Science Fiction Futures
SF2 Concatenation's selection of the very best
of the SF short stories from the journal Nature
This is the index page to a series of SF short stories (of between 750 and 850 words) written by top SF authors as well as science writers and even scientists. These stories first appeared in the journal Nature and are presented here as free access with permission of Nature and the respective authors. The selection of the Future stories is Concatenation's but sadly there are too many really good ones for us to reproduce here so you will just have to check out Naure (facing inside back cover) each week at your nearest college library.
A new story will be added each season (Spring - March; Summer - July; and Autumn - November; and also, sometimes, before Christmas).
This link is an introduction to this series. Links to the individual stories are listed below:-
- Asymmetrical Warfare: So you want to be a star? by S. R. Algernon Hugo short-listed 2016
If you really are set on invading the Earth, then be advised: it may not be quite as easy as you think!
- The Preprint: Time to Publish by J. W. Armstrong
Discovering the true nature of time -- fundamental to reality -- is something that might not want to be shared...
- Reversal of Misfortune: Alternative culture by J. W. Armstrong
Being able to see all your alternative quantum options may not be as welcome as you might think... Or is it?
- I Die A Little by Bo Balder
Sometimes it is impossible to stay on a new planet no matter how much our children like it.
- When The Music Ends: Criminal records by Philip Ball
Seeking perfection in music can only lead to catastrophe...
- The Cleverest Man in the World: Problem Solved by Tony Ballantyne
Falling with a broken parachute! What to do? Why, call the cleverest man in the world!
And as for the author, he becomes the first 'Futures' author to have had two (now three) stories selected by us! Why not check out his novels Blood and Iron, Capacity, Divergence and Recursion.
- If Only... A Taste of your own Medicine by Tony Ballantyne
So you don't want to have a vaccine? Fine, provided you have an evidence-based reason. Turn your back on science and science may turn its back on you...
- Takeaway by Tony Ballantyne
Working in a Chinese takeaway is a competitive business, especially in a multi-species community...
- Harnessing the Brane-Deer by Robert Billing
A Royal Air Force base sees a bit of a Christmas prang. What ho... (Ho, ho, ho...)
- Reality Check by David Brin
There are all sorts of realities in SF but what really is real?
- Legs-11 by Hugh Cartwright
Meet the home help. It's new and you get a free trial. So what's not to like?
- What's Expected Of Us by Ted Chiang
Sending signals through time is fun but there is a down side...
- Life, Hacked: Out For A Duck by Krystal Claxton
So how do you know you are real, and not a copy of the real you in a copy-verse? Ask a duck.
- Quis Custodiet by Brian Clegg
The world is ruled by a caring AI. It is a perfect dictatorship, isn't it?
- Last of the Guerrilla Gardeners by David Clements
When big business controls the intellectual property rights to biological species, will gardening become as much a political act as a hobby...? Now, Dave Clements is not just a scientist into SF (just the sort of person for whom Concatenation is primarily (but not solely) aimed), he has contributed a non-fiction, science article to us before (see 'The Hidden History of the Universe'). So it was a delight when -- during our annual sift at Christmas -- it just happened that his story got short-listed as our selection of one of the best published by Nature the previous year. Them's the breaks. Enjoy.
- Squealer: Mouthpiece for a generation by Nathan Correll
Following 'the Crash' much is lost. So no time for SFnal classics. It could be so Orwellian...
- Birthday Surprises by Erika Cule
A hard SF biology tale from a biochemist exploring nature and/or nurture.
- The Tiger Waiting on the Shore: Days of remembrance by Paul Currion
In the not-too-distant future we will be more humane when it comes to criminal punishment... Won't we?
- Sparrowfall: The city never sleeps - Robert Dawson
The AI keeps the city immaculate. But does everyone -- even the person that created it -- appreciate it?
- Zeroing out his wavefunction by Peter S. Drang
With quantum uncertainty affecting people, a potential victim and murderer vie for reality.
- A Brief History of Death Switches by David Eagleman
As the end of the World nears, and there are few humans left, will there be an afterlife? Sort of…
- A Perfect Drug by Dan Erlanson
Creating and bringing a new pharmaceutical to market is very expensive and fraught with difficulty. But the new drug Paxpharma was something else...
- Freemium: It’s no game by Louis Evans
They detected an alien signal and so called Derek. First contact literally comes at a price...
- Goliath by Bruce W. Ferguson
A giant asteroid is discovered heading for Earth, but is humanity up to averting an extinction event?
- A Beginner’s Guide to Space Travel and Seafood' – Are you ready for a new life? by Steven Fischer
So you want to live on another planet? Well, don't use the standard starships. You know what happens. This new company is your better bet...
- Infringement: Brought down to Earth by Timothy J. Gawne
Do you have the right to exist? Is your Earth's copyright valid...?
- Are We Not Men by Henry Gee
It turns out that the human family is quite large...
- Health tips for traveller by David W. Goldman
When travelling to other worlds it is best to ensure you have taken all the precautions necessary for a healthy visit.
- Speak, Geek by Eileen Gunn
So a dog's a man's best friend, but their may be a flipside to species uplift...
- Press '1' to begin by Nye Joell Hardy
The growth of internet communication, sites like Concatenation, social sites, chat rooms and so forth, has a downside: personal skills could suffer... Knock, knock...
- In Response to Your Reader: Local issues by Gareth D. Jones
Following the Event, the valley remained cut off from the rest of the world. But as the letter column in the local paper reveals, other things are happening.
- Investments by Simon Kewin
There's been a lot of investment in humanity. Now it's time for a bit of corporate rationalisation and tough choices for the chief executive of Blue Planet Holdings...
- Ringing Up Baby by Ellen Klages
Involving a child in the parental decision to have another is always best, isn't it?
- Subject to Change by Joseph Lachance
A hard SF physics tale from a biologist as to the Universe's nature.
- The Invisible Hand by Allan M. Lees
So how is science really conducted and can one person alter the direction of research in many countries?
- Press Play by Marissa Lingen
War was coming, but we could protect our children by putting them in stasis. But there is a cost...
- Succussion by Steven Longworth
Record-breaking global health has an unlikely cause and an equally odd solution. ('Solution!' geddit? Oh, read the story.)
- The Christmas Tree Barn by Mary E. Lowd
Christmas trees of the future may have more personality, and not just for Christmas...
- Mobile Hack: It pays to be well informed by Zack Lux
You really (really!) need to look after that which looks after you...
- The Memory of Trees by Lynette Mejía
One of the first things to go in a fated world may well be the last thing its people really needs... Art!
- Perchance To Dream by Robert A. Metzger
Out of sight, out of mind. Reality and illusion can catch up with you when old...
- Your guide to the ever-shrinking solitude on Planet Earth by Jo Miles
In an increasingly interconnected world, it is ever more difficult to have a moment of peace. But it is possible, just! Here's how...
- Ghosts in the Machine by Aaron Moskalik
Can you prove that you are alive? Really prove that you are alive? Administration may want to know...
- An Intersection of Parallel Lives: Blood ties by Wendy Nikel
A long departed generation ship represents a commercial opportunity...
- The Memory Ward by Wendy Nikel
Lisa is saving her memories before she loses them to dementia. And then, playing an old one back, she discovers...
- A New Note For Nat by Gareth Owens
Being a hypersonic rock star is great... until you get too old.
- Please [Redacted] My Last E-mail by Kurt Pankau
Any future e-mails you get from me are also really from me. Even if they completely contradict everything I’m saying right now…
- So, one of those tiny alien spaceships has flown into your house. Now what? by Laura Pearlman
The best strategy is not to let them in, but maybe you left your chimney flue open or didn’t notice a hole in a window screen, and now there’s a tiny alien spaceship flitting around your living room or kitchen... What to do?
- For Your Information by Connor Powers-Smith
In the future getting genetic data on a new prospective partner is all part of the dating process. But a little knowledge...
- Invisible: The path to immortality by Joao Ramalho-Santos
Having a scientific breakthrough, getting published and hence recognition, you might think was a path to immortality... Not any more... (This is one that may well resonate with our scientist regulars.)
- A Better Mousetrap by Mike Resnick
Pest control in a high-tech space station surely needs to be high tech itself... Doesn't it?
- The Game by Michael Adam Robson
Being chased by the robots is a bit of a pain considering they were not exactly rebelling...
- Grains of Wheat: A lesson learned by Alex Shvartsman
Best not to upset those (including your relatives) on your way up as you may need them on the way down...
- Dark They Were, And Strange Inside by Vaughan Stanger
Internet dating in the multiverse is not as great as it sounds...
- Homo Sapiens Declared Extinct by Bruce Sterling
The last human on Earth dies and so it is time to pause for a moment of reflection.
- The Fourth Law of Humanics by Ian Stewart
What of Asimov's Laws once the robots have won...?
- Grandfather Paradox by Ian Stewart
Sometimes you have to go back in time to kill your own grandfather just to stay alive... A great twist on a the classic science gedanken paradox.
- Maxo Signals by Charles Stross
There is a new and unfortunate solution to the Fermi paradox. The aliens are there, but better not return their call.
- NPG’S Policy on Authorship: Important change to submission criteria by Jordan Suchow
In the future the science journal Nature changes its policy in a way that will concern humans as they will no longer be able to submit work for publication.
- The Department of Correction by Ninan Tan
Offender, Mr Smith, turns up for a medical procedure. A lesson has to be learned.
- White lies by Grace Tang
You can't cut corners with ground-breaking research, but sometimes just little lies are required.
- IRC: A Helping Hand by Julian Tang
What if your computer was not only connected to the internet but something else entirely?
- The Resilience of Humanity by Gretchen Tessmer
With the boon of immortality, there came a problem. Population. Still, there's a way around that, isn't there?
- Venetian blinds by Gretchen Tessmer
Global warming has become critical and it is time to leave...!
- Universes all the way down by Matt Tighe
The aliens are more advanced and occasionally like to give a helping hand with things like, say, understanding the nature of the universe...
- First Foot by Deborah Walker
It's the season to be jolly, and there are traditions that we must adhere to through to new year lest we incur displeasure...
- Single Layer I. T.: A collective celebration by William R. D. Wood
It is the countdown to the end of the year and the dawn of a new one. Happy New Year everyone. 'Five', 'four', 'three'...
- The Tentacle and You – It's a whole new start by John Wiswell
You’re probably one of the first people in your entire civilisation to get this gift, and we know how overwhelming that can feel. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to coach you.
- The Front Line by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Holding the line against a relentless, unstoppable, alien invasion of the Solar system is not what you might expect. Time for a stiff gin...
Feel like writing a Futures story? See the author guidelines.
Still hungry for more science fiction stories?
The check out the 'forthcoming books' sections of our seasonal Science Fiction News page.
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