Revealing Your Personality With Science Fiction

Rusty Keele over at has invited blogging friends over to write about their favorite SF short story, and I’m one of the contributors.  My post is queued up for tomorrow.  I picked “The Star Pit” by Samuel R. Delany from 1967.  Be sure and stop by and read all the posts this week.  Jason Sanford discusses his love of Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” from 1950 and John DeNardo picks “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin from 1954, after sneaking in a plea for “Diamond Dogs” by Alastair Reynolds from 2003.

It’s revealing to see what other fans like in the way of short stories, especially when you only get to pick one.  If had mentioned two, I might have included “The Menace From Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein from 1957.

To help refresh your memory of great short stories, look at these lists:

Are you a long time fan of science fiction?  If you study these lists, even in a casual way, they will bring back a flood of memories.  There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of great science fiction stories.  Our pitiful little minds just can’t hold them all our bio-RAM.  I wouldn’t have picked a different story if I had read these lists before I wrote my essay for Rusty, but reading them now makes me realize how hard it would be to pick story #2.

It’s too bad reprint rights are so expensive because it would be huge fun to create my own personal anthology of favorites and publish it at  Imagine a fad of publishing personal anthologies of short stories, where you wrote forwards and afterwards for each story. Wouldn’t that make a unique way to communicate with new friends?  In the old days you’d introduce yourself to people and leave your calling card.  Imaging leaving your anthology.

Could you define your inner core personality with 12 short stories?  I think “The Star Pit” comes close to revealing a lot of my personal programming.  Picking the next 11 stories would be difficult, but I think I’ll start going through the above lists and make a try of it.  Certainly, it will make a nice blog entry.


5 thoughts on “Revealing Your Personality With Science Fiction”

  1. I really look forward to reading all the short story reviews/thoughts. Cold Equations is a fantastic short story. I just read it again, this time aloud to my wife, last week!

  2. James,

    As I was putting together the responses from each blogger / author, I noticed that most of them picked stories that were published in the 50’s and 60’s. I find this to be quite interesting. Is it because the stories written in those days were actually better? Is it because they were the first ones to explore certain topics? Or could it be because they were the first ones we read during our impressionable youth?

    The same holds true for most “best of” lists for science fiction stories – they are mostly from the mid 20th century, with only a handful of recent stories making the cut.

    For the most part I enjoy modern stories more than classic ones. I’m not sure why that is. As I think about my favorite story I now realize that (as you said) it is a reflection of my personality, interests, schooling and work experiences. Perhaps I was thinking of my own recent history and that influenced my choice. Is it possible that there is a link between when the story was written and our personalities? Interesting to think about.

  3. Jim,

    I have been reading the selections at BestScienceFictionStories and naturally I began thinking of my own favorite stories. Being a compulsive list-maker, I began making a top 12 immediately and, like you, will I probably turn it into a blog entry eventually. However, since my serious reading has been mostly post-1960, I will limit my list to the modern era.

    I am also a big Delany fan, although my favorite story of his alternates between “Lines of Power” and “The Star-Pit”, one of which will definitely end up on my top 12.

    Of the recommended lists of top fiction you recommend, I was most interested in James Gunn’s series THE ROAD TO SCIENCE FICTION. I own the 6th volume of international stories and, like a lot of other sf books, have lusted after the other 5 for many years.

  4. I read your review and commented over there but wanted to mention here as well what a great job you did. Very thorough and engaging…I definitely want to read that story.

    I find Rusty’s comment interesting above as I too really enjoy these older short stories…and quite frankly older sci fi novels as well, perhaps more so than more recent books I have read.

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t some great sci fi short and long form contemporary stories out there because there are. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results of one of my new year’s goals, which was to read more contemporary sci fi.

    But, even though I was born in 1968 and not in the years in which 50’s and 60’s sci fi was contemporary for me, I feel a great kinship with the sensibilities of that time period and enjoy the heck out of stories written then, or even earlier. I rarely see these stories as ‘silly’ or even ‘dated’ in the negative sense of the word. Any dated references actually add to the charm of the story for me as they give me a sense of history and nostalgia when I read them which is part of their appeal. I see that as a positive and not negative thing.

    Though of course I am completely blown away when I discover a ‘classic’ sci fi story that actually doesn’t feel dated…or whose dated references are so few that the book reads like a timeless story. Those are always a rare treat.

    So glad you were asked to participate in this project as it allowed me to discover another great science fiction site.

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