Explore Science Fiction Short Stories

Have you been enjoying this season of One Book, One Chicago, exploring the theme of Imagine The Future and the world of science fiction? After you’ve read this year’s book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, you might find yourself wanting to read more. But where to start, with so many wonderful science fiction writers?

One great way to sample a lot of authors at once is through short story collections, and there are several great science fiction short story collections we recommend.

If you like the speculative or alternate history style of science fiction, you’ll enjoy the new collection A People's Future of the United States. Set in America, each story examines a future that might be – from women who turn into dragon riders to a flourishing Mexico after “The Wall” is built, to space colonies or American refugees. Contributing writers are a diverse group, including N.K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders and Omar El Akkad.

For a great overview of contemporary science fiction that might help you discover your next favorite author, take a look at the latest entry in the annual series The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018, guest edited by N.K. Jemisin this year. Superheroes, sentient spacecraft and cyborgs are just a few of the characters in these stories from a diverse group of contemporary writers.

For sci-fi with a more vintage feel, The Future Is Female! collects influential women writers from the 1920s through the 1960s, writing stories way ahead of their time in the male-dominated science fiction genre. Authors include sci-fi foremothers like Ursula K. Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr, and Judith Merril, among many others.

Going even further back to the origins of the genre, fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will enjoy Frankenstein Dreams. Victorian era science fiction from writers like Jules Verne, Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells show how early in our history writers were imagining space travel, dystopias, and machines. Despite the many years that have passed, these stories stand the test of time.

Science fiction writers from other countries are becoming more popular in America as their work spreads. The science fiction genre has become quite popular in China in recent years, but Americans are just beginning to discover some of the great Chinese science fiction writers. Broken Stars collects great authors including Hugo award winners Liu Cixin and Hao Jingfang. Stories include tales of alternate Chinese history, a robot who lies, and a time traveler who warns of future environmental disaster.

From Brazil, Solarpunk is a new collection that envisions humanity in a world of green energy, solar power, and environmentalism. Spotlighting Brazil’s best science fiction writers, this eco-conscious anthology will introduce you to new voices in the “climate fiction” arena.

Writers from countries including Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic, and Guyana come together in Shades Within Us, twenty-one stories of people traveling through countries, lands, and space. Stories about new frontiers, migration through time travel, and the immigrant experience in future or other realities explore what home means.

Speculation regarding gender has often been a science fiction topic. Transcendent 3, edited by Bogi Takacs, brings together stories that ask what gender identity and our relationship to our bodies means, today and in the future. From non-binary parenting in the future, to time travel, to steampunks, to a woman living life through a horror movie lens, these unique and entertaining stories showcase trans characters like few other things you may have read.

Here’s to finding your next favorite science fiction writer through short stories! Do you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments, and happy reading!  

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