Some Great SF, Fantasy, and Horror Short Stories

  • A BOY AND HIS DOG Harlan Ellison
  • CALL FIRST Ramsay Campbell
  • GIANT KILLER A.Bertram Chandler
  • IDLE DAYS ON THE YANN Lord Dunsany
  • NEMESIS Arthur C.Clarke
  • ONE CLAY FOOT Jack Wodhams
  • OUR LADY OF THE SAUROPODS Robert Silverberg
  • SECOND NIGHT OUT Frank Belknap Long
  • XEETHRA Clark Ashton Smith
  • BAY WOLF Neil Gaiman
Author Comments: 

The Charnas is the best vampire story I've ever read. The Godwin presents an excruciating moral dilemma. The Campbell really spooked me. The Wells is a haunting story about the loss of childhood innocence. The Chandler is the best story about intelligent rats you'll ever read. The Effinger is set on Asimov's "Nightfall" planet and is roll-on-the-floor funny. The Clarke is about comeuppance (is that how you spell it?) after a LONG time. The Wodhams is the only convincing description of a space-battle I've read. If you've ever been on a sea-cruise, the Long will make you shudder. The Bester is about a man who acquires his own personal defense satellite. The Gaiman is written in blank verse and is based upon an epic poem that dates from the Dark Ages, Beowulf.

Have you read Dunsany's 'Complete Pegana'? I just got it and it sounds great.

No, I've not read that one. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction lists a title THE GODS OF PEGANA (pub.1905); the title you mention may be a re-publication of this. I'm mainly into science fiction. I only have a couple of Dunsany titles; my fantasy collection consists mainly of titles by H.P.Lovecraft and C.A.Smith - I think Smith deserves to be more famous than Lovecraft.

I read more fantasy than sci-fi and I also read horror and a mystery or regular fiction once in a while. I like Smith too but not as much as Lovecraft. I tend to like longer works better and I haven't read any from Smith yet. I've read the 'Zothique' collection and I'm working my way through 'Genius Loci and other stories'. I also have a couple of other collections.

About the Pegana thing I'm not sure if it's a bunch of stories or just 3 big ones. It's divided into 3 sections. Anyways, I'll let you know when I read it. Sounds interesting anyways.

If you're into fantasy, you must surely have read at least some of Fritz Lieber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" series. If by some mischance you haven't, do so a.s.a.p. - it's great. I can also recommend two comedy-fantasy novels by Charles G.Finney: THE MAGICIAN OUT OF MANCHURIA and THE UNHOLY CITY - short, and very funny.

Well I read the first 'Fafard and Grey Mouser' book a long time ago (more than 10 years), but at the time I thought it was kinda dry. I have liked some of Leiber's other stuff though especially his 'The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich' kind of Lovecraftian horror.

Thanks for the recs. If you're looking for stuff to read, try You rate a bunch of stories and then they match you up with people who rated the stories the same way. Then they give you a list (ranked and with a confidence value). It's really cool and free. Currently there's about 10,000+ users and the more users the more ratings, the more ratings the more accurate it becomes. They also sell electronic stories if you're into that.

Leiber's F&GM improved into a very successful series. Try some of the later stories - they all stand independently. You might also like THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, a four-volume novel by Gene Wolf; it's been classed as sf, but it has a very fantasy-like feel about it.

Thanks for the ADL URL, I'll give it a try when I get sick of The Listology [Hi,Jim!].

Hopefully that won't happen anytime soon. I say you should be required to train a replacement before you move on. :)

Actually Jim I thought it was kind of interesting because where Alexlit is a quantitative way of linking people together and suggesting, in this case, stories, that you will like. Your site does the same thing but qualitatively.

When people I don't know say, "You have to read this, it's the best book ever written." It basically means nothing to me. BUT given the persons background (via their lists) I can make a better judgement on whether we (in Alexlit terms) are 'neighbors' or not. Alexlit does all the grouping for you but it's all numbers and rankings . Listology lets people make intuitive inferences that Alexlit can't (like I hate all books with teenage girls as the main characters). But Alexlit combines the opinions of 200 people that are your 'closest neighbors' so when you have 200 people saying this book is great or it sucks it means more than reading a single review. You should check it out, it may give you some ideas for the site.

I was just referring to Bertie getting bored with The Listology, not his checking out the other site. :)

Actually, I will check it out myself (as you suggested). And you hit the nail on the head regarding The Listology in relation to similar sites that do matching. I have tried various "collaborative filtering" tools for recommendations, and I have yet to find one that was as reliable as finding a specific person of similar taste to get recommendations from. Hence, this crackpot scheme. I like to think of it as collaborative filtering with the humanity restored.

