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100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories

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Enter the limitless realms of pure imagination. Here you’ll discover the dangers of walking the boulevards dreamed up by Harlan Ellison … the dark side of wishes granted by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Djinn Number Seven … the wry twists of Rick Norwood’s wordplay … the sinister shadows lurking behind H. P. Lovecraft’s wonders … and the blood-curdling terror of feeding time at Enter the limitless realms of pure imagination. Here you’ll discover the dangers of walking the boulevards dreamed up by Harlan Ellison … the dark side of wishes granted by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Djinn Number Seven … the wry twists of Rick Norwood’s wordplay … the sinister shadows lurking behind H. P. Lovecraft’s wonders … and the blood-curdling terror of feeding time at James Gunn’s zoo. This superb collection of the best short short works by outstanding contemporary writers packs an infinite amount of entertainment into these 100 small masterpieces of fantasy fiction… and takes you beyond the limits of time and space to savor the suspense, the shivers, the supernatural fun of every eerie, unforgettable one. Contents: Introduction: The widest field / Isaac Asimov — The Abraham Lincoln murder case / Rick Norwood — A dozen of everything / Marion Zimmer Bradley — The anatomy lesson / Scott Sanders — And I alone am escaped to tell thee / Roger Zelazny — Angelica / Jane Yolen — Apocryphal fragment / Edward Wellen — A prophecy of monsters / Clark Ashton Smith — At the bureau / Steve Rasnic Tem — Aunt Agatha / Doris Pitkin Buck — The Boulevard of Broken Dreams / Harlan Ellison — But not the herald / Roger Zelazny — Chained / Barry N. Malzberg — Chalk talk / Edward Wellen — Climacteric / Avram Davidson — The contest / Robert J. Sawyer — Controlled experiment / Rick Conley — The curse of Hooligan’s Bar / Charles E. Fritch — The Dark Ones / Richard Christian Matheson — Dead call / William F. Nolan — Deadline / Mel Gilden — Deal with the D.E.V.I.L. / Theodore R. Cogswell — The devil finds work / Mack Reynolds — Devlin’s dream / George Clayton Johnson — Displaced person / Eric Frank Russell — Echoes / Lawrence C. Connolly — Ex oblivione / H. P. Lovecraft — Farewell party / Richard Wilson — Feeding time / James Gunn — Final version / John Morressy — Five minutes early / Robert Sheckley — Freedom / Rick Norwood — Garage sale / Janet Fox — Getting back to before it began / Raylyn Moore — The giveaway / Steve Rasnic Tem — Give her hell / Donald A. Wollheim — God’s nose / Damon Knight — The good husband / Evelyn E. Smith — The handler / Damon Knight — The haters / Donald A. Wollheim — The house / Andre Maurois — How Georges Duchamps discovered a plot to take over the world / Alexei Panshin — The human angle / William Tenn — The importance of being important / Calvin W. Demmon — Interview with a gentleman farmer / Bruce Boston — Judgment Day / Jack C. Haldeman II — Just one more / Edward D. Hoch — The lady and the merman / Jane Yolen — The last unicorns / Edward D. Hoch — The last wizard / Avram Davidson — Letters from camp / Al Sarrantonio — L is for loup-garou / Harlan Ellison — Love filter / Gregg Chamberlain — The maiden’s sacrifice / Edward D. Hoch — Malice aforethought / Donald A Wollheim — The man who sold rope to the gnoles / Margaret St. Clair — Miranda-Escobedo / James Sallies — Mr. Wilde’s second chance / Joanna Russ — Mortimer Snodgrass Turtle / Jack C. Haldeman Ii — Mouse-kitty / Rick Norwood — Naturally / Fredric Brown — Night visions / Jack Dann — Once upon a unicorn / F. M. Busby — $1.98 / Arthur Porges — Opening a vein / Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg — The Other / Katherine Maclean — The other one / Rick Norwood — The Other Train Phenomenon / Richard Bowker — The painters are coming today / Steve Rasnic Tem — Paranoid fantasy #1 / Lawrence Watt-Evans — Perchance to dream / Katherine Maclean — Personality problem / Joe R. Lansdale — Pharaoh’s revenge / C. Bruce Hunter — Pick-up for Olympus / Edgar Pangborn — The poor / Steve Rasnic Tem — Prayer war / Jonathan V. Post — The prophecy / Bill Pronzini — The rag thing / Donald A. Wollheim — The recording / Gene Wolfe — Red carpet treatment / Robert Lipsyte — The sacrifice / Gardner Dozois — Santa’s tenth reindeer / Gordon Van Gelder — The second short-shortest fantasy ever published / Barry N. Malzberg — Sleep / Steve Rasnic Tem — Some days are like that / Bruce J. Balfour — Temporarily at liberty / Lawrence Goldman — The thing that stared / Richard Wilson — Thinking the unthinkable / Will Creveling — The third wish / Rick Norwood — Those three wishes / Judith Gorog — Thus I refute / Terry Carr — The toe / Phyllis Ann Karr — Tommy’s Christmas / John R. Little — The tower bird / Jane Yolen — Vernon’s dragon / John Gregory Betancourt — Voodoo / Fredric Brown — Weather prediction / Evelyn E. Smith — Who rides with Santa Anna? / Edward D. Hoch — Wisher takes all / William F. Temple — The world where wishes worked / Stephen Goldin — Your soul comes C.O.D. / Mack Reynolds


