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Best Science Fiction Story

(not included in this list!):

Again let me repeat, this list omits any SPACE-themed or TIME-themed or "END-of-the-WORLD" themed stories - they get their own "best lists"! In a way this is only cool ideas and stylistic impact compilation.

FIRST PLACE Best SF Story (1920-1960)

James Blish (as Arthur Merlyn) "Sunken Universe"

SECOND PLACE Best SF Story (1920-1960)

Jerome Bixby "It's a Good Life"
Robert A. Heinlein "...And He Built a Crooked House''
Henry Kuttner "Cold War"; "Ex Machina"
"Exit the Professor"; "Gallegher Plus"; "Happy Ending"
"Pile of Trouble"; "The Proud Robot"; "See You Later"
"Time Locker"; "The World Is Mine"
Stanislaw Lem "The Limphater Formula"
C. L. Moore "No Woman Born"
Clark Ashton Smith "The Seed from the Sepulcher"

THIRD PLACE Best SF Story (1920-1960)

Robert Abernathy "Single Combat"
Brian Aldiss "Gene-Hive" ("Journey to the Interior")
"Old Hundredth"; "But Who Can Replace A Man?"
Poul Anderson "The Chapter Ends"; "Ghetto"
Isaac Asimov "The Last Question"
"Robot AL-76 Goes Astray"; "Runaround"
J. G. Ballard "Billenium"; "The Concentration City" ("Build-Up")
"Chronopolis"; "Manhole 69"
Alfred Bester "Fondly Fahrenheit"
Anthony Boucher "The Star Dummy"
Ray Bradbury "The Smile"
John W. Campbell "The Voice of the Void"
Garen Drussai "Woman's Work"
Lester Del Rey "Helen O'Loy"
William Earls "Traffic Problem"
John Russel Fearn "Brain of Venus"
Raymond Z. Gallun "Terror Out Of The Past"
Horace L. Gold "No Charge for Alterations"
Lee Harding "Quest"
Daniel Keyes "Flowers for Algernon"
Damon Knight "Four In One"
Henry Kuttner "Camouflage"; "The Ego Machine"
"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" ; "This Is The House"
Fritz Leiber "The Night He Cried"
Frank Belknap Long "The Flame Midget"
Ib J. Melchior "The Racer"
Walter Miller Jr. "Dumb Waiter"
Rog Phillips "No Greater Wisdom"; "The Yellow Pill"
Frederick Pohl "The Tunnel Under the World"
Fletcher Pratt "The Thing in the Woods"
H. Thompson Rich "The Beast Plants"
Nat Schachner "Stratosphere Towers" Robert Sheckley "The Last Weapon"; "The Prize of Peril"
"The Seventh Victim"; "Specialist"
Clifford Simak "Skirmish"; "Crying Jag"; "Earth For Inspiration"
Clark Ashton Smith "The Dark Age"
"The Dimension of Chance"; "The Metamorphosis of Earth"
Cordwainer Smith "The Game of Rat and Dragon"; "Scanners Live in Vain"
Margaret St. Clair "The Counter Charm"
Theodore Sturgeon "It"; "Killdozer!"; "Largo"; "Saucer Of Loneliness"
William Tenn "Wednesday's Child"
Walter Tevis Jr. "Farnsworth' Eye"
A. E. Van Vogt "The Monster" ("Resurrection"); "Ship of Darkness"
Donald Wandrei "Strange Harvest"
Stanley Weinbaum "The Adaptive Ultimate"
Jack Williamson "The Moon Era"

FOURTH PLACE Best SF Story (1920-1960)

