Dystopian Short Stories

Updated on October 4, 2018
Howard Allen profile image

Howard is an avid short story reader who likes to help others find and understand stories.

Stories of dystopias have become favorites for many readers. Thought provoking tales of surveillance, regimentation, oppression and rebellion have long fascinated and frightened us.

Here are some short story selections for fans of dystopian fiction with links where available.

1. "Red Card" | S. L. Gilbow

Linda Jackson shoots her husband. The general reaction of the public is favorable. She reports her “enforcement” to the authorities and prepares to follow proper procedure as the holder of a red card.

Read "Red Card"

2. "The Funeral" | Kate Wilhelm

After a very old woman dies, the young girls who attended to her in her final years are assigned to write down things that she said. Most of it is government approved, but one of the girls remembers her saying something about a cave where she could go and hide.

Read "The Funeral"

3. "Billennium" | J. G. Ballard

Overpopulation is society’s main problem. The government has mandated a maximum living space of 4 square meters per person. A man, Ward, finds a place slightly larger than the legal limit which he shares with a friend. They make a discovery that changes everything.

Read "Billennium"

4. "Amaryllis" | Carrie Vaughn

Marie is the captain of a fishing vessel. Their catches are limited to a government mandated quota, as is the population in general. Marie was an illegal birth; her mother hid the pregnancy, causing the breakup of the family.

Read "Amaryllis"

5. "Ten with a Flag" | Joseph Paul Haines

In the future when advanced testing is available for pregnant women, a mother finds out that her unborn child will be gifted—the government believes the child will benefit society. The father believes the child is dangerous.

Read "Ten with a Flag"

6. "Peter Skilling" | Alex Irvine

Peter died 98 years ago in a mountain climbing accident. He is revived with advanced medical technology. Peter is eager to begin his life again, but due to strict anti-terrorism laws he must first answer for the crimes of his past.

Read "Peter Skilling"

7. "The Pedestrian" | Ray Bradbury

Leonard Mead leaves his house at 8 PM for a walk. In ten years of taking evening walks he has never met up with another person; everyone stays inside to watch television. He is spotted by the police and approached.

Read "The Pedestrian"

8. "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" | Harlan Ellison

The Ticktockman is in charge of a highly regimented society where everything runs on schedule. He has the power to shorten, or end, people’s lives as punishment for being late. A rebellious figure, the Harlequin, disrupts the master schedule by causing interference for the citizens, bringing him to the attention of the Ticktockman.

Read "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman"

9. "Is This Your Day to Join the Revolution?" | Genevieve Valentine

Liz lives in a society where citizens are closely monitored and ordered to report each other for suspicious behavior. She has been matched with Greg to reproduce. Disease control workers hand out pills and masks, warning people of a dangerous contagion.

Read "Is this Your Day to Join the Revolution?"

10. "Minority Report" | Philip K. Dick

John Anderton is the head of the pre-crime division—a division that can determine in advance who is going to commit a crime. The names of the future criminals are generated on a card; one day, Anderton’s own name appears.

Read "Minority Report"

11. "Just Do It" | Heather Linsley

Alex Monroe interviews for a job at CraveTech, a company in chemical advertising— advertising that is shot into people which makes them crave a particular product. She has an ulterior motive for wanting the job.

Read "Just Do It"

12. "Civilization" | Vylar Kaftan

You are in charge of a civilization. You get to make important decisions that affect the whole population in a Choose Your Own Adventure style story.

Read "Civilization"

13. "Resistance" | Tobias S. Bucknell

Stanuel helps a mercenary gain access to a restricted building. They try to avoid detection by Pan, the leader, who has extensive monitoring systems in place. They’re headed for the tower with weapons and explosives.

Read "Resistance"

14. "Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment" | M. Rickert

Certain women are executed every night on television for a crime that isn’t immediately clear. The woman’s name is given and her face is shown, but there are many women who seem to vanish without ever appearing on the show.

15. "The Cull" | Robert Reed

The doctor on a Mars station hears that a young boy, Orlando, has caused trouble again, hitting his sister. Everyone on the station is happy except for Orlando. His parents are worried and in denial about his behavior. They fear Orlando will be culled.

Read "The Cull"

16. "The Perfect Match" | Ken Liu

Sai lives in a society where companies monitor people’s preferences and a voice on their phones, Tilly, tells them about things they like, even coaching them on dates. Sai’s neighbor, Jenny, rejects the invasion of privacy and complains about the recording devices outside Sai’s door. She claims that Tilly tells people what to like and what to do, which gets Sai thinking.

