The best speculative short stories about life

Daniel Robledo Author Of Cages of the Soul
By Daniel Robledo

Who am I?

Life is a complex matter, and so sometimes you need a few aliens, werewolves, and dragons in order to make sense of it. From struggling with one’s career, to finding your identity, to finding forgiveness in myself, I’ve struggled with a lot in life, and these are all things that I tackle in my stories, because in addition to being entertaining, I also believe that what we read should also be insightful.

I wrote...

Cages of the Soul

By Daniel Robledo,

Book cover of Cages of the Soul

What is my book about?

A genre-bending collection of literary fantasy and horror, Cages of the Soul features 5 different stories, each centered around characters that are trapped. Some by social, some by physical, and some by psychological circumstances.

The books I picked & why

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Wolverton Station

By Joe Hill,

Book cover of Wolverton Station

Why this book?

Many of the stories contained within Joe Hill’s collection Full Throttle are superb, however, there’s one in particular that stands above the rest, and that’s Wolverton Station. Wolverton Station is an anomaly, in that most of it is dedicated to fleshing out the main character, a cynical, middle-aged man who works for a large corporation. The story takes a hard turn into the surreal in its second half, but in doing so, it highlights how our protagonist sees the world, and how that world might see him. Wolverton Station is one of those stories that showed me that when it comes to a straightforward short story, the devil is in the details.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars

By Mary Robinette Kowal,

Book cover of The Lady Astronaut of Mars

Why this book?

The Lady Astronaut of Mars takes place in a science fictional world, but like all the best sci-fi, it knows to keep its focus on its characters. There are no hour-long passages about future technologies or scientific theory. Instead it uses its setting to tell a human story about the missed opportunities in life and about growing old. Second chances are rare, and sometimes the decision about what to do isn’t so clear, but The Lady Astronaut of Mