15 Most Memorable Stories

October 1st, 2010

So I just succumbed to one of those facebook memes:

Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen short stories (or novelettes or novellas) you’ve read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what stories my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note.)

(in no particular order)

1. Sandkings by George R. R. Martin

2. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

3. The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin

4. The Star by Arthur C. Clarke

5. Neutron Star by Larry Niven

6. Unaccompanied Sonata by Orson Scott Card

7. Feedback by Joe Haldeman

8. Dinosaur by Walter Jon Williams

9. Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly

10. Guts by Chuck Palaniuk

11. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

12. Peaches for Mad Molly by Steven Gould

13. Persistence of Vision by John Varley

14. Thor Meets Captain America by David Brin

15. Day Million by Frederick Pohl

Honorable mentions: Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson, Into the Miranda Rift by G. David Nordley, Dying in Bangkok by Dan Simmons, All Summer in Day and A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, The Hole Man by Larry Niven, Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw, Of Mist, Grass, and Sand by Vonda McIntyre, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth and Home is the Hangman by Roger Zelazy, Flowers of Aulit Prison by Nancy Kress, Marrow by Robert Reed, Dogfight by William Gibson and Michael Swanwick, Nightfall by Issac Asimov…Hmm, now that I’ve given it more than 15 minutes I might revise the list!

I don’t read short stories as often as novels.   Most of my short story reading has been restricted to classic anthologies, Dozois’s Year’s Best Anthologies, Hartwell and Cramer’s hard science fiction anthologies, a few years in the 1990s when I did read Analog and Asimov’s regularly (and reviewed for Tangent sometimes).   I focused primarily on science fiction, but let slip in a few stories like “Guts” I read in Playboy a few years back that disturbed me quite a bit at the time.   Not too many stories by women writers on my list or honorable mentions, I see…hmmm….I like short stories by Octavia Butler, Connie Willis, Nancy Kress, and Vonda McIntyre, among others, but it seems they didn’t strike me as “most memorable,” and a lot of the newer women writers I like seem to write really high quality prose, stylish stuff, when frankly it’s idea that sticks with me best.   I can’t second-guess my list — the stories on my list have really hung around in my brain, when hundreds of others have vanished.

What sticks with you best?   What are some of your most memorable stories?


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