Great Short Stories
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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I mean published short stories you can read, not stories about games.

If you have a favorite short story, list title and author and why you like it.

Thanks!

Update February 26, 2008: Clearly this list has grown beyond my expectations, many thanks to all contributors. I started it as a list to try to get recommendations matching my tastes, but you people are having so much fun on your own, just please continue to list your favorite short stories!
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1. Board Game: The Perfect Crime [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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The Crime Wave at Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse.

This is just about the perfect short story to my tastes. While Wodehouse is best known for the Wooster & Jeeves stories (and I do love most of them), he really outdoes himself in this story. Fast-paced, hilariously funny, wonderful characters, superb choice of words, leaves you wishing it were longer - just perfect.
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2. Board Game: Wine Cellar [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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A Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.

Any list of great short stories must include Poe! This one has always been my favorite of his. I first read it when I was very young - too young to really understand the story. I had no idea what many of the words meant or how to pronounce them, but I loved this tale of Montresor's vengeance. For the love of God, Montresor!
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3. Board Game: Maske [Average Rating:5.70 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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The Moon Moth by Jack Vance.

Vance is my favorite science fiction writer - the most entertaining I've ever read. While I love his novels more than his short stories, this story has always struck me as excellent. It's almost written from a cultural anthropologist's point of view. On the surface, it's a short murder mystery, but what's wonderful about it is the exploration of the strange culture where everyone is always masked.
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4. Board Game: X is for uneXplained [Average Rating:4.31 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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Plus X by Eric Frank Russell.

While Vance may be my favorite SF author over all, Russell is my favorite SF short story writer. It was hard to pick just one, but this story of captured Terran spaceman Leeming who uses psychological warfare to get his freedom is high on the list. Very funny, fast moving - typical Russell.
 
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5. Board Game: You Just Became a Millionaire [Average Rating:5.08 Unranked]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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The £1,000,000 Bank Note by Mark Twain.

Another one I read when very young and the situation completely grabbed me. The wooing scene is a bit saccharine, but otherwise this is a wonderful story I've reread and enjoyed many times.
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6. Board Game: O'Connor's Offensive [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:7361]
Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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Last one, then I'll leave the list open for your suggestions.

First Confession by Frank O'Connor.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing the first time I read this story. I recently re-read it - in fact, it's what inspired me to make this list - and it was still just as funny as it was years ago. 7-year-old Irish boy Jackie wrestles with his conscience about wanting to murder his grandmother and trying to stab his sister as he faces his first confession in the Catholic church. Priceless!

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7. Board Game: Tricky Trash Truck [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Tom O'K
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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Interesting geeklist... I guess I'll bite.
Roog by Philip K. Dick

Dick is my favorite SF author and one of my favorite authors of short stories, and out of all his brilliant stories this may be my favorite. It's not even sci-fi, but like good SF it shows you an alternate world, and through that world it teaches you a little about the one you live in. The story is from the perspective of a dog, but I don't want to say much more because the experience of slowly coming to an understanding of what is happening in the story is wonderful.
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8. Board Game: 6 Billion [Average Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:13780]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clark. This short story whacked me in the back of the head just when I wasn't expecting it.

The best game title I can find is still off by 33 1/3%.
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9. Board Game: Yellow Submarine [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Ryan
United States
California
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The Yellow Pill, by Rog Phillips

I somehow stumbled across this story about 20 years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. It's a story about a psychiatrist, his patient and a yellow pill.

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10. Board Game: Age of Steam: The Moon [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
pronoblem baalberith
United States
Pleasantville
Massachusetts
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Is it just me or do my balls itch?
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Booker prize winner on the human condition. A shed, with consciousness envies the garage nearby, longs to ride a bicycle and nurtures its children... pickles fermenting inside.

The Life and Adventures of Shed Number XII by Victor Pelevin from the collection 4 By Pelevin.

http://www.bombsite.com/issues/79/articles/2481

(game link would be best for his novel Omon Ra... but moon train = Yellow Arrow + Omon Ra two of his other works)
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11. Board Game: ? [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Dennis Leung
United States
Half Moon Bay
California
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One of my favorite short stories is The Last Question by Isaac Asimov. You can find it online here:

http://filer.case.edu/dts8/thelastq.htm

Although I was a huge science fiction fan (and Asimov fan), I only found this gem recently. Unlike a lot of his works, this one hasn't aged that badly. I haven't had the time to read as much as I wish I could, but this one's a shortie but goodie.
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12. Board Game: Dead of Night [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:5005]
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (was a short story and a novel)

The innovations and religions of a society are based on its environment.
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13. Board Game: Cosmic Journey [Average Rating:1.00 Unranked]
Kevin Li
United States
Illinois
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There is a short story by John Barth called "Night-Sea Journey" that has always been stuck in my head ever since I first read it.

Ostensibly, it is the narrative of a creature as it travels through the Night-Sea, but as you read the story it soon becomes clear what the "creature" really is. At this point I thought I had it all figured out, but gradually the author transforms the story into a metaphor for something much more fundamental. And so this story has left its indelible mark upon me.
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14. Board Game: Mississippi Queen: The Black Rose [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
David Kahnt
United States
Youngstown
Ohio
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

Full Text

Great short story. One of my favorites.

