In these stories characters make a sacrifice, either of themselves or someone else.
The Gift of the Magi | O. Henry
A poor husband and wife try to figure out how to get each other a nice Christmas present.
This is the first story in the preview of The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories.
The Gay Old Dog | Edna Ferber
Jo Hertz is a plump, lonely bachelor of fifty. The narrator tells us Jo’s story from the age of twenty-seven when his mother died and she got him to promise to put his life on hold until his three sisters were cared for.
This is the first story in the preview of 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.
2 B R 0 2 B | Kurt Vonnegut
Life is almost perfect—no prisons, poverty, wars, disease or death. The US population is maintained at 40 million. Edward Wehling is at the hospital, and is in despair. His wife is going to give birth to triplets. Due to population control, this is a major problem.
This is the first story in the preview of Worlds of If Superpack #2.
“Appropriate Love” by Greg Egan
A woman is told that her husband, the victim of a train wreck, is going to survive. However, he will need a new body. There’s too much damage to rebuild. They have insurance that will cover the procedure—growing a new body and keeping the brain alive in the meantime. A recent development in the field is cheaper than the usual procedure. Their policy dictates they’ll only pay for the cheapest option.
This is the third story in the preview of The Best of Greg Egan. (49% into Kindle preview)
“The Cold Calculations” by Michael A. Burstein
A non-human is dying in the vacuum of space. Before his mental pathways deteriorate completely, he wants to leave a record of what happened. Lieutenant Jason Sawyer was leading the Zecca on a rescue mission to Titan base. They were down to their last backup generator and the lives of the fifteen crew members were at risk. Jason’s only crewman was Zec, a robotic AI that could run the ship.
This story can be read in the preview of Fantastic Stories Presents: Science Fiction Super Pack #1. (10% 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)
Holiday | Katherine Anne Porter
A young woman goes on holiday to a Texas farm owned by a German family. There she meets Ottilie, a deformed, physically disabled servant girl.
Bellflower | Guy De Maupassant
A narrator gives us a recollection of the life of Mother Bellflower, an old seamstress with a bad leg and a mysterious past.
The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant | W. D. Wetherell
A fourteen-year-old boy who loves fishing spends his summer vacation at his family’s cabin. He’s infatuated with seventeen-year-old Sheila Mant, from the cabin next door. He watches her longingly for some time before asking her to a concert.
The Hero | Gabriele D’Annunzio
The citizens of Mascalico have a procession and offer sacrifices to their patron Saint. One of the men helping with the procession gets injured.
Read here (Page 460)
The Sin Eater | Margaret Atwood
The narrator talks about her therapist, Joseph. He told her about a Wales tradition where a person known as a Sin Eater would be called to eat a meal over a dead body. This would transfer the dead person’s sins to the eater, thus clearing the deceased’s way to heaven. When Joseph has an accident, the narrator find out about his life from his ex-wives and other patients.
The Derelict | Pauline Johnson
Cragstone was full of promise, but proved to be mediocre in all his endeavors. After becoming an Anglican priest, he fell in love with Lydia, a mixed-blood woman who had been dismissed from her post, accused of theft.