Short Story + Collections

Often, the best stories are short, because there is (usually) little room for meandering plots or multi-chapter arcs of villainy and redemption. The utter simplicity of the surrounding settings allows a single character, story, or idea to mature in relief without the baggage of supporting characters and motivations. Many of these are slice-of-life stories as well, which explore the mundane by deconstructing our everyday life experiences. They are a welcome relief from the often breakneck pace of other genres.

The Cat's Pajama (and other stories) by Ray Bradbury

There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

The Ones who Walked Away from Omelas by Ursula K LeGuin

Mongoose, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

Ambiguity Machines and other Stories, by Vandana Singh
There is little I can say about Vandana Singh that has not been said by far better writers than me. What I can add is my personal feelings about her writing, which is sublime. She brings a touch of the ethereal and mythic to her work, interweaving ancient stories and themes from India into modern science fiction tropes. Her work is familiar because of her cultural references, from a story centering around Babul Mora (an old song), to a story about metaphorical machines that map imagination to reality, much like the boons of Hindu rishis. Often plot is set aside for characters, and it makes for a refreshingly dense read where I find I often have to go through a story more than a few times to get at the center thread of the multi-layered, multi-dimensional ideas Dr. Singh is sewing around.

Shakespeare's Kitchen, by Lore Segal
Shakespeare's Kitchen follows Ilka Weisz as she struggles with her move from New York to a think tank in Connecticut. She finds friendship, loss, drama, and romance through a series of elegant dinners and business meetings. Through her eyes, we see the frantic life of a newly appointed faculty, a well-meaning but careless young man, and the easygoing wisdom of a senior faculty well versed in the professional but lacking in the personal.

Justice Systems in Quantum Parallel Probabilities, by Lettie Prell
A fantastic literary sci fi story that explores the myriad justice systems we could have in lieu of the current ineffective and inefficient construct pervaded by systemic racism, injustice, and rank corruption. The story explores a few systems in brief: a placid world where perpetrators turn themselves in from the weight of the social contract and suggest apropos punishments; a harsh world where even the slightest missteps are punishable by death; a raving world where a person must choose between a sane and insane judge and where more people choose the insane judge because "hey, at least you have a chance"; and my favorite, a world where petty crimes are taken in jest and only serious, big crimes are punished.