Brian Aldiss "All the World's Tears"; "A Kind of Artistry"
"Out Of Reach"; "Outside" ; "Psyclops"
"Dumb Show"; "T"; "Ten-Story Jigsaw"
Poul Anderson "Details"; "The Martyr"
Robert Arthur "The Eternal Moment"; "The Wheel Of Time"
Isaac Asimov "Each an Explorer"
"I'm in Marsport Without Hilda"; "Nightfall"
Stephen Barr "Callahan and the Wheelies"
J. G. Ballard "The Voices Of Time"
Robert Bloch "Comfort Me, My Robot"; "The Spoiled Wife"
"Wheel And Deal"
, "I Like Blondes"; "The Girl From Mars"
Hannes Bok "One Touch of Terra", "Web of Moons"
Nelson Bond "The Monster from Nowhere"
Anthony Boucher "They Bite"
Ray Bradbury "I'll Not Look for Wine" ("Ylla"); "The Record"
Miles J. Breuer "The Captured Cross-Section"
Howard Browne "C/O Mr. Makepeace" (as by Peter Phillips)
Kenneth Bulmer "Station HR972"
John W. Campbell "Atomic Power"; "Forgetfulness"; "Night"; "Twilight"
Arthur Clarke "The Other Tiger"
Alfred Coppel "And Goal To Go"
Ray Cummings "The Thought Machine"
A. J. Deutsch "A Subway Named Mobius"
Avram Davidson "Or All the Seas with Oysters"
Roger Dee "Travelogue"
Lester Del Rey "Instinct"; "Into Thy Hands"; "The Years Draw Nigh''
August Derleth & H. P. Lovecraft "Witches Hollow"
Phillip K. Dick "Autofac"; "Captive Market"; "The Commuter";
"The Crawlers"; "The Indefatigable Frog"; "The Little Movement"
"The Minority Report"; "The Mold of Yancy"; "Nanny"; "Pay for the Printer";

