Author Topic: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories  (Read 2284 times)

BooksAdmin

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Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« on: February 24, 2017, 12:19:43 PM »
Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories




There are a lot of good short stories in this field.  Let's share some of our favorites, just for a little fun, not too serious.

The Nine Billion Names of God  Arthur C. Clarke

The Arm of the Law  Henry Harrison

The Golem  Avram Davidson

The Cartographer Wasps and Anarchist Bees  E. Lily Yu

The Fountains  Ursula K. LeGuin

Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge  Mike Resnick

Arena  Frederick Brown

Kirinyaga  Mike Resnick

Enter a Soldier.  Later: Enter Another.  Robert Silverberg

Someone to Watch Over Me  Nancy Kress

The Women Men Don't See  James Tiptree, Jr.

Discussion leader: PatH

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2017, 12:58:50 PM »
The Nine Billion Names of God
Arthur C. Clarke



This tiny gem is a classic, so you may very well have read it.  It isn't new, as you can see from the technology, but it's timeless.  With updated computer technology, it could have been written just yesterday.  Here's the link; enjoy.

The Nine Billion Names of God

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2017, 05:26:33 PM »
What a fun idea!

Here is one by Harry Harrison that I've always liked. When I searched to find an online copy (besides the Gutenberg site) I found this YouTube "read along" audio presentation. Nicely done. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Dp2i0uHZqQ

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2017, 05:56:33 PM »
The Clarke really sticks with you.  Anyone who doesn't know anything about Clarke, could one guess his religious orientation from the story?

Frybabe, I'm about to check out the Harrison.

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2017, 06:53:38 PM »
Off to read the two stories. Didn't wev read the Clarke one here once?

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 07:07:30 PM »
OK,  I read the Clarke. Yes, we did read it before here, but it's still good.

What religion is Clarke? No idea. Probably made up his own? what do you all think?

Off to read FRYBABE's.

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 07:32:12 PM »
Good idea by the public library. People can read along with the story. I'm afraid  I'm too impatient for it. y curse is,  read too fast, and miss stuff. But I get irritated if I have to slow down. Hope I never have to rely on books on tape.

back to Clarke, if you believed as these monks do, would you get a computer? I notice Clarke doesn't tell the story from the monk's point of view.

bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2017, 10:09:20 PM »
Fun idea PatH.  I never read Sci-Fi so this will be a nice change for me.  Off to give both of them a read, will be back to comment tomorrow since the two grandkids are spending the night.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2017, 08:59:43 AM »
For anyone who joins JoanK and me in preferring to read rather than listen, here's The Arm of the Law in print.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29204/29204-h/29204-h.htm

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2017, 07:59:41 PM »
The Arm of the Law is a nice example of robot stories of the 1950s, in which there is an element of surprise in how much the robots act like humans.  Tomorrow I'll put up another '50s robot story with a very different take.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2017, 10:08:16 AM »
The Golem
Avram Davidson

Avram Davidson wrote sci-fi, fantasy, and detective stories.  This gentle sci-fi/fantasy showcases his low-key sense of humor and warm humanity--worth a few chuckles.  I'm sorry for the annoying website.  It seems to be a sample from a book, and I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the highlighting.  There is over a page of description of the author, then the story starts without a title, but you can spot it by the wider line width.  I haven't had trouble with it skipping pages, but someone else did.  If you have problems, let me know and I'll troubleshoot.  The story is worth it.

The Golem

bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2017, 01:25:35 PM »
Hmmm... I just don't know what to make of this short story The Nine Billion Names of God.  It ends with an unknown.  We don't know if the computer finished the names and we don't know if Chuck and George made it to their destination. Only looking up to the skies into the unknown.  Is the purpose of the story to show us life is all unknowing and unending?  I'll have to give this some more thought.  I didn't see this so much as Sci-fi.

My hubby went golfing with his brother one day a few years ago, he came home and said he thinks his brother has fallen away from the Catholic church and has gotten himself into some sort of crazy religion.  I asked why he felt that way, he said because his brother believes the world is coming to an end in just a couple of weeks away.  I laughed and said, "Well when are the two of you going golfing again?"  Hubby replied, "In three weeks."  I said well the next time you go golfing you may want to ask your brother now what.  They met at the golf course in three weeks, played a round of golf, went to lunch and my hubby asked him now what since the date has come and gone.  He had no answer.  Kinda like this story.  Predictions have run a muck over centuries.  As  scripture states, 

Mark 13:32  32 "But as for that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2017, 03:41:45 PM »
I don't think Clarke has any very deep purpose with his story.  Mainly, I think he wants to give us a shock of horror and weirdness with the ending.  We assume that the computer did finish, that the monks were right, and the whole universe is ending.  The uncertainty makes it even more memorable.  If it starts us pondering, that's good, but I don't think he's pointing toward any particular conclusion.

I like the story of your brother in law.  If he thought the world was going to end, why did he make another golf date?

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2017, 04:40:32 PM »
The image at the end of the story is certainly memorable. t gives me chills just thinking about it.

 read FRY'S robot story. Didn't expect the ending. now 'll see what PAT's robot can do.

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2017, 04:59:04 PM »
"the Golem" is really funny! I miss Yiddish humor.

What about the rest to you. Which robot story did you like better? Do you like the idea of using the introduction of a robot to shine a light on the everyday?


bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2017, 10:36:21 PM »
Frybabe's robot story reminded me of a cartoon my grandkids would watch.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2017, 07:30:31 AM »
I've just ordered Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation from the library. The Editor, Ken Liu is not only a translator, but he has also written some of his own Science Fiction/Fantasy. Not only that, he is a lawyer and a computer programmer. He has a long list of awards for his translations and original stories, including 9 awards from Hugo and 8 awards from Nebula.

Occasionally, I check on https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/ to see what new short stories and reviews they have posted.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2017, 08:48:51 AM »
Frybabe, if you see something there that fits this discussion, feel free to post it here.

I've read one or two of Ken Liu's short stories.  They're good. 

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2017, 08:52:11 AM »
Do you like the idea of using the introduction of a robot to shine a light on the everyday?
That's one of the strengths of science fiction.  Shift something in the real world, and use that to examine people from a different angle, throw fresh light on ourselves.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2017, 10:21:20 AM »
Did you like The Golem?  I love the way he turns a nameless horror into a minor interruption, not even worthy as news in a letter to a relative.

For anyone not familiar with the legend of the Golem, Mr. Gumbeiner's summary is faithful to the original story, the rabbi in Prague making the creature out of clay and breathing life into it withe written name of God.  It's been used a lot in literature since then.

bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2017, 11:21:09 AM »
I've never cared much for Sci-fi, I guess you could say I am more pragmatic.  When I read Sci-fi or go to a movie I am always trying to make things fit logically and sensibly.  Super heroes and super powers irritate me because my mind knows it's just not possible.  When my sons were young and watched the Batman and Spiderman shows I would constantly tell them it was all not real.  They would say, "Mom stop saying that it ruins it for us.  We like believing it's real."  When I was growing up I did like watching The Twilight Zone because it was such a phenomenon and a bit scary.   
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2017, 11:41:08 AM »
When I was a child, I liked to watch Superman, and sometimes I got to listen to The Green Lantern on the radio. But, I don't care for superheroes now. Never watched Wonder Woman or Zena, let alone the current craze. I did watch one or two Batman movies years ago, when they first came out. I thought Jack Nickolson did a whopping good Joker.

The Golem was funny. It reminded me of Stiller and Meara. I could here their voices as I read.

BarbStAubrey

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2017, 02:58:55 PM »
Followed the link and laughed so hard reading the short story - first I cannot imagine a Tibetan monk in a monastery even concerning himself with the number of names given to ID God - (PS wasn't there a book popular a few years ago, something the 1000 names of God, something like that) anyhow then reading the idea of the future death of mankind - again laughed - this writer sure does not believe in science does he - no nod to evolution.

I can see it now - we become more and more dependent upon technology that our bodies will atrophy to the size of a single atom and a big wind blows us all together where lightening strikes and we explode creating an alternative universe as small as a digital pin but room enough for billions of atoms as long as we do not move too much and cause another explosion. About as preposterous as matter disappearing  ;)

Never understood this whole thing of preachers talking for God - now ruling for God, that is a power trip and we have had many religions based on just that. Ah so - if this is science fiction I would enjoy more science.

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2017, 04:14:16 PM »
Barb, maybe not in that short story, but Arthur C. Clarke did give a big nod to evolution (in a SciFi way) in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Religious themes and characters often showed up in his writing.

JoanK, you asked what religion Clarke was. He once proclaimed himself an atheist in his autobiography, but he also said in a CNN interview that he didn't believe in God, but he didn't not believe in her either. That would make him more of an agnostic, whil a few of his comments lead people to believe he was more of a Deist in philosophy.  He didn't believe in religion (or organized religion) and he didn't believe in predestination.

Oh, Barb. your comment about alternate universes and bodies atrophying to the size of an atom reminds me of the movie Men in Black where the bad guys were after a large marble sized universe which was attached to a cats' collar.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2017, 05:30:52 PM »
Actually, Clarke was a scientist.  Without looking it up, I think he worked on radar development in WWII.

His books give the impression of someone who has no formal religious beliefs, but isn't comfortable with this and is kind of looking for an almighty substitute--super-wise extraterrestrials or something.  For example Childhood's End, or 2001.

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2017, 06:46:05 AM »
Clarke promoted the idea of using a geostationary satellite to use as a relay for radio and TV signals. I actually thought he had something to do with inventing or building TelStar, but I guess a lot of us were mislead on that point. Here is a nice article giving the history of TelStar that The Register in the UK published back in 2012.  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/10/telstar_anniversary/

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2017, 08:08:06 AM »
He was also a big campaigner for geosynchronous space stations with elevators leading up, as jumping off points for space travel, especially in "The Fountains of Paradise", which alternates the building of such on a thinly disguised Ceylon with flashbacks to a more or less accurately described very colorful ancient ruler of the island.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2017, 08:10:38 AM »
I'm traveling today, so you won't see much of me until evening.