I got the joke and actually I felt kind of weird, like, "Oh shit, he caught me talking about another website on his site and thinks I'm trying to seduce his people away." So I was just trying to let you and Bertie know that, while Alexlit is cool, Listology does fill a gap left by number crunching collabrative filters.

I actually got your URL from a girl in an Audio/Video class I'm taking. The assignment was to post to the class's bulletin board 5 sites that had free sound files. For some reason she post you're site first. With just the dictionary definition as a description. I thought maybe it was a shameless plug for her own site but I guess not.

I have had the New Sun books forever I just can't seem to get to them. I will sooner or later though, they sound great. I'll also probably try out another of the F&GM books sooner or later too. I've got about 600 books I haven't read yet and I read pretty slow so hopefully I'll get to them before I kick the bucket.

I know just what you mean; I was once in a similar situation (of having about 600 unread books) - but then there came the day of the Great Winnowing, and, voila! I only had about 450 unread books. But eventually I got through them. Trouble is, my 1200 volume sf/fantasy/horror collection (which is about 90% sf) contains many books I now want to re-read, but stuff - such as more new, unread books - keeps getting in the way.
So now I'm reduced to being EXTREMELY selective about what I attempt to re-read - which is, I tell myself, the way it should be.

I have a kind of 'hot list' of about 30 books that I'm trying to get through. But try as I might I still end up adding new books to it so some get pushed back.

The only way I do rereading is when it's on tape and part of a series. When I want to remember details before continuing with a series that I started a long time ago. I probably only read about 30 books a year but then do another 30-50 on tape. So I try to be more selective of the books I actually read. The one's on tape are no big deal because I would have been driving doing nothing anyway so even if they suck I'm not wasting my time.

Hey, great idea - the tape thing! Believe I'll give that a try. And I might even be able to borrow some tapes from the public library. Many thanks.

Yes definitely check out the library. I've never bought an audio book, that's where I get all mine. If your system is like mine you can have them get stuff from other libraries too. The St. Pete library system doesn't have that many good audio books but Clearwater does so I have them do intralibrary loans.

Getting a bit more current, how about adding some of those great Connie Willis short stories or, even more current, Kage Baker "The Company" short stories (her novels belong on a different list--MENDOZA IN HOLLYWOOD is the latest and very good.

You've hit on my weakness here. I haven't been keeping up adequately with the recent stuff. Don't devote as much time to reading as I once did. Can you recommend a Willis and/or Baker collection?

hi bertie! since you seem to have a vested interest in SF, i have a question for you: have you heard of a book called PSION? it's one that i read in HS and involves a future in which some people have the power of telepathy...the protagonist is named Cat, i think. does this sound familiar? i'd like your help if you know what i'm talking about....thanks.

I don't now about "a vested interest", but I certainly have an interest. Looks like this is the book you're referring to.
Haven't read it myself. If you scroll down the page you'll find a bunch of reviews.

ok maybe not a "vested interest"...whatever the true meaning of that is....quibble, quibble, quibble, it's fun to quibble! it seems that most of your books lists are you definitely are a fan of that genre to say the least...thanks for finding the book for me!

Hey Bertie,

Haven't talked to you in a while and I know you hang out here quite a bit. Hope everything's going well. I tried to use my supernatural powers to summon you over on the Amazon boards (Bertie! Bertie! Bertie!) but I think there must have been some disturbance in the psychic effluvium in my area because it didn't work.

Just wanted to tell you I read _In a Sunburned Country_ from Bill Bryson about a month ago (it's all about Australia) and I just started _Out of a Silent Planet_, which you suggested a long time ago. I finally found all three books on tape. So far, so good, very Well-sian. And speaking of Wells I just did _Island of Dr. Moreau_ on tape too. Pretty good but not his best work.

Talk to you soon...

G'day Rhaam, nice to hear from you. I haven't visited the Refugees, not even to read them, for a couple of months now. I guess there's no psychic connection between us. Have things quieted down any over there? I much prefered the cosy intimate atmosphere of Don't Peek.

Lewis's OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET is the first novel in a trilogy, the other two being PERELANDRA (a.k.a. VOYAGE TO VENUS) and THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. I recommend PERELANDRA as the best of the three, even though it's less science-fictional than Silent Planet. Interesting that you should find the novel Wellsian, because Lewis, a devout Christian, was writing in conscious opposition to the outlook of Wells, an atheistic socialist. THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU has been filmed three times that I know of, most recently with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando. The novel raises several interesting issues, including such matters as the extent to which we are and are not ourselves still animals, the potential of science and technology to produce radical changes in human and animal nature, and the biological basis of morality: "Are we not men?"

What's the general consensus on what creature Karellen is in Clarke's 'Nemesis' short story? Thanks

There is no character Karellen in 'Nemesis'; rather, Karellen is a character in Clarke's novel Childhood's End where he (or it) is of an alien race who resemble devils.