her speed up, there’s an incident. (Summary)

This story can be read in the preview of The Short, the Long and the Tall. (7% in)

“Honor and . . .” by Sandra Brown and C. J. Box

Joe Pickett is scouting the Gros Ventre Range, filling in as game warden. He hears high snapping sounds in the distance. They were gunshots, and not all of the same caliber. It doesn’t sound like hunters. He weighs his options. Another sound settles it for him.

This story also features Lee Coburn.

It can be read in the preview of Matchup(15 % into preview)

“To Build a Fire” by Jack London

In the Yukon, a man is traveling on foot with a husky in the wilderness to meet some acquaintances. It’s –75 degrees and even though he’s careful, he breaks through some ice and soaks his boots, necessitating a fire.

Read “To Build a Fire” (Includes Summary & Analysis)

Jack London wrote many other adventure stories.

“The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland

Conn Corbansson fought for Sweyn Tjugas in his rise to King of Denmark. Sweyn had promised they would also take England, but now he’s hesitant. Sweyn has his sights set on Norway, and has enlisted the help of the Jomsvikings. Conn is upset with the change. While feasting, many of the notables make public oaths. Caught up in the moment, Conn makes one himself.

“The King of Norway” can be read in the Amazon preview of Warriors. (23% in)

“Desperate Men” by Louis L’Amour

Four men in Yuma prison get an opportunity. An earthquake has left a hole in the perimeter wall. An escape is still difficult, and not dying in the desert is even more difficult. They talk about how they could get guns, horses and money.

“Desperate Men is the third story in the Amazon preview of The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour: Volume 1(55% in)

“Duel” by Richard Matheson

Mann is driving to San Francisco for an appointment. He passes a semi pulling a trailer. Shortly after, the semi roars past and abruptly cuts in front of him. He’s not sure what to make of it. He has to slow down a bit. He doesn’t have any spare time. Mann decides to pass again.

This is the first story in the preview of Duel: Terror Stories(7% in)

“Devil Dogs” by Tim Lebbon

Captain Halley commands the Doyle, a Sleek-class destroyer. They’re on a mysterious rescue mission, accompanied by a civilian, Kalien. Halley is comforted in at least having the 39th Spaceborne with her. Contact has been lost with a research station. Halley has a feeling there’s a lot more going on than she’s being told.

This story can be read in the preview of Predator: If It Bleeds(20% in)

“Alex in Afghanistan” by Anthony Horowitz

Alex Rider, a fourteen-year-old, is sitting at a fire with five men. They’re in Afghanistan at the Herat Mountains. They’re eating and resting after traveling by horseback from the border. The men—Afghan nomads—have been paid to take him to Falcon’s Edge. There’s a facility deep in the mountains that could be producing uranium, which will then be sold to terrorists. Why Alex has been chosen for this mission, he doesn’t know.

This story is in Alex Rider: Secret Weapon: Seven Untold Adventures From the Life of a Teenage Spy.

“Gunfight at the Golden Gator” by Tyson Blue

Roger James, a Larey County Deputy, is headed back to the Sheriff’s office with his partner, Tim Foster, in the very early morning. The Mullis brothers, whose criminal empire rules the southern part of the county, have put out a hit on Roger. His testimony could put Woodrow Mullis in jail for a long time. They get a call from dispatch about a disturbance at the Golden Gator, a hangout in Mullis territory.

Some of this story can be read in the preview of A Time For Violence: Stories With an Edge(67% into preview)

“Venatoris” by G. S. Jennsen

Alex is at the bar in the Yuzhou Li Orbital Station looking for information, or even better, a contract. She talks to an acquaintance, Bob, who thinks of himself as a space pirate. She quickly ends the conversation when a man enters the bar. Alex tries to look casual as she joins him at his table. There’s a job that’s going to go public in about an hour. There are some rare elements at a newly discovered pulsar that could be very valuable.

This story can be read in Beyond the Stars: A Planet Too Far(20% into preview)

Action & Adventure Short Stories, Cont’d

“Even Hand” by Jim Butcher

John Marcone eliminates some criminal rivals with the help of his staff. Back at the office, there’s a problem—an Accords matter. A young woman with a child is shown in. She’s looking for sanctuary. Her pursuer is Mag, a cantrev lord of the fomor.

“Even Hand” can be read in the Amazon preview of Urban Enemies. (12% in)

“Conspiracy on Callisto” by Frederik Pohl

Duane and Stevens are in a ship’s corridor ready to draw their guns. Duane found out his payout from this job won’t be what he was expecting. Stevens has a private arrangement with their employer, Andrias, and won’t give up any of his share. An alarm bell sounds throughout the ship, indicating a change of course in one minute. Everyone needs to get to their cabins and strap in.