"Paycheck"; "Piper in the Woods"; "The Preserving Machine"
"Prize Ship"; "Recall Mechanism"; "Roog"; "Service Call"
"The Short, Happy Life Of The Brown Oxford"
"The Unreconstructed M"; "Upon the Dull Earth"; "War Veteran"
Gordon R. Dickson "Black Charlie" ; "Listen"
Harlan Ellison "Blind Lightning"; "A Case of Ptomaine" ("Mealtime")
"The Crackpots"; "Eyes of Dust"; "In Lonely Lands"; "Life Hutch"
"The Silver Corridor"; "The Sky Is Burning"' "Worlds to Kill"
Carol Emshwiller "Pelt"
Paul Ernst "The Microscopic Giants"; "Protoplasmic Station"
Charles E. Fritch "Geever's Flight"
John Russel Fearn "Earth Mausoleum"
Francis Flagg "The Synthetic Monster"
Oscar J. Friend "The Molecule Monsters"; "The Worms Turn"
H. B. Fyfe "Protected Species"
E. A. Grosser "The PsychoMorph"
Wyman Guin "Beyond Bedlam"
Raymond Z. Gallun "Davey Jones' Ambassador"
"Seeds of the Dusk"; "Trail Blazer"
Tom Godwin "Brain Teaser"
James Gunn "Every Day Is Christmas";
"A Monster Named Smith"; "Teddy Bear"
Russell Hays "The Beetle Experiment"
Benson Herbert "The World Without"
Edmond Hamilton "The Accursed Galaxy"; "Devolution"
"The Earth-Brain"; "The Man Who Evolved"; "The Seeds from Outside"
Henry Hasse "He Who Shrank"
Robert A. Heinlein "Goldfish Bowl"; "The Menace from Earth"
Raymond F. Jones "The Unlearned"
Myer Krulfeld "The Thing From Antares"
Walter Kubilius "Eternal Earthling" ("The Other Side")
David Keller "The Life Detour"; "The Thing in the Cellar"; "The Worm"
Daniel Keyes "Robot - Unwanted"
Damon Knight "Babel II"; "The Country Of The Kind"
C. M. Kornbluth "The Mindworm"
Henry Kuttner "The Black Sun Rises"; "Call Him Demon"
"Don't Look Now"; "The Elixir of Invisibility"; "Housing Problem"
"Masquerade"; "Reverse Atom"; "Shock"; "Two-Handed Engine"
"What You Need"; "When the Bough Breaks"
Fritz Leiber "A Bad Day for Sales"; "The Enchanted Forest"
"I'm Looking for "Jeff"; "A Pail of Air"; "Pipe Dream"
"The Ship Sails at Midnight"; "Wanted - An Enemy"
``The Foxholes of Mars''
Murray Leinster "The Aliens"; "De Profundis"
"Dead City" ("Malignant Maradeur") ; "The Devil of East Lupton, Vermont"
"The End"; "Keyhole"; "A Logic Named Joe"
"The Lonely Planet". "The Lost Race" ("The Duplicators")
"Med Ship Man"; "Nobody Saw the Ship"; "Sam, This Is You"
Stanislaw Lem "The Darkness And The Mold"
Milton Lesser (as Stephen Marlowe) "The Last Revolution"
Frank Belknap Long "Critters"; "Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall"
"Step Into My Garden", "The Flame of Life"
Robert A. Lowndes "The Abyss"; "Descent"
John D. McDonald "Spectator Sport"
Richard Matheson "Little Girl Lost"
Walter Miller, Jr. "The Big Hunger"
P. Schuyler Miller "The Cave"; "Dust Of Destruction"
"Old Man Mulligan"; "Tetrahedra of Space";
"The Thing on Outer Shoal"
William F. Nolan "The Joy of Living"
Alan E. Nourse "High Threshold"
Chad Oliver "The Boy Next Door"
Rog Phillips "Executioner No.43"
Frederick Pohl & C. M. Kornbluth "Before the Universe"
"Best Friend"; "Mars Tube"; "Nova Midplane"
Frederick Pohl "The Midas Plague"; "We Purchased People"
Arthur Porges "The RUUM"
John Rackham "Nulook"
Ed Earl Repp "Beyond Gravity"; "From Out of the Earth"
Eric Frank Russell "The Case For Earth"; "The Mechanical Mice"
"The Sin of Hyacinth Peuch"
Joseph Shallit "Wonder Child"
Nat Schachner "The Orb of Probability"
James Schmitz "We Don't Want Any Trouble"
Michael Shaara "Be Fruitful and Multiply"; "The Sling And The Stone"
Robert Sheckley "Early Model"; "Hunting Problem"
"Keep Your Shape" ("Shape"); "The Language Of Love"; The Leech"
"Love, Incorporated" ("Pilgrimage to Earth"); "The People Trap"; "Warm"
"Prospector's Special"; "Restricted Area"; "Trap" (as Finn O'Donnevan)
Clifford Simak "Carbon Copy"; "Contraption"
"Galactic Chest"; "Tools"; "The World That Couldn't Be"
Cordwainer Smith "The Burning of the Brain"
"Golden the Ship Was - Oh! Oh! Oh!"
Margaret St. Clair "An Egg A Month From All Over"
(as by Idris Seabright); "Horrer Hawce"
"Short In The Chest"(as by Idris Seabright)
R. F. Starzl "Out Of The Sub-Universe"; "The Radiant Enemies"
Theodore Sturgeon "Brownshoes" ("The Man Who Learned Loving")
"Derm Fool"; "Exalibur And The Atom"; "The Golden Egg"
"Microscopic God"; "The Travelling Crag"; "Cargo"
Dwight V. Swain "Henry Horn's Super-Solvent"
William Tenn "Bernie The Faust"; "Child's Play"
"Errand Boy"; "The Flat-Eyed Monster"
Theodore L. Thomas "The Good Work"
F. Orlin Tremaine "Son Of The Stars"
A. E. Van Vogt "Dormant"; "The Earth Killers"
"The Replicators"; "The Sound"
Jack Vance "Chateau D' If" ("New Bodies For Old")
Harry Walton "Intelligence Test"
Bryce Walton "Dreamer's World"; "When Better Budgies Are Built"
Donald Wandrei "Colossus"; "The Destroying Horde"; "Giant Plasm"
"The Red Brain"; "A Scientist Divides"; "Spawn Of The Sea"
"Blinding Shadows"
James White "Christmas Treason"
Jack Williamson "The Cosmic Express"; "Guinevere For Everybody";
"The Ice Entity"; "The Infinite Enemy"; "Non-Stop To Mars"
"Operation: Gravity"; "Through The Purple Cloud"
Richard Wilson "Love"
Donald Wollhelm "Mimic"; "The Rag Thing" (as David Grinnell)
John Wyndham "Pillar To Post"; "Random Quest"
Robert F. Young "To Fell a Tree"
Arthur Leo Zagat "Beyond the Spectrum"


Also see: (full navigation tree)

Best SF Novel (General Themes)
Best Space SF Novel
Best Time SF Novel
Best Apocalyptic SF Novel


Best SF Series (general themes)
Best Space SF Series

Best SF Novella 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Novella 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Novella 1920-1960
Best Space SF Novella 1961-now
Best Time SF Novella
Best Apocalyptic SF Novella

Best SF Story 1920-1960 (general themes)
Best SF Story 1961-now (general themes)
Best Space SF Story 1920-1960
Best Space SF Story 1961-now
Best Time SF Story
Best Apocalyptic SF Story





Best Fantasy Story 1920-1960
Best Fantasy Story 1961-now




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Collecting Pulp Magazines

Ephemera Interview with Avi Abrams

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

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These awards are given in the following categories:
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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
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