Science Fiction Short Story Examples – January 1940) salute to science fiction fans, or at least that’s how I read it. John W. Campbell, Jr. he thought it sounded great, but decided to run it to see what his students thought. It seems they didn’t like it either. “Requiem” followed the latter at Analytical Lab in March. “Requiem” even lost to Isaac Asimov’s “Robbie” in the 1941 Retro Hugo Awards in 2016, another epic tale.
In any case, my evidence is unreliable because the Analysis Lab relies on articles from letters to the editor, who tend to comment generally on the series, and Retro Hugo voters rarely read all of the winners. They vote for their favorite authors. But this is the evidence I have, and it is the evidence Heinlein used to measure his success at the time.
- 1 Science Fiction Short Story Examples
- 2 Sci Fi Writing Prompts (+ Generator)
- 3 The Greatest Classic Science Fiction Short Stories Of All Time
- 4 The 11 Best Sci Fi Novels From The 21st Century You Likely Missed
Science Fiction Short Story Examples
I love Requiem. It’s a solid, well-constructed story with well-defined characters and a satisfying, emotional ending. The story is very simple. D. D. Harriman is a rich old man who sells space travel. He teams up with a group of space jocks, pilot McIntyre and mechanic Charlie to take him to the moon. Harriman has a weak heart and is not legally allowed to travel in space. Harriman promises to finance the entire deal, and they will keep the rocket ship that will take them back into space. Law was correct, Harriman was unable to skywalk and died shortly after they landed on Luna. But he dies happy and satisfied.
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I thought Harriman was a Heinlein fan. Going to the moon was Heinlein’s lifelong dream, even in 1940. Heinlein used Harriman again in 1950 in The Man Who Sold the Bear. I believe Heinlein played Harriman in his Walter Mitty ideas at least until he created Jubal Harshaw. This excerpt from the story expresses Heinlein’s personal feelings about the future:
William Patterson writes of two incidents that show that Heinlein Jr
After the American Interplanetary Society changed its name to the American Rocket Society in 1934. We must remember that rocket development in the 1930s was very small, and Robert H. Goddard’s rockets did not reach the sky, below the Earth. Heinlein almost got into the business from the start.
And the story, Requiem, attacks the Nanny State, one of Heinlein’s most hated enemies. Fortunately for us, Heinlein didn’t teach about it, he demonstrated it. That’s why writing teachers don’t always talk about this show. This is the second reason I loved this story, because I loved the emotions for the first reason. I love Heinlein so much when he creates the perfect short story, and Requiem is without a doubt.
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Heinlein was complex. Throughout his life and career, he rebelled against excessive government control, yet adored the highly regulated military lifestyle. Heinlein’s characters like to follow the rules and find ways to break them. The illegal moon rocket scene in “Requiem” was reused
But there is a third note to “Requiem” that I discovered when reading about Heinlein. Heinlein tried his hand at politics in the mid-1930s. One thing I’m sure you’ve learned is how to vote for voters. I believe that “Requiem” was a statement of Heinlein’s beliefs and a bit of a slur on science fiction fans. Heinlein was campaigning to be the leader of science fiction. For this, he had to impress his fans with his stories and himself. This is my first testimony:
Shortly before Heinlein wrote Life-Line, he reached out to science fiction fans in Los Angeles. It could have inspired him to write for scientific magazines, or he was on a scouting mission to meet Heinlein’s followers. This is from the “Far West Facts” column in Ad Astra #4, a Chicago fanzine published in November 1939 by Farwest Jack Erman.
I believe Heinlein was older than most LASFS fans, and he and Leslin made an impact by writing fake news stories and printing them in the local paper. They also impressed young fans by being welcoming and friendly hosts. These two examples were before the release of Misfit and a few months before Requiem hit the stands.
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Heinlein had an immediate success with “Life-Line,” but Campbell returned the original version of “Misfit.” Campbell was jumping on other stories that Heinlein was producing, and then Heinlein was looking at other markets to sell them, including Fred Pohl’s amazing stories. I think he was happy with “Life-Line,” but then he got a series of rejections that shook his confidence, and Heinlein began to study the market and the fans. I think Heinlein wrote the Requiem to endear himself to the audience. To show them that he was one of them and that he believed in their cause.
The first fans were true believers in the ability to travel in space. It is almost impossible for people today to understand how the average American feels about science. It was a “crazy Buck Rogers thing.” If you’ve seen Buck Rogers, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And rocket research in the United States was just beginning. Until the end of World War II, when the world was shocked by atomic bombs and V-2 rockets, science fiction had no human power. Science fiction fans feel like they can see the future.
“Requiem” was Heinlein’s way of telling science fans that they were special. When Heinlein wrote a letter thanking Campbell for buying “If It Lives…”, he introduced “Requiem” and said: “It’s a short extra [‘Requiem’]. I hope you like it. It’s kind of my pet.”
Campbell bought it once in August 1939, but said he didn’t like it, but would use it as a test to see if the students liked it. But as it turns out, it didn’t go as he expected. First, Campbell ruined the story by adding four lines that Heinlein thought completely ruined the tone of the ending. They were:
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That was the case in the March issue. “If This Continues—” began the series in February, and that’s when Heinlein first got real notice in the letter column. But then again, it was a series, and they used to get the most attention. It was his first cover again.
“Requiem” is one of my favorite Heinlein short stories, probably second only to “Danger from Earth” as my favorite. But since I haven’t read many of them in years, that order may change, and as I reread all of Heinlein’s short stories for this project, I may find some forgotten gems. I think Farah Mendlesohn was also very impressed with Requiem because she spent several pages in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Pleasant Profession discussing the story in the Rhetoric chapter. I can reprint it, unless its length would cause copyright infringement, but I can copy the first two pages. Campbell wanted to reject Requiem because it was too sentimental, but Mendesohn recognized Heinlein’s sensibility as a novelist as one of his best qualities:
As I re-read Heinlein, I try hard to forget the old Heinlein dominating my memories. We must remember young Heinlein. In fact, you have to imagine Heinlein as he was when he wrote each story. Most readers expect the story to stand alone and function as an independent work of art. It’s good for extra fun. But I see Heinlein wanting to influence or shape the future, and he used science fiction as his tool. If you’ve never read a classic short story, you’ve never experienced science fiction. Here are 9 of the best science fiction stories from our special guest, a science fiction expert who happens to be one of my favorite people.
I have a real gift for you today. Instead of hearing from me, today I have a special guest post… from my dad!
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. Even today, at some point, he always brings back the black and white sci-fi films to show his grandchildren. Think giant tarantulas.
Although you may think of aliens and spaceships in the memory of science fiction short stories, science fiction is much more than that.
Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Science fiction is a possibility – but usually you don’t want it. A dream is something that doesn’t happen – even though you always wish it could.”
If you really want to enjoy science fiction, try these short science fiction stories. They don’t take long to read, but oh, how well they tell a story in such a short space of time. You can’t say you don’t like science fiction until you’ve tried some of these science fiction short stories.
Page:drug Themes In Science Fiction (research Issues 9).djvu/30
Science fiction is a genre in itself. It combines humor, wonder, inspiration, hope and joy; it opens our eyes to new horizons
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