I don’t read much fiction, and when I do my schedule isn’t really conducive to reading long novels. (The last novel I read took me over five years. Seriously.) But I recently discovered that I can get through short story collections very quickly. I can manage about ten pages a day on my commute to and from work, which suits me just fine.
I’ve found the SDMB to be an excellent source of media recommendations, so I am hoping that people here might suggest some short story collections for me that are similar to the previous ones I’ve read and enjoyed. There are exactly two of these, both in the genre of science fiction or speculative fiction:
[li]I just finished Store of the Worlds, a collection of short stories by Robert Sheckley. Sheckley is great at writing imaginative, thought-provoking stories with unforeseeable twists. The tales, often in a futuristic or sci-fi setting, deal with social, philosophical, logical, legalistic, or ethical questions, often taking them to absurd extremes. I particularly liked “The Monsters” (an alien species that periodically slaughters its females are horrified by human visitors who do not) and “The Native Problem” (the sole human colonist of a distant planet is mistaken for a primitive indigene by stubbornly prejudiced colonists who arrive some time later). Apparently Douglas Adams was a fan of Sheckley and cited him as a big influence; from this collection it’s easy to see why.[/li][li]Back when I was a kid I read The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories, which is basically a collection of (almost) every original short story that later got adapted into a Twilight Zone episode. “Little Girl Lost” (the one about the little girl who accidentally falls into the fourth dimension) and “It’s a Good Life” (about a town living in terror of an omnipotent and capricious little boy) have haunted me to this day.[/li][/ul]
So I guess I am asking whether there are any further sci-fi or speculative fiction anthologies in a similar style. I guess my only other restriction is that the collection must be available as a printed and bound book.
There are several other Sheckley story collections available, as well. You can probably find them used, on line, or you might get NESFA’s collection. The Masque of Manana, which contains several paperback’s worth of Sheckley Short Fiction:
If you like short stories with punch (and generally a twist ending), you should know that this was pretty much a staple of 1950s SF. Try the works of Fredric Brown (who was a master of the form), Theodore Cogswell, William Tenn, Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, and others. Again, these are out of print, but available at used book stores, through online used books, and probably as e-books. NESFA, typically, has collections available:
[i[From These Ashes* – the complete short SF of Fredric Brown
(Brown also wrote great short mysteries. 30 years ago a small press released these in hardcover and paperback, but they’re out of print now. Haffner Press is in the process of collecting them in a few hardcover editions, but they’re a bit pricey)
Of course, I’d always recommend The Science Fiction Hall of Fame (especially the first volume, since you’re into short stories), although, like the ones I recommend above, the stories are pretty old now. Classics, though. I don’t think Fredric Brown’s Arena is dated at all, for instance.
for more up-to-date stories, check out [The Year’s Best Science Fiction collections
Thanks to you and RealityChuck for the recommendations so far. Reading old stories doesn’t bother me, as long as they’re good. My favourite stories from the Sheckley collection described in my OP are mostly from the 1950s anyway.
Since Gardner Dozois (of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Xth Annual Collection) is now dead, to keep up with the most important science fiction short stories each year you should read Neil Clarke’s anthologies (The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume X).
The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases is so weird and delightful. They commissioned a bunch of authors to create new diseases and write medical guides about them. The one I remember best is by China Mieville and describes a mindworm that consists entirely of a specific arrangement of neurons that form in response to hearing a specific vocalization. The mindworm replicates by compelling its infested victim create the vocalization.
There’s never been yearly anthologies of the Hugo winners. You’re thinking of Nebula winner anthologies, which are still going on. They’re now called Nebula Award Showcases. The stories will be very, very different from 50s sf, though.
I used More Human than Human: Stories of Androids, Robots, and Manufactured Humanity, by Neil Clarke, and Robots: The Recent A.I., by Rich Horton, to mine recent stories for my robot book. Several award nominees in there. Rich also has been doing best of the year anthologies, and both Neil and Rich have released a long line of other more specialized anthologies and you could spend the next several years going through their oeuvre.