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Our Favorite SFF Short Story Collections

Some of the best science fiction is, and has always been, told in short form. Magazines in the early 20th century brought science fiction into mainstream consciousness, and collections like I, Robot and The Martian Chronicles defined the genre. Today’s short fiction writers are no less revolutionary and take advantage of this format to explore a wide range of voices in their protagonists, playing with the possibilities of story-telling. We’ve collected some of the our favorite stunning sci-fi collections here. Let us know what you would add in the comments.

By Julia Bergen

Place holder  of - 82To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu

From the author of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series (if you haven’t read it, get on that before the Netflix series comes out), this collection spans his writing career. It’s a great range of work, playing with form, space, and time. Cixin Liu is truly a master story teller, and even readers who aren’t hardcore SF readers will be enthralled. I dare you not to cry while reading The Village Teacher. I dare you.

Image Place holder  of - 58How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin

This doesn’t just have one of the best names in science fiction and fantasy collections, it also has some of the best stories. Featuring both fantasy and science fiction, this collection delves into a wide range of subgenres including Afrofuturism, alternate history, and climate fiction. There’s a reason why N. K. Jemisin is the first author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three times in a row, and her short fiction is just as strong as her novels.

Poster Placeholder of - 65Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is a master at imagining the horrifying implications of things like technology, security, and privacy, and his chilling imagination is on full display in this collection of four novellas taking place in eerily possible futures. Come for the speculative romp, stay because you literally cannot look away.

Image Placeholder of - 14Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang’s 1998 short story, Story of Your Life, was the basis of the 2016 Academy Award-nominated film Arrival, and his 21st century short fiction continues to question the role and future of humanity. He uses beloved science fiction concepts, like time travel and artificial intelligence, but approaches them from a deeply humanistic viewpoint and with a skill level in story-telling that few can match.

Placeholder of  -34Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson

Now this is a SF collection that’s just plain fun. Brandon Sanderson is known for fantasy novels you need two hands to lift, but he’s just as good at shorter science fiction. In this collection he takes advantage of his world-building and character creation abilities to constantly surprise the reader and draw us in to a world like our own, but different in ways that only Sanderson could imagine.


5 Near-Future Visions of the World

by a frog

In a world where our future is uncertain, science fiction authors have always imagined what society may become. Near-future science fiction stories are an exercise in how the present can predict our future. Sometimes, they’re also a warning.

New York Times bestselling author Cory Doctorow says his latest near future sci-fi novel, Radicalized, was “written to master my own concerns as the darkest timeline has only gotten worse.” These stories force us to confront the consequences of our actions and the system that dictates why and what we do. Here are five new and upcoming titles that envision what’s in store for the Earth and its next generation.

Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Placeholder of  -34Doctorow introduces us to tales of immigration, corruption, and survivalism against the backdrop of a dark American future in his collection of urgent science fiction novellas.

In the title story, “Radicalized”, people are dying at the hands of America’s insurance companies. Their illnesses are curable, but necessary treatments are unaffordable without the financial assistance these companies refuse to provide. The people choose to suffer silently no longer and launch an uprising against the companies holding their health hostage. Amidst the violence, a man is desperate to secure funding for an experimental drug that could cure his wife’s cancer.

Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

Place holder  of - 13Vigilance is a dark science fiction action parable of an America that has permanently surrendered to gun violence, and it’s only a few years away.

In the year 2030, “Vigilance” is a reality game show that tests the ability of American contestants to detect foreign and domestic threats. Survivors of the game receive a cash prize if they can outlast the shooters in the “game environment,” and executive producer John McDean is about to find out what it’s like to be a contestant.

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

Poster Placeholder of - 72In Neuvel’s vision of near-future Britain, the British Citizenship Test is far more than a series of questions about the country, its laws, and its history.

Idir Jalil is taking the citizenship test on behalf of himself, his wife, and his two children. He believes he is prepared, but when his exam takes an unexpected turn the powers of life and death fall into his hands. Like an episode of Black Mirror, the reality of this novella seems terrifyingly close.

Waste Tide by Chen Qiufan; translated by Ken Liu

Image Place holder  of - 15The world of Waste Tide is even closer than you might think. It was inspired by Qiufan’s experience growing up near Guiya, China, where the largest e-waste recycling center in the world is located.

The UN has referred to the area as an “environmental calamity.”

In the world of Waste Tide, protagonist Mimi is a waste worker on Silicon Isle, an island off the coast of China submerged in the world’s electronic waste. Migrant workers come for a chance at a living wage and a better life, but conflicts between those in power, local gangs, and eco-terrorists are bubbling to the surface. When it seems like all out war will break out, Mimi must decide whether she will uphold the status quo or try to shape a new world.

Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder

Image Placeholder of - 64From the author of Lockstep, comes a near-future science fiction, hacker heist. In mid-21st century America, total surveillance is the norm. The developers of the surveillance networks are also responsible for building  popular LARP game worlds, the only place where one can escape the watchful eyes of smart-glasses and the world network.

In Stealing Worlds, Sura Neelin is jobless and on the run and the game worlds may be her only opportunity to escape and find a better life.

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