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Hiatus Three

Top Five Science Fiction Stories

As I've mentioned before some genres just work really in a short story form. I've written bout how the set up and pay off in horror works well in small word counts to create a spooky premise, raise the tension, and spring the scare . Another genre that works well in the short story medium is science fiction.

This is not surprising as science fiction as a popular genre was born from short story magazines and journals in the early-mid 20th century. Science Fiction needs to explain an imagined technology or premise and explore the implications and themes of that premise on society. Good science fiction will usually reflect back realties of our own society through the distortions of the fictional one being explored. While it is certainly possible for these explorations to be complex and in depth novels or sagas, like with horror, it actually doesn't take many words to set up the technology/society being explored, raise the tension, and conclude with a moral question/lesson.

Looking back I read a lot more science fiction over the course of the last year then I initially thought, and without it necessarily being a goal (like reading all horror for the month of October) I ended the project with a scattering of sci-fi short stories to choose from. Below are my top five sci-fi short fictions of 52 short lives:

5. The Eyes Have It: This short comedic story by prolific sci-fi author Phillip K Dick is a silly and fun musing on language. It follows a protagonist who believes he has uncovered a conspiracy of an alien invasion because of clues found in a novel. The clues? Descriptions of people with "wandering eyes" who "lend their hands". This light hearted story is great for anyone with appreciation of puns and love of language.

4. A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury is one of those sci-fi stories whose ideas have become a staple in our pop culture. Bradbury's concept of a society that uses time travel to sell safari packages feels like a great commentary on our capitalist society, like if we ever event time travel of course that's we would use it. This story also features some of the first explorations on the theme of the butterfly effect: the concepts of cause and effect, and the importance in the smallest lives and choices. Also there's a dinosaur.

3. Flowers for Algernon: One of the most emotionally moving stories across the 52 weeks of this project, Daniel Keyes makes use of the epistolary or "found footage/found notes" style of narration to tell the story of a man with a mental disability undergoing an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. Like many great works of sci-fi the story contains the speculation and exploration of a new technology, in this case the experimental surgery, but also has moral and philosophical themes surrounding our society's views on intelligence, and compassion.

2. Robbie written by another sci-fi legend, this time Isaac Asimov, Robbie is a story about a boy's relationship with the robot designed to be his friend. As I wrote about in my post for this story what I love about Asimov is that his writings about technology and the future was not all doom and gloom and fear. This story has a very optimistic outlook on the relationship between humanity and machines, and is a great intro to Asimov's short story collection I, Robot (all of which are great and I recommend).

1 The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K Le Guin is one of my favourite stories in the whole project. This story doesn't explore a technology but rather a planet/city with a unique society. The story posits that everyone is this society is happy, and it is a philosophical exploration on the cost of that happiness. This story doesn't give answers, but rather asks fascinating questions amongst great world building and I just really loved it. I think everyone should read this one. The prose, the world building, the themes, this one just works on every level.

There you have it. What does your immediate future hold? Some reading maybe...?


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