Read "The Perfect Match"

17. "Harrison Bergeron" | Kurt Vonnegut

All Americans are equal—no one is allowed to be better than anyone else in any way. An exceptional fourteen-year-old, Harrison, is taken away from his parents by the government.

Read "Harrison Bergeron"

18. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" | Ursula Le Guin

The citizens of Omelas are happy and celebrating the summer festival. They have an arrangement that guarantees their happiness.

Read "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"

19. "The Lottery" | Shirley Jackson

The inhabitants of a village prepare for the lottery, an annual harvest time tradition. Everyone gathers to draw slips of paper from an old black box.

Read "The Lottery"

20. "Frost and Fire" | Ray Bradbury

Sim is born on a planet close to the sun where people live only eight days. There is a ship, intact, on a mountain, but it’s too far away to reach in time.

Read "Frost and Fire"

21. "We Ate the Children Last" | Yann Martel

Patient D, who has a terminal case of colon cancer, receives a digestive system transplant from a pig. He recovers quickly and his appetite becomes voracious and unusual.

Read "We Ate the Children Last"

22. "The New Utopia" | Jerome K. Jerome

The narrator dines with his friends at the National Socialist Club where they discuss their goal of equality for all. He goes home thinking about how delightful a completely fair society would be. After going to sleep, he wakes up a thousand years later in this ideal socialist state.

Read "The New Utopia"

23. "Sacre du Printemps" | Ludwig Bemelmans

Emil kratzig lives in a society that's heavily controlled by the government, which includes many class distinctions for the citizens.

24. "2 B R 0 2 B" | Kurt Vonnegut

All of society's ills have been cured: wars, famine, disease, and death from aging. The population is maintained at 40 million. When there is a birth, someone has to volunteer to die. Edward Wehling finds out that his wife is going to give birth to triplets.

Read "2 B R 0 2 B"

25. "Examination Day" | Henry Slesar

Dickie Jordan has just turned twelve, so it's time for him to take a Government mandated intelligence test. His parents don't say much about it. They seem to be worried about Dickie's performance.

Read "Examination Day"

26. "Created He Them" | Alice Eleanor Jones

Ann Crothers is up early to get the children out of the way and prepare her husband's breakfast. She's careful about everything she does because she knows her husband will complain. Food and other supplies are low.

Read "Created He Them"

27. "Speech Sounds" | Octavia E. Butler

Rye is on a bus heading for Pasadena. She might have a brother there who's still alive. Two passengers, young men, start getting hostile. When one inadvertently falls into the other, a fight breaks out. This leads to further hostilities. The driver stops the bus. There is lots of grunting and other sounds and many gestures, but no one talks.

Read "Speech Sounds"

Hope you enjoy some of these dystopian stories. If I come across more, i'll add them to this page.

Looking for Dystopian Novels?

Comments

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    • profile image

      Doug Vardell 

      11 days ago

      Hi, I am looking for a dystopian short story I read around 1976 about soldiers coming home from war asleep in deep comas. No one could wake them up. Someone said they needed a poet or musician or artist, but all those talents had been banned in the technological world of the time.

    • profile image

      faze jay 

      3 weeks ago

      love them all

    • Howard Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Howard Allen 

      5 weeks ago

      Beverly,

      The story you're looking for might be The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster. That's all I can think of right now. Hope that's the one.

    • profile image

      Beverly Kalinin 

      5 weeks ago

      For years I have been trying to recall the well-known author and his short story in which all the characters lived underground (or within a house, hovel, or whatever) and never came out to see each other in person. This author saw the writing on the wall for future human communication. I have so often wished I could return to this "lost" story. Do you know this author and story?

    • Howard Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Howard Allen 

      5 months ago

      Sounds like "By the Waters of Babylon" by Stephen Vincent Benet.

    • profile image

      PointyBlkHat 

      5 months ago

      Hi! I’m looking for a short story I read a long (long!) time ago. A man came out of hiding after a war or other great disaster. He’s seeing things he’s never seen before, and he (and the class I was in at the time) had to use the clues to figure out where he was.

      One clue was a pile of rubble with the “ASHING”, on one side of the building. Another was several gigantic animal/creatures with huge tentacle-arms, that must be some kind of dinosaur.

      That’s all that I can remember. Can you all think in your brilliant minds and tell me the name and author of this story? It’s driving me batty!

    • profile image

      Mj 

      6 months ago

      These are great sort stories

    • profile image

      unanimous 

      7 months ago

      These stories are so interesting. I enjoyed them all. So creative

    • profile image

      jeffery sasuke 

      7 months ago

      they are very interesting

    • profile image

      Uchiha sasuke 

      13 months ago

      I like all your stories

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