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2017, 10:18:52 AM »
I was just looking at that book on one of the used book sites. I'd like to order Neil McAleer's biography of Clarke. Clarke's brother also has a book out about him which was published in 2012. The blurb says there is never before published stuff in it.

Safe travels, Pat.

bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2017, 02:36:58 PM »
Safe travels PatH.!!!! 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

BarbStAubrey

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2017, 12:21:40 AM »
Just learned that protons are older than the universe

http://www.abarim-publications.com/QuantumPhrases.html#.WLXN__JLO14

For a typical human of 155 lbs, there are almost 7*10^27 atoms (that's a 7 followed by 27 zeros!) Another way of saying this is "seven billion billion billion." Of this, almost 2/3 is hydrogen, 1/4 is oxygen, and about 1/10 is carbon. These three atoms add up to 99% of the total!

Of that, 4.7^27 would be hydrogen atoms, which have one proton and one electron each. Another 1.8^27 would be oxygen, which has 8 protons, 8 neutrons and 8 electrons. There are 7.0^26 carbon atoms, which have 6 protons, 6 neutrons and 6 electrons...one of 5 elements in the human DNA is composed of 6 protons

And so, not only are we made from the stars, as Saigon pointed out and Joni Mitchell sang, but our body is made of protons that are older than the universe. Not only our body but all living matter contain protons that are older than the big bang...

Then as an analogy to human behavior - Protons mutually repel each other because of their electric charge.  ;)  ;D

bellamarie

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2017, 01:17:07 PM »
ha, ha, ha......  I had to laugh at the last sentence Barb,
Quote
Then as an analogy to human behavior - Protons mutually repel each other because of their electric charge.
 

So as Paul Harvey would end his radio commentary with...."So now you have it."

I've missed your knowledge and humor Barb, glad to have you back even if it's in small bits. 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Jonathan

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2017, 06:11:46 PM »


'I'm traveling today, so you won't see much of me until evening.'

Should we crank up the search and rescue? Or would that be an exercise in futility? Were we wrong in assuming Pat meant conventional travel? In her previous post she talked about space stations and the Fountains of Paradise. Should we send the Golem to find her?

I've read the story of the Golem. I found it heartbreaking. Granted that it was a big help for the elderly Gumbeiners, it must have been humiliating for the Golem to be reduced to mowing lawns. For anyone wanting to know more, I reccommend Elie Wiesel's  The Golem.

You're right, Joan. There's nothing like Yiddish humor, and the culture that gave it birth. I remember reading something about it years ago in a book: Number Our Days. A community of elderly, Yiddish speaking 'characters' in Venice, California. A marvellous story. I must find it and reread it. Lots of laughs along with much else. The book was the work of a professional anthrapologist.

Good Night, Pat, wherever you are.

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #33 on: March 02, 2017, 06:24:15 AM »
I found this interesting short story, this morning, in a magazine that is new to me. Clarkesworldhttp://clarkesworldmagazine.com/yu_04_11/  I get the story, except for the point of the last line.

E. Lily Yu is an American SciFi writer who won the John W. Campbell Award for Best Writer in 2012. "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" was nominated and was a finalist for a bunch of awards.

The editor and publisher of Clarkesworld, Neil Clarke, is no relation to Arthur C. Clarke as far as I know.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2017, 01:43:49 PM »
Jonathan, I'm in Portland, OR, easily reached by conventional travel, and not a space station in sight.  It does contain a fine science fiction author, though, Ursula K. LeGuin.  When I come here, I hope to run into her somewhere, but it hasn't happened.

PatH

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2017, 01:55:02 PM »
That's an interesting story, Frybabe.  The author is American.  Do you know if she was born here?  It reads a bit like something a sufferer under the Chinese system would write.  Who destroyed the anarchist hive? Or does anarchism always destroy itself and then rise from the ashes to fight against totalitarianism?

Even though we are gone,"Write" and carry on our ideas?

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #36 on: March 02, 2017, 03:16:16 PM »
Ah, mystery solved.

I just made the mistake of looking up Anarchism. Now I am going to have to reread the story, and learn more about Anarchism. It has a very long history.

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #37 on: March 02, 2017, 03:16:45 PM »
PAT: I'm glad you're back on our planet. It's small, and in the boonies, but it's home.

JoanK

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #38 on: March 02, 2017, 03:34:42 PM »
FRY, PAT: I read your story, and I didn't understand the ending either. Why are the anarchists gone? Perhaps the author is referring to an actual historical event, and is describing it in disguised Sci-Fi form.

Frybabe

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Re: Science Fiction/Fantasy Short Stories
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2017, 04:24:33 PM »
Joan, my guess is that anarchists are extremely independent, don't want to be told what to do, do as they please, when they please. They believe in free and spontaneous work, etc. That is very simplistic, considering that little I read into anarchism, but my best guess with the story is that the anarchists, like the grasshopper in the Grasshopper and the Ant fable, goofed off, didn't do the work necessary to maintain a cohesive community structure and suffered a catastrophic fate as a result.