Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Indelible Short Stories

There are handful of short stories that live inside you once you read them, they are undeniable, there forever. I may not remember the whole story, every character's name, every plot detail, but I remember that moment where it became indelible and what happened in the story to make it so.

There's a great post from Terrie Moran over at Criminal Element about the life and works of Shirley Jackson. Jackson is probably best know for her short story The Lottery where townspeople gather each year to stone one of their own to death. I read it in school many years ago, and it made such an impression it's still with me. You can read The Lottery here.

In fact, while watching the movie 'Hunger Games' The Lottery came back to me, as did my second selection for an indelible short story, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell.

In that story a big game hunter becomes the big game. You can see how easily Hunger Games ties the two themes together to create a completely different but compelling story that tugs on our psyche.

The third story is called Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven. You can find it in the short story compilations, DANGEROUS VISIONS edited by Harlan Ellison ( it is not available in the public domain as the other two stories are. Jigsaw Man paints a future where humans can live forever as long as they continue to have organ transplants.  Convicts organs are harvested to help meet the need, but demand grows larger than the prison population so society starts punishing smaller and smaller infractions with death and the harvesting of your organs. I won't tell you how it ends so you can go enjoy for yourself.

What are your indelible short stories?


  1. The Lottery and the Most Dangerous Game were definitely ones that stuck with me. I wonder if the fact that we read them as school aged children made them have more of an impact on us. Our little minds were so innocent that we couldn't have perceived that people would stone their friends and neighbors, or try to hunt a human being.

  2. @kerry - I think you may be right about us being young and impressionable. I didn't read Jigsaw Man until I was in college, but the concept of harvesting body parts for traffic violations was pretty wild.

  3. The narrator in Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Brown Hand" awakening in the night and mentioning that time has passed by noting the movement of the square of moonlight from the window is a scene that I have remembered whenever I've observed light from a window at night and how it has moved over a bit of time. I first read that story 40 years ago, and it has stuck with me all those years. (Even though I thought the story was by Kipling until I stumbled on it again about 10 years ago!)

  4. @Jeff - that's another great story. What a great memory. Thanks for posting.

    For those of you who want to read or re-read Conan Doyle's "The Brown Hand", you can find it online here: