Here are some short stories about aliens or short stories about monsters. The alien stories are listed first, and the monster stories are in the second section. It’s possible that some hostile outsiders could be considered both aliens and monsters, so there’s some overlap between the categories. I hope you find something entertaining here. See also:
Short Stories About Aliens
“Tom” by Paul Cornell
Earth has been visited by the Carviv, a species with an affinity for the water. The females are also comfortable on land, while the males stay submerged. Many of the females seek work as guides on the Great Barrier Reefs, and the companies are glad to have them. The narrator was one of the first to become acquainted with a Carviv woman, Swav. Because of the different customs, the narrator had an unusual experience that was confusing for a time.
This story can be read in the preview of Solaris Rising 2: Book of Science Fiction.
“The Goblin Hunter” by Chris Beckett
Sergei is showing a newcomer, Janet, a little bit of Lutania. It’s very quiet; the native creatures use telepathy to communicate. They live in the sea, which is just a meter below the ground’s surface. They emerge at night from small ponds. Janet looks forward to seeing an indigene, but Sergei warns her it’s not usually pleasant. They’re able to bring people’s dark thoughts to the surface. Some of the local humans hunt the indigene.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Solaris Rising 3. (65% into preview)
“Foxy and Tiggs” by Justina Robson
Foxy, a humanoid foxling, and Tiggs, a velociraptor, are on the scene of a murder. They’re detective inspectors for the hotel where it took place, so this is a big case for them. The victim seems to have been drowned, then dropped from a height.
This is the first story in the preview of Infinity’s End. (23% into preview)
“To Serve Man” by 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, so the Kanamit are subjected to a lie-detector.
This story can be read in the preview of The Best of Damon Knight. (35% into preview)
“A Martian Odyssey” by Stanley G. Weinbaum
The Ares is the first ship to land on Mars. The chemist, Jarvis, set out in an auxiliary rocket on a mission, but crashed. As he was walking back to the Ares, he came upon a sentient bird who was being attacked by tentacled creature. He assisted. It identified itself as Tweel. They traveled together.
This is the first story in the preview of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Vol 1.
“Bloodchild” by Octavia E. Butler
Gan and his family are humans living in the Preserve on another planet. It’s ruled by the Tlic, an insect-like species. On the last day of Gan’s childhood, the family is visited by T’Gatoi, a Tlic politician in charge of the Preserve. Humans and the Tlic have an arrangement—they’re protected in the Preserve in exchange for incubating the Tlic eggs. Gan has been chosen by T’Gatoi.
Most of this story can be read in the preview of the anthology Invaders!
“The Streets of Ashkelon” by Harry Harrison
Trader Garth is on the Wesker’s World. The Weskers are amphibious beings, logical and without any religion. Garth is the only merchant who visits the planet, and he’s glad not to have any competition. He’s teaching them the scientific method. One day, the ship of a rival, Singh, lands on Wesker. He’s not staying though. He’s just dropping off a missionary.
This story can be read in the preview of 50 in 50: Fifty Stories for Fifty Years! (40% into preview)
“Alaree” by Robert Silverberg
A spaceship, the Aaron Burr, makes an emergency landing for repairs on an unexplored planet. They make contact with an alien, a pale-green humanoid. His name is Alaree, and he refers to himself as “we”. Alaree returns to visit the crew throughout the repairs, and they learn about each other.
This story can be read in the preview of The Robert Silverberg Science Fiction Megapack. (13% into preview)
Short Stories About Aliens, Cont’d
“Birds of a Feather” by Robert Silverberg
The narrator and his small staff are on MacTavish IV, recruiting for their zoo on Earth. Regulations limit the circumstances under which aliens can visit Earth. There’s a long line of aliens who want a spot on the roster. The narrator runs a tight business and gets his employees as cheaply as possible. One of the interviewees is Gorb of the planet Wazzenazz XIII. He looks and sounds exactly like a human.
This story can be read in the preview of The Robert Silverberg Science Fiction Megapack. (44% into preview)
“Precious Cargo” by C. H. Hung
The USS Marilyn Barton is a bioship, carrying a large human delegation. One of Marilyn’s rooms is sagging and has turned a sickly yellow. Doctor Thrasher is working to fix the problem. The life of the ship and the passengers are at risk. Normally, a bioship knows what is wrong with it, but the deterioration happened too quickly in this case. Marilyn needs to be healthy enough to get everyone to Aurigae Prime.
This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: Infinite Expanse. (23% into preview)
“The Cassandra Project” by Jack McDevitt
NASA is preparing to return to the moon. At the press conference, a reporter asks about a story in a tabloid, The National Bedrock. The Russians have released never-before-seen lunar pictures from the sixties. On the far side of the moon, one of them shows a dome, suggesting an alien presence. It’s dismissed as a joke, but the picture looks legitimate. Jerry, the US public relations person, confers with his Russian counterpart and tries to figure out what’s going on.
This story can be read in the preview of Lightspeed: Year One. (17% in)
“The Johnson Maneuver” by Ian Douglas
Sergeant Carl Shaeffer is on Cernunnos at the Earth Contact/Liaison facility, the embassy. There’s unrest in the city of Karnon, and a mob of locals are gathered outside. Shaeffer wants permission to go weapons-live, but his boss, agent Warner, says no. The senior administrator to the ek-Cha’a’s Hierarchy’s Chief also assures them that the mob won’t attack.
This story can be read in the preview of Armored. (20% 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)
“Sunrise on Mercury” by Robert Silverberg
As the Leverrier approaches Mercury, Second Astrogator Lon Curtis decides to end his life. He suddenly leaves his station and heads for the reactor compartment. Flight Commander Ross notices the unusual behavior and follows. Curtis has got the disease and will have to be kept confined for the duration.
This story can be read in the preview of Born of the Sun: Adventures in Our Solar System. (40% in)
“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu
The narrator describes how five different alien species pass on their wisdom by making books.
This story can be read in the preview of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. (14% in)
“They’re Made Out of Meat” by 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.
“I Am the Doorway” by Stephen King
Arthur has told his friend that he was used to kill someone and then buried him nearby. It all started with his flight to Venus. On the way back, there was an accident that left him badly beaten up and in a wheelchair. His hands are bandaged and itch him terribly. Arthur says he’s a doorway for a creature that can somehow see through his hands.
Short Stories About Aliens, Cont’d
“The Third Expedition (Mars is Heaven!)” by Ray Bradbury
A space ship with a crew of sixteen lands on Mars. To everyone’s surprise, Mars looks like small-town America in the 1920’s. Captain John Black is hesitant to leave the ship, but after confirming the atmosphere is breathable, he allows a small party to disembark. The ship’s navigator and the archaeologist offer theories to explain what they see. They approach a house. (Summary)
“Reunion” by 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.
“Brothers Beyond the Void” by 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.
“A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny
The narrator, Gallinger, is busy translating one of his own works into Martian when he gets the news that the Martians will receive him. He’s a particularly talented linguist, the first human to learn classical Martian, and now the first to learn their “high language”. He’s going to be allowed into the Temple to read the sacred texts.
Read “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” (PDF Pg. 5)
“Collector’s Item” by Robert F. Young
The Galactic Historian is finishing up an unprecedented undertaking—the complete history of 10,000 races in a single volume. After he extracts the important events from the source materials, they get destroyed, making the new document the definitive guide to galactic history.
Read “Collector’s Item”
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
The narrator, Enn, follows his friend Vic to a party. Vic talks to girls easily while Enn is awkward. Vic assures Enn that he just has to talk to the girls and everything will be fine. They are greeted at the door by Stella, a beautiful girl whom Vic immediately flirts with. Enn is left to navigate the party by himself.
“Ylla (I’ll Not Ask For Wine)” by Ray Bradbury
Mr. and Mrs. K are Martians who aren’t happy anymore. One day Mrs. K has a dream about a man, tall with blue eyes. This sounds ridiculous to Mr. K, as Martians don’t have these traits. She fills in more details of the dream. She thinks it would be fascinating if there were people from another planet who could travel through space to visit them.
“First Men in the Moon” by H. G. Wells
A physicist, Cavor, develops a new material with anti-gravity properties he calls cavorite. He constructs a spherical spaceship with the material. Accompanied by a writer, Bedford, he sets out for the moon. On landing, they encounter an insect-like native species, Selenites.
The novel-length version of this story seems to be much more common than the shorter one.
“The Fire Balloons” by Ray Bradbury
A delegation of Episcopal priests led by Father Peregrine go to Mars as missionaries. While there’s a human colony on Mars, Father Peregrine plans to focus on the Martians and possibly discover new sins. Upon arriving they find their task will be difficult. There are two kinds of Martians—one is very hard to find, and the other are luminous globes of light.
Read “The Fire Balloons”
“Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
In isolated Antarctica, researchers find an alien ship buried in the ice. While attempting to thaw the ship, they retrieve a frozen alien. When it thaws, it revives. The alien has abilities that make it a major threat.
Some of this story can be read in the preview of Things from Outer Space. (Novella) This one fits into both categories.
Short Stories About Monsters
“The Colomber” by 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. (Summary)
“Scattered Showers with a Chance of Daikaiju” by S. G. Browne
Etsuko is concerned about the weather this weekend. She’s been invited to the birthday party of one of the popular girls. Her father is a meteorologist so, if it rains, her classmates will act like it’s somehow her fault. The forecast is good, for the weather and for daikaiju. There hasn’t been an attack this far south in many years.
This story can be read in the Amazon preview of Lost Creatures: Stories.
“The Thing in the Pond” by Paul Ernst
Gordon Sharpe visits his old mentor, Professor Weidbold at his country house, and he’s brought an elephant gun. There have been reports of a monster in the nearby pond and he’s going to check it out. (Summary)
“Click-Clack the Rattlebag” by Neil Gaiman
A young boy asks a visitor, his sister’s boyfriend, to tell him a bedtime story. They start the long walk upstairs. The boy talks about Click-Clack the Rattlebag. The boyfriend isn’t familiar with this and asks him a bit about it. (Summary)
“The Birds of Azalea Street” by Nova Ren Suma
The police questioned three teenage girls about the murder. No one is connecting it to the birds. The girls had been wary of Leonard for some time. The adults just thought he was a nice guy. The girls saw a car pull into his driveway in the middle of the night. He had a guest, which was unusual for him.
This story can be read in the preview of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.
“—·——•—·—” (unpronounceable title) by Gahan Wilson
Reginald Archer sees a lopsided black spot on his bright white tablecloth. He points it out to his butler, Faulks, who assures him it will be removed. Reginald goes to his study to deal with some paperwork. He sees another spot. He calls Faulks again.
This story can be read in the preview of Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman.
“A Walk in the Dark” by Arthur C. Clarke
Robert was at Camp IV preparing to leave for Port Sanderson. His tractor broke down, and now he has to walk. He’s covered about two miles, and now his flashlight has gone out. He has four miles to cover and four hours before the Canopus, the last ship for a month, takes off. It’s difficult traveling in the dark. The planet’s moons are tiny, and there are hardly any stars.
This story can be read in the preview of In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.
“The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury
The narrator and McDunn are manning a lighthouse. It’s a lonely life with lots of time for thinking about the sea. McDunn reveals it’s the anniversary of an unusual event; it might happen again.
“The Fog Horn” is the first story in the Amazon preview of A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories.
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” by Richard Matheson
Wilson sits on a plane that’s preparing for takeoff. He’s shaken by the thunderous noise of the engines. He isn’t feeling well, physically or mentally. He rushes into the bathroom and tries to calm himself. He returns to his seat and tries to sleep, but can’t. Looking out the window, he sees something moving around on the wing.
This is the first story in the preview of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories.
Short Stories About Monsters, Cont’d
“The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles” by 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.
This is the seventh story in the preview of The Big Book of Modern Fantasy.
“I Left My Heart in Skaftafell” by Victor LaValle
A black man from America is traveling through Iceland alone. He came because he likes the cold, and to avoid marriage back home. Although the Icelanders like him well enough, he’s not paid too much attention. The Africans don’t acknowledge him at all. He notices a man-sized troll on the bus, who seems to be following him around.
This story can be read in the preview of Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond. (20% in)
“Suffer the Little Children” by Stephen King
Miss Sidley is a small, graying, no-nonsense teacher. She’s able to use the reflection in her glasses to monitor the class even when her back is turned. During a spelling lesson, she see Robert, a quiet student, change in some way. It’s only a flicker, and when she spins around he looks perfectly normal and composed. The next day, she experiences the feeling that the children are somehow different.
“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.
“I, Cthulhu” by Neil Gaiman
Cthulhu narrates his memoirs to his human servant, Whateley. He starts with his birth on his home planet thousands of years ago, and tells how his father and mother came to their end. A visit from his uncle, Hastur, leads to an exploration of other worlds. They eventually decide to head for Earth.
I’ll keep adding short stories about aliens and short stories about monsters as I find more.