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Enter the limitless realms of pure imagination. Here you’ll discover the dangers of walking the boulevards dreamed up by Harlan Ellison … the dark side of wishes granted by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Djinn Number Seven … the wry twists of Rick Norwood’s wordplay … the sinister shadows lurking behind H. P. Lovecraft’s wonders … and the blood-curdling terror of feeding time at Enter the limitless realms of pure imagination. Here you’ll discover the dangers of walking the boulevards dreamed up by Harlan Ellison … the dark side of wishes granted by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Djinn Number Seven … the wry twists of Rick Norwood’s wordplay … the sinister shadows lurking behind H. P. Lovecraft’s wonders … and the blood-curdling terror of feeding time at James Gunn’s zoo. This superb collection of the best short short works by outstanding contemporary writers packs an infinite amount of entertainment into these 100 small masterpieces of fantasy fiction… and takes you beyond the limits of time and space to savor the suspense, the shivers, the supernatural fun of every eerie, unforgettable one. Contents: Introduction: The widest field / Isaac Asimov — The Abraham Lincoln murder case / Rick Norwood — A dozen of everything / Marion Zimmer Bradley — The anatomy lesson / Scott Sanders — And I alone am escaped to tell thee / Roger Zelazny — Angelica / Jane Yolen — Apocryphal fragment / Edward Wellen — A prophecy of monsters / Clark Ashton Smith — At the bureau / Steve Rasnic Tem — Aunt Agatha / Doris Pitkin Buck — The Boulevard of Broken Dreams / Harlan Ellison — But not the herald / Roger Zelazny — Chained / Barry N. Malzberg — Chalk talk / Edward Wellen — Climacteric / Avram Davidson — The contest / Robert J. Sawyer — Controlled experiment / Rick Conley — The curse of Hooligan’s Bar / Charles E. Fritch — The Dark Ones / Richard Christian Matheson — Dead call / William F. Nolan — Deadline / Mel Gilden — Deal with the D.E.V.I.L. / Theodore R. Cogswell — The devil finds work / Mack Reynolds — Devlin’s dream / George Clayton Johnson — Displaced person / Eric Frank Russell — Echoes / Lawrence C. Connolly — Ex oblivione / H. P. Lovecraft — Farewell party / Richard Wilson — Feeding time / James Gunn — Final version / John Morressy — Five minutes early / Robert Sheckley — Freedom / Rick Norwood — Garage sale / Janet Fox — Getting back to before it began / Raylyn Moore — The giveaway / Steve Rasnic Tem — Give her hell / Donald A. Wollheim — God’s nose / Damon Knight — The good husband / Evelyn E. Smith — The handler / Damon Knight — The haters / Donald A. Wollheim — The house / Andre Maurois — How Georges Duchamps discovered a plot to take over the world / Alexei Panshin — The human angle / William Tenn — The importance of being important / Calvin W. Demmon — Interview with a gentleman farmer / Bruce Boston — Judgment Day / Jack C. Haldeman II — Just one more / Edward D. Hoch — The lady and the merman / Jane Yolen — The last unicorns / Edward D. Hoch — The last wizard / Avram Davidson — Letters from camp / Al Sarrantonio — L is for loup-garou / Harlan Ellison — Love filter / Gregg Chamberlain — The maiden’s sacrifice / Edward D. Hoch — Malice aforethought / Donald A Wollheim — The man who sold rope to the gnoles / Margaret St. Clair — Miranda-Escobedo / James Sallies — Mr. Wilde’s second chance / Joanna Russ — Mortimer Snodgrass Turtle / Jack C. Haldeman Ii — Mouse-kitty / Rick Norwood — Naturally / Fredric Brown — Night visions / Jack Dann — Once upon a unicorn / F. M. Busby — $1.98 / Arthur Porges — Opening a vein / Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg — The Other / Katherine Maclean — The other one / Rick Norwood — The Other Train Phenomenon / Richard Bowker — The painters are coming today / Steve Rasnic Tem — Paranoid fantasy #1 / Lawrence Watt-Evans — Perchance to dream / Katherine Maclean — Personality problem / Joe R. Lansdale — Pharaoh’s revenge / C. Bruce Hunter — Pick-up for Olympus / Edgar Pangborn — The poor / Steve Rasnic Tem — Prayer war / Jonathan V. Post — The prophecy / Bill Pronzini — The rag thing / Donald A. Wollheim — The recording / Gene Wolfe — Red carpet treatment / Robert Lipsyte — The sacrifice / Gardner Dozois — Santa’s tenth reindeer / Gordon Van Gelder — The second short-shortest fantasy ever published / Barry N. Malzberg — Sleep / Steve Rasnic Tem — Some days are like that / Bruce J. Balfour — Temporarily at liberty / Lawrence Goldman — The thing that stared / Richard Wilson — Thinking the unthinkable / Will Creveling — The third wish / Rick Norwood — Those three wishes / Judith Gorog — Thus I refute / Terry Carr — The toe / Phyllis Ann Karr — Tommy’s Christmas / John R. Little — The tower bird / Jane Yolen — Vernon’s dragon / John Gregory Betancourt — Voodoo / Fredric Brown — Weather prediction / Evelyn E. Smith — Who rides with Santa Anna? / Edward D. Hoch — Wisher takes all / William F. Temple — The world where wishes worked / Stephen Goldin — Your soul comes C.O.D. / Mack Reynolds