-DK
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15. Board Game: Tick Tac Tock [Average Rating:3.83 Unranked]
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman

Harlan Ellison


Ellison is an author who sort of fits into his own mold and no one else's, even among SF writers. This is a wonderfully irreverent little story.
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16. Board Game: Light Speed [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2324]
Darin Stephenson
United States
Holland
Michigan
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I do not run and hide... I strategically maneuver.
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I'll add Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw. I've taught a seminar course at my college four times, each time with a slightly different topic. I've managed to teach this story in the first week every time, though. Short, even for a short story, at about 5-6 pages.

Seems to be in full text here.

Edit: to add the full text link.
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17. Board Game: Master Labyrinth [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2071]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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The Library of Babel, by Jorge Luis Borges
Available in the short-story collection Labyrinths, published by Norton, or online

I've read almost all of Borges' short stories multiple times, in addition to many of his essays. His ability to explore a contradictory idea or fantastical world in just a few pages amazes me. The ideas are always central to his work, not the characters, and that's extremely appealing to me as I've consistently taken that approach in my own fiction.

Back in college, I "wrote" a paper on Alain Robbe-Grillet's novel La Jalousie by stringing together quotes from Borges' short stories, most of them written at least a decade before the novel, into a coherent text. The paper was about 90% Borges as I was able to use his fictional creations to comment on the masterful experiment in La Jalousie.

(And looking up Robbe-Grillet to see what he might have published in the past decade shows that he died less than a week ago. Hmmph. Yet another artist I really appreciated, yet never thanked. Someday I'll have to sit down and start cranking out the thank you letters.)
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18. Board Game: The Kaleidoscope Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Matt Davis
United States
New Concord
Ohio
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Kaleidoscope

Ray Bradbury

This is in The Illustrated Man. A really chilling story, I think, partially because it's not so fantastic.
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19. Board Game: Busen Memo [Average Rating:4.80 Overall Rank:15106]
Robert Rossney
United States
San Francisco
California [CA]
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The Naked Lady, by Madison Smartt Bell.

This story's a masterpiece. It has everything: sex, whiskey, coffee, violence, art, and the serpent. I read it maybe 25 years ago and I think about it nearly every day, mostly when I wake up and feel like calling out "Is it any coffee left that you know of?"

You can find it in Zero dB and Other Stories, and if you subscribe to Harper's it's in the paid area of their web site, too.
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20. Board Game: Mamma Mia! [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1277] [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Robert Rossney
United States
San Francisco
California [CA]
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Inn Essence, by Ralph Lombreglia

Lombreglia never quite took off as a writer, but this story's just fabulous. There's a whole world inside the little on-the-verge-of-success restaurant that it's set in, and at is black heart is a malevolent, psychotic pastry chef, a brilliant genius who goes too far and get a fantastic comeuppance. Includes one of my favorite lines ever: "Nobody understands the boy-girl stuff, not even God."
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21. Board Game: Nuclear War [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:2296] [Average Rating:6.21 Unranked]
Robert Rossney
United States
San Francisco
California [CA]
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Game, by Donald Barthelme

Shotwell keeps the jacks and the rubber ball in his attaché case and will not allow me to play with them. He plays with them, alone, sitting on the floor near the console hour after hour, chanting "onesies, twosies, threesies, foursies" in a precise, well-modulated voice, not so loud as to be annoying, not so soft as to allow me to forget. I point out to Shotwell that two can derive more enjoyment from playing jacks than one, but he is not interested. I have asked repeatedly to be allowed to play by myself, but he simply shakes his head. "Why?" I ask. "They're mine," he says. And when he has finished, when he has sated himself, back they go into the attaché case.

It is unfair but there is nothing I can do about it. I am aching to get my hands on them.


You should read everything by Donald Barthelme that it is possible for you to find. Everything. Snow White. The Dead Father. Paradise. "Some Of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby." Everything.
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22. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:336]
Robert Rossney
United States
San Francisco
California [CA]
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The Twonky, by Lewis Padgett.

Actually by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, which is who "Lewis Padgett" was. They wrote dozens of witty, inventive, and delightful SF stories, mostly in the 1940s.

This isn't their best, but it's pretty great, and it's the only one I could think of that inspired a character in a board game.
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23. Board Game: That's Life! [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1494]
Gilad Yarnitzky
Israel
Reut
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What is life by Robert Sheckley. It has a funny surprising ending and is only 3 pages long. Many of Sheckley's short stories are funny. I think I should re-read his books that I have'nt opened for the last 15 years
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24. Board Game: Personality Probe...? [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Paul Boos
United States
Falls Church
Virginia
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A Teardrop Falls by Larry Niven. Niven is absolutely my favorite author and this is perhaps one of my favorite short stories of all time. It was the first to introduce me to his use of personalities impressioned onto computers (he uses it extensively in his novels The Integral Trees and Smoke Ring also). I chose the game Personality Probe as it was the "remora" program that the computer-based personality used to copy himself into the Bezerker's brains. The image is from Laser Attack, just because it looked menacing.

Now for a bit of help - there was a short story in Omni magazine back in the 70s or 80s; it dealt with these ant-like creatures that were bought as pets and would worship their owners as gods, even carving their likeness onto their structures. Anyone remember the author and name of that story?

Nice list!
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25. Board Game: Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:13306]
Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
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"The Happy Despatch" by Patrick O'Brian.

O'Brian is most famous for the Aubrey/Maturin series which clocks in at around 6000 pages. Yet the plot of each book can easily fit a paragraph. O'Brian's descriptive voice (especially regarding nature and human nature) easily fills out whatever length he uses.

The last sentence of this story is one of the funniest (yet haunting) things I've read recently.
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