Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Great Short Stories Part 9: #81-90

81. "Skeleton" (1943) by Ray Bradbury. Perhaps the most horrible of Bradbury's stories yet told in such a delightful manner; a man fears and hates his skeleton and wages a losing war against it. A bone specialist has an unconventional solution to his dilemma...

"Skeleton" can be found in The Stories of Ray Bradbury.

82. "The Storm" (1944) by McKnight Malmar. While a storm rages outside, a woman comes upon a body in her basement. She waits for her husband's return so that he can help her, but is she just imagining the body?

"The Storm" can be read online here.

83. "The Small Assassin" (1946) by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury's most chilling story, some consider it ridiculous but it has such a perfectly-honed tension that spills out in the final line - I love it. A woman fears that her newborn child is out to kill her. Before long, her husband has reason to agree.

"The Small Assassin" can be found in The Stories of Ray Bradbury.

84. "The Emissary" (1947) by Ray Bradbury. This is like a horror version of Bradbury's Dandelion Wine where his beloved small town atmosphere is invaded by something unearthly. A boy confined to his bed relies upon his dog to keep him in touch with the outside world. From the scents on his dog's coat he imagines the world outside his room and the dog also brings people to visit him. The dog is willing to go to any length to keep its master company...

"The Emissary" can be found in The Stories of Ray Bradbury.

85. "Zero Hour" (1947) by Ray Bradbury. Horror meets science fiction in this one, where children begin playing a game of invasion; the problem is, it's not just a game.

"Zero Hour" can be found in The Illustrated Man.

86. "Don't Look Behind You" (1948) by Fredric Brown. I recall my mother telling me about this story years before I chanced upon it in an anthology. It left a vivid impression on her and I can understand why; two men make a bet about killing a stranger. The victim's identity will startle you.

"Don't Look Behind You" can be found in Daymare and Other Tales From the Pulps.

87. "The Lottery" (1948) by Shirley Jackson. This is the well known story of a small town and its unusual tradition, the lottery which helps maintain balance with the environment.

"The Lottery" can be found in The Lottery. You can read the text online here.

88. "The Girl With the Hungry Eyes" (1949) by Fritz Leiber. A photographer receives an unusual client, a beautiful woman who imposes strict terms upon him regarding her secrecy. He becomes consumed with curiosity about her and begins to learn all he can; this leads him to a trail of bodies...

"The Girl With the Hungry Eyes" can be found in The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories.

89. "Poison" (1950) by Roald Dahl. This story was almost ruined for me by having seen the Alfred Hitchcock Presents adaptation first - it misses the point of Dahl's narrative. A man is trapped in bed by a snake which crawled under his covers. To save his life, he must agree to let the local Indian doctor treat him, despite his prejudices.

"Poison" can be found in Collected Stories. You can read the text online here.

90. "The Veldt" (1950) by Ray Bradbury. For all the romanticism Bradbury brings to childhood, it's important to remember that he doesn't think children are perfect. This is one of his great "children are evil" stories, where two kids engineer the murder of their parents. Their motivation? Simply too spoiled.

"The Veldt" can be found in The Stories of Ray Bradbury.


Kent Gunnarsson said...

"The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" was written by Fritz Leiber.

Michael Hoskin said...

You're right; I was thinking of Brown's Our Lady of Darkness, but I'm not sure why; fixed.

Kent Gunnarsson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kent Gunnarsson said...

_Our Lady of Darkness_ is a novel by Fritz Leiber.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog very much!

Michael Hoskin said...

Wow, I'm really out to lunch on Leiber; thanks for the corrections!