30 review for 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    some amazing short short stories

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    A few good bits, but these felt prompted. Too many unicorn twist stories, too many suicide death stories, Bible twist stories, and what if? vampire stories. Favorites: Echoes by Lawrence C. Connolly - devastating, actually. Too close to recent events. Ex Oblivione by H. P. Lovecraft - I still can't decide if this is beautiful or terrifying. Then I think well of course, Lovecraft. Final Version by John Morressy - a nice little twist on the garden of Eden. I know I complained that there were too many A few good bits, but these felt prompted. Too many unicorn twist stories, too many suicide death stories, Bible twist stories, and what if? vampire stories. Favorites: Echoes by Lawrence C. Connolly - devastating, actually. Too close to recent events. Ex Oblivione by H. P. Lovecraft - I still can't decide if this is beautiful or terrifying. Then I think well of course, Lovecraft. Final Version by John Morressy - a nice little twist on the garden of Eden. I know I complained that there were too many Bible twist stories, but if Asimov had only selected this one, it would have been a good choice. Judgment Day by Jack C. Haldeman II - not what you'd think, but stupid ending. The Last Unicorns by Edward D. Hoch - I laughed sarcastically at this one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I picked this up in a used bookstore and I wish I hadn't. As other Goodreads reviewers note, the editors added a short quip just before each story that in many cases SPOILS THE STORY. The stories in this book aren't great anyway, and introducing them with a spoiler makes the experience even more painful. Another thing I hated about this book was that it has no organization. Instead of dividing the stories into categories of some kind, they're in alphabetical order by title, which just feels lazy I picked this up in a used bookstore and I wish I hadn't. As other Goodreads reviewers note, the editors added a short quip just before each story that in many cases SPOILS THE STORY. The stories in this book aren't great anyway, and introducing them with a spoiler makes the experience even more painful. Another thing I hated about this book was that it has no organization. Instead of dividing the stories into categories of some kind, they're in alphabetical order by title, which just feels lazy. Some of my least favorite stories here are by Rick Norwood, who wrote several of them. I love a good pun, but stories that exist only so the reader groans at a pun-inspired last line just make me hate the world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Rumor has it that the original title was A Whole Lot of Stories About the Devil and Genies Where People Make Wishes and Immediately Get Their Comeuppance, but Asimov wanted to give the stories' endings away individually, as he had gained so much joy from doing in 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories . Here the problem is exacerbated, in that his unnecessary editorial quip lies directly above the beginning of the story and is that much harder to ignore. I'm not sure whether the quality Rumor has it that the original title was A Whole Lot of Stories About the Devil and Genies Where People Make Wishes and Immediately Get Their Comeuppance, but Asimov wanted to give the stories' endings away individually, as he had gained so much joy from doing in 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories . Here the problem is exacerbated, in that his unnecessary editorial quip lies directly above the beginning of the story and is that much harder to ignore. I'm not sure whether the quality of the stories was actually lowered as much as it seemed, or if I am merely suffering extreme short-short story fatigue from tackling these two collections consecutively, but there were few surprises here. This was only compounded by writers seeming to think that, "Oh and it turns out he was the DEVIL," makes an effective ending. So many Devil stories. Why.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lythande Tucker

