Writing about Karen Joy Fowler’s “The View From Venus” last week got me to thinking about other short stories that I love. And that gave me the idea of coming up with a table of contents for my dream short fiction anthology.
So I made one. My rules were simple: any short story that moved me so much that I still remember it. All of these have been in print, some multiple times. Some are famous; some I know about because I know the author. There’s no order here. I just listed stories as I thought of them.
I’m sure I’ve left something important out, even though I’ve spent the last week trying to think of all the possibilities. And, of course, I haven’t read all the great short stories around. So in the comments, please provide your own TOC for the perfect short fiction anthology. Or just list a few stories you think should be added to this one.
Karen Joy Fowler, “The View From Venus.” I told you about this one last week.
Joanna Russ, “When It Changed.” This is my favorite short story ever, except that the ending has always bothered me. It’s in the collection The Zanzibar Cat.
L. Timmel Duchamp, “The Fool’s Tale.” I remember wanting to look up all the footnotes in this story, to see if they were made up or real. This was originally published in Leviathan 3.
Connie Willis, “All My Darling Daughters.” Most people seem to think Willis’s “Even the Queen” is her great feminist moment, but I’ve never liked that story. This one, on the other hand, is powerful and frightening. I found it in Ellen Datlow’s anthology Alien Sex.
James Tiptree, Jr., “The Women Men Don’t See.” I will never understand how anyone could read that story and not know Tiptree was a woman. I cannot imagine that a male writer in the 1970s could have understood the invisibility of women. Of course, I’m also pretty sure that no one would have published it had they known who Tiptree was in the rest of her life.
Gregory Frost, “The Madonna of the Maquiladora.” People are always debating whether stories should be written in second person or not. This is an example of how powerful the perspective can be when it’s done right. It originally appeared in Asimov’s.
Pamela Zoline, “The Heat Death of the Universe.” I read this in Justine Larbalestier’s anthology of stories with essays, Daughters of Earth.
Robert Freeman Wexler, “Tales of the Golden Legend.” There’s an excerpt here. This story made me love surrealism.
Therese Pieczynski, “Eden.” This was published in Asimov’s in 2000. Aliens in a working class setting. Very powerful.
Samuel R. Delany, “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones.” I love the way the 60s underlies this story.
Theodore Sturgeon, “The Man Who Lost the Sea.” This was reprinted in Strange Horizons. All you people who keep wondering why people are signing up to go to Mars should read this.