This story can be read in the preview of The 15th Science Fiction MEGAPACK. (4% into preview)

“The Metal Men of Mars” by Joe R. Lansdale

John Carter, Jeddak of Helium, is restless for some adventure. He takes his weapons and heads out in a small flyer over the Martian desert. One night, while his ships floats moored to the ground, he closes his eyes to sleep. His ship is struck by something that sends him over the edge, dangling from the side.

This story can be read in the preview of Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom(35% in)

“The Siege Of Denver” by Brendan DuBois

The Creepers have invaded Earth and resources are scarce. Outside Denver, a small squad is in a trench—Corporal Jankowski, Private MacKay and Morales. Only Jankowski is certified to handle the M-10, the weapon of choice for engaging the Creepers. MacKay and Morales have M-4s, which are only useful as a diversion. MacKay spots some balloons near a supply wagon. It looks like they’re going to try and float some much-needed provisions into the besieged city.

This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF 2015(45% in)

“The Sea Raiders” by H. G. Wells

A retired man takes an afternoon walk along the English coast. He notices a pinkish form far below surrounded by some kind of animals. He makes his way closer, and is shocked by what he finds.

Read “The Sea Raiders”

“Off the Mangrove Coast” by Louis L’Amour

Four men steal a boat and set out to sea. One of them, Limey Johnson, knows of a ship that sank off the mangrove coast with fifty thousand dollars in a safe. They will split it four ways—unless something happens to improve each person’s share.

“A Sound of Thunder” by 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)

“The Seed from the Sepulchre” by Clark Ashton Smith

Falmer and Thone are orchid hunters, exploring a tributary of the Orinoco. When Thone falls ill, Falmer continues on to a site where rumor says a treasure was left in some ruins. Falmer returns changed; he is surly, distracted, and uncommunicative. Thone thinks his partner might have picked up a tropical infection. They decide to go back to the main river.

Read “The Seed from the Sepulchre”

“After King Kong Fell” by Philip Jose Farmer

Mr. Howller watches King Kong with his six-year-old granddaughter, Jill. She is affected by the movie and asks questions about King Kong. Her grandfather explains that what they saw was make-believe but says that he was there when it really happened. He tells the real story.

Read “After King Kong Fell”

“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Raisnsford is on a ship headed for the Amazon. He’s a big-game hunter. While on the afterdeck smoking his pipe, he hears the sound of gunshots in the distance. When he investigates, an accident puts him in a dangerous situation.

Read “The Most Dangerous Game”

Action & Adventure Short Stories, Cont’d

“The Greatest Thing in the World” by Norman Mailer

Al Groot, a young adult, enters a lunch wagon and tries to get a deal on a doughnut and coffee. He has been walking and hitch-hiking, trying to get to Chicago. When three men come in for a meal, Al tries to get a ride with them.

“Leiningen Versus the Ants” by Carl Stephenson

Leiningen owns a large plantation in Brazil. An army of ants, twenty square miles in size, is advancing on the plantation, destroying everything in its path. Leiningen has been warned to abandon his property—for the safety of himself and his men—but he plans on making a stand and fighting off the ants.

Read “Leiningen Versus the Ants”

“Soaked in Seaweed: or Upset in the Ocean” by Stephen Leacock

Mr Blowhard joins the Saucy Sally as second mate. He leaves with Captain Bilge and the rest of the crew. Everything goes well until the third day when Blowhard is told there was an incident involving the first and third mates.

This is a parody of the sea faring adventure story.

Read “Soaked in Seaweed”

“The Lost Legion” by Rudyard Kipling

Thirty years ago, an Indian regiment fleeing from the English were massacred by an Afghan tribe. Now the Government decides to move on its leader, Gulla Kutta Mullah, and his band of outlaws. They live in a valley with natural defenses—a single narrow entry surrounded by high hills.

Read “The Lost Legion”

“The Escape” by J. B. Stamper

Boris is being led down a long hallway to the solitary confinement cell. He was caught in an escape attempt. He’s terrified of his punishment and begs to be spared. He promises he’ll never do anything wrong again.

Read “The Escape”

“Guy Walks Into a Bar” by Lee Child

Jack Reacher, a former military cop, is in a bar in New York. There is a young woman, blonde and rich, who is clearly taken with the band’s guitar player. While scoping out the room, Reacher sees two suspicious guys.

“Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin

Simon Kress lives alone outside the city. He likes unusual and exotic pets. After his last trip his animals died. He finds a new shop, Wo and Shade Importers, where he is shown sandkings, an insect-sized life-form with a hivemind that fights wars with other colonies.

This story is novelette length.

Read “Sandkings”

“Resistance” by Tobias S. Bucknell

Stanuel helps Pepper, a mercenary, gain entry to a secure building. It’s closely monitored by the leader, Pan. They have about an hour to get to their target site before they’re discovered.

I’ll keep adding action and adventure short stories as I find more.