Hertzsprung-Russell rating: B/A1

Available in: Best Short Stories Of H.G. Wells

Wells was the Pink Floyd of early scifi; prolific, visionary beyond his time and British. But this story isn’t one of his best. It’s a foray into fantasy (the ‘magic spell’ kind of fantasy, not the sexy nurse kind) that draws away from the hard scientific foundation of Wells’ more notable work. And when that happens, know what you get? You get Pulse.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A10-4.5

Available in: Irish Folk Tales


Two travelers on a lonely road encounter a demonic pig. Terrified, they run, but the bedeviled ham follows them until it vanishes mysteriously, leaving just a whiff of brimstone in the air. Delicious, delicious bacon-scented brimstone. Personally, I prefer my fictional pigs friendly, bipedal and wearing white gloves while gesturing invitingly for me to eat them. That’s also how I prefer my women.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: G10-3.5

Available in: 75 Short Masterpieces


A rambling old grandmother in an equally rambling old house warns her grandkids to steer clear of the magical trunk in the attic – it’ll swallow them whole, she warns. They ignore her (as all elderly people everywhere should be ignored) and, sure enough, they vanish one by one as they climb inside. No big loss: if the magical trunk didn’t get them, the bewitched china cabinet or the enchanted credenza would have.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: F106.5+

Available in: 100 Years Of Science Fiction: Book One



In this visionary tale of a glorious world-to-be, humankind’s airways have become populated with thousands of flying machines that criss-cross the globe delivering goods and sundries. ‘Sundries’ is always plural; you never hear of someone buying a single sundry. While we’re on the subject, what are ‘notions’?  And why are some ice cream desserts called ‘novelties’? Ice cream’s been around forever – there’s no novelty to it any more. Unless, of course, you had the notion to make a novelty ice cream sundry. Now that’s visionary – take note, Mr. Kipling.

Hertzsprung-Russell rating: A0.1

Available in: The Oxford Book Of Science Fiction Stories


Things heat up considerably on planet Earth after a gigantic second sun mysteriously appears in our sky. Oceans boil then fall as scalding rain, the sauna industry tanks and Buster Poindexter is mercilessly beaten in the street (which, let’s be honest, was bound to happen anyway). And, yet, the story’s lone Republican congressman still insists global warming is nothing to worry about.

Hertzsrpung-Russell rating: A10-3.5

Available in: The Best Of Saki


A small English town is shocked to discover one of the local boys is actually a werewolf. Conversely, a small English wolfpack is shocked to discover one of the local cubs is a wolfwere. Anyone could be a feral wolf in disguise; I’d start by rounding up Will Ferrell and Dick Wolf. Even if they’re bona fide humans you’ve still got the beginnings of the most hilarious sex crime police procedural ever committed to film.