Story About Sacrifice: Short Stories About Sacrifice

In these stories about sacrifice, characters make a sacrifice, either of themselves or someone else, or it’s a theme. The beneficiaries may or may not appreciate what was done for them.

Stories About Sacrifice

“The Rocket” by Ray Bradbury

Fiorello Bodoni wakes at night and goes outside to listen to the rockets flying to Mars, Saturn and Venus. He’s a junk dealer, but has managed to save enough money to send one family member on a rocket ride. An acquaintance tells him this is doomed to fail because the rest of the family will resent whoever goes. His children are excited about the possibility. (Summary)

“The Rocket” can be read in the sample of Bradbury Stories(25% in)

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. (Summary)

This is the first story in the preview of 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories.

“Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu

The remaining 1,021 humans are aboard the Hopeful, headed for 61 Virginis. Hiroto’s family followed the evacuation plan of the Japanese government, as citizens of other nation’s followed theirs. The situation didn’t go smoothly. Hiroto monitors the solar sail that powers the vessel. (Summary)

This story can be read in the preview of The Future is Japanese (12% in)

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. (Themes)

This is the first story in the preview of The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories.

“The Girl from Down-town” by Susan Glaspell

At quitting time, Millie hurries out of the big store where she tends the handkerchief counter. She’s happy because she’s headed for her new place, a room she rented yesterday. It’s by the university and the lake. She likes the buildings and the girls she’s seen around there. The room will also have a view, unlike her old place, and will be much more pleasant.

This story can be read in the sample of The Rules of the Institution and Other Stories (58% in).

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 Pelican” by Ann Pilling

A family visits the site of an elevated castle while on vacation. It’s raining so they go inside the adjoining church where they find pelican imagery. When they go outside and look toward the river, they’re surprised by what they see. (Summary)

“Winky” by George Saunders

Neil Yanicky attends a self-help conference at the Hyatt. The audience wears paper hats colored to reflect how much help they need. A scene that illustrates the forces holding people back is acted out on stage. Tom Rodgers, the founder of the Seminars, tells his story of personal growth and success, which involved getting rid of someone who was holding him back. Neil feels the same way about his sister. (Summary)

“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)

“Promises to Keep” by Jack McDevitt

Sawyer remembers his mission to Callisto, a moon of Jupiter. The ship was old, as were all the others, and government support for the space program was waning. They want to explore Jupiter one day, but that is unlikely. Cathie made a Christmas video to send home in the hope of boosting public interest. The crew is finished in this system. They have a little celebration and prepare to return.

This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Second Annual Collection(63% in)

“Mazer in Prison” by Orson Scott Card

Mazer is responsible for defeating the invading Formic force as a lower-level officer. Now, he’s the commander-in-waiting for the next confrontation—the human attack on the Formic home world and colonies. He will be in the Solar system, communicating and coordinating all the fleets by ansible. The problem is it will take decades for the fleets to reach their targets. Mazer has been sent out on a near-lightspeed courier, away from and then back to Earth, during which time he will only age about five years.

This story can be read in the preview of Federations(8% in)

Stories About Sacrifice, Cont’d

“The Overcoat” by Sally Benson

Mrs. Bishop can’t afford a taxi home from her bridge night. She’s annoyed at not having more money. She plans to confront her husband about it. On the subway, she sympathizes with a man in a worn out overcoat. (Summary)

Read “The Overcoat”

“The Bishop’s Silver” by Victor Hugo

While in town running errands, Madame Magloire, the housekeeper, hears about a vagabond who’s been spotted and is probably up to no good. She tells the bishop but he seems unconcerned. There’s  a loud knock at the door. A tired but fierce looking man enters. Madame Magloire and Mademoiselle Baptistine, the bishop’s sister, are frightened. The man is a convict, released only four days ago. He can’t find an inn that will take him due to his past. He’s looking for a place to stay the night.

This story is an excerpt from the novel Les Misérables. 

“An Unnatural Mother” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A few village women make a negative judgment on Esther Greenwood who recently died. They claim she deserted her child and, as a result, the child is now under the care of the town. One of the women points out how the village benefitted from Esther’s actions, but she’s quickly contradicted. A boarder from the city overhears the gossip about this unnatural mother and wants the full story.

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.

Read here

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.

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.

I’ll keep adding short stories about sacrifice as I find more.