    With all stories 2000 words or fewer - some as short as a single page - this book is extremely easy to read when you don't have much time, like on work breaks, but it's also compelling enough that you want to read it when you do have the time. Most of the stories are dated, especially socially, which some might find offputting. It's to be expected when the collection was published in 1985 and some of the stories date back to the 40s and 50s. Themes of the stories cover most genres that can fall u With all stories 2000 words or fewer - some as short as a single page - this book is extremely easy to read when you don't have much time, like on work breaks, but it's also compelling enough that you want to read it when you do have the time. Most of the stories are dated, especially socially, which some might find offputting. It's to be expected when the collection was published in 1985 and some of the stories date back to the 40s and 50s. Themes of the stories cover most genres that can fall under the broadest "fantasy" umbrella, from supernatural horror to postapocalyptic scifi to alternate history to biblical tales to elaborate puns to fairy tales to stories you can read as perfectly mundane if you aren't willing to take a fantastic view of them. There is a marked preponderance of wish-granting genie and deal-with-the-devil parables. I suppose with their easy setup and short, sharp, to-the-point twists they lend themselves to the short-short format. Some of the stories are ultimately forgettable, but none are objectively bad, at least to my eyes. And far outweighing the forgettable ones are the ones that I still think about after putting the book down. "The Lady and the Merman" by Jane Yolen is especially haunting. "Final Version" is an extremely satisfying religious story I keep wanting to share with people (and I am not religious). "Opening a Vein" has a setup I want to take and pretend was my own. Overall, if you have five spare minutes at any point during your day, you can read a story here, and most of them are worth it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Octavia Cade

    This is the second of the short-short books I've read recently, in my ongoing effort to read more flash. It is not nearly as good as the mysteries volume. Perhaps it's just that many of these stories are decades old, but they often read as cliched and fairly unsophisticated. Perhaps they were new and exciting at the time, but they're not now. There is a truly execrable group of stories, for instance, based entirely around puns, all of which need to be taken out back and shot. A ridiculously huge This is the second of the short-short books I've read recently, in my ongoing effort to read more flash. It is not nearly as good as the mysteries volume. Perhaps it's just that many of these stories are decades old, but they often read as cliched and fairly unsophisticated. Perhaps they were new and exciting at the time, but they're not now. There is a truly execrable group of stories, for instance, based entirely around puns, all of which need to be taken out back and shot. A ridiculously huge amount of the remainder are based around either a deal with the devil or a wish-granting genie. (In fairness, the blame for all this repetition can be laid squarely at the feet of the editor and not any of the contributing authors.) There are only really two stories that stood out for me here. The beautifully written, if otherwise slight, Jane Yolen story "The Lady and the Merman", and "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Harlan Ellison, which had an excellently punchy ending. Apart from these, there's really nothing extraordinary here. Which is a real shame...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elmwoodblues

    Nothing is longer than about four pages, and nothing here needs to be. For good or bad, many of these shorts seem like a quick magic trick: 'Well, that was pretty cool! Next!' Then again, you get Harlan Ellison, Lovecraft, Fredric Brown, and ninety-seven more authors to enjoy! A stand-out for me was 'The Importance of Being Important' by Calvin W. Demmon, but there are so many storied that go by so quick, I may find a new favorite next year. NOTE: As mentioned by others, skip the idiotic 'fortun Nothing is longer than about four pages, and nothing here needs to be. For good or bad, many of these shorts seem like a quick magic trick: 'Well, that was pretty cool! Next!' Then again, you get Harlan Ellison, Lovecraft, Fredric Brown, and ninety-seven more authors to enjoy! A stand-out for me was 'The Importance of Being Important' by Calvin W. Demmon, but there are so many storied that go by so quick, I may find a new favorite next year. NOTE: As mentioned by others, skip the idiotic 'fortune cookie' summations at the start of each story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    R. Munro

    I first encountered this book in my mid-teens, and while some stories didn’t connect, a great many did. I hadn’t been terribly interested in short stories, preferring longform novels and the like, but this book gave me the perspective I needed to recognise the value and skill to be found in the writing of short stories. I truly enjoyed this book, and treasure my copy to this day.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lostaccount

    Only a few good stories in the whole of this short short (flash fiction in other words) collection. Some "big" names in the genre included but pretty poor showing all round. Not really a fan of Asimov (blasphemy I hear you cry!) and after this definitely not a fan of him as an editor. :)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Deepa Nirmal

    I think this book has aged well. Fantastic short (really short!) stories.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eduardo Chang

    Great selection. Would have been better without the small "quips" that spoil some of the stories.

  12. 4 out of 5

    coslyons

    My favorite stories were the Rick Norwood ones, but those were the ones that the person I borrowed this book from recommended anyway

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    My boyfriend recommended this book to me, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I kept it on my desk at work, and would read a story or two on my break. There were some really excellent stories in this book, written by well-known and well-loved fantasy writers. I definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a quick read while they wait for the bus, or to take their mind away from the daily grind for a little while.

  14. 5 out of 5

    MH

    A collection of very brief stories, usually 3 or 4 pages long, mostly from anthology magazines from the 1950s to 1970s and mostly involving unsurprising twist endings (an awful lot of poorly-worded wishes from genies or deals with the devil). There aren't a lot of gems, but the stories have an admirable workmanlike quality, and they're short enough that they fly by quickly.

  15. 4 out of 5

    SmokingMirror

    It's predictable that most if not all of the stories this abbreviated will have twist endings. Unfortunately, (view spoiler)[too many stories end: "and that little boy was Adolf Hitler" or "and the viewpoint character got what he deserved, because it turns out he was an evil Nazi." Or deal with the devil variations. (hide spoiler)] My favorite story: "Mr. Wilde's Last Chance" by Joanna Russ. It's predictable that most if not all of the stories this abbreviated will have twist endings. Unfortunately, (view spoiler)[too many stories end: "and that little boy was Adolf Hitler" or "and the viewpoint character got what he deserved, because it turns out he was an evil Nazi." Or deal with the devil variations. (hide spoiler)] My favorite story: "Mr. Wilde's Last Chance" by Joanna Russ.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janith Pathirage

    I'm reviewing the story 'Who rides with Santa Anna' by Eugene Montfort. It looked like a pretty good Gothic horror tale but there was nothing happening in the story. Santa Anna is riding with a wired old man to battle , and that's it... Who is this old guy ?. Is he a ghost or is he human ?. Seems like Eugene Montfor forget to finish this story (if you can call it a story)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Law

    Really cool to carry while you're in public transportation. Or in the waiting line. Or drinking some tea. The stories are short, some I didn't care about, some others I loved, like "Final Version" by John Morressy; "Give Her Hell" by Donald A. Wollheim; "The Third Wish" [originally published under the title "Omnia Triste"]" by Rick Norwood.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Macqueen

    Great. Just takes 5 minutes to read one story in a day. Loved the twist in the tale of Angelica by Jane Yolen. Also loved the atmosphere and comedy of The Curse of Hooligans Bar by Charles E. Fritch.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian Hoffmeyer

    This is a good book to put next to your bathroom reader. Most stories you can read in a minute or two. I

  20. 4 out of 5

    R

    100 stories. Some gems, some disappointing. A good read that's likely to make you step back and think at least a few times.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Silva

    Foi uma leitura ligeira e divertida por vezes, mas confesso que estava à espera que muitas das histórias fossem bem mais interessantes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Foad Farsiany

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  24. 5 out of 5

    Avi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Slipfinger

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tev

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aminath

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill Lockhart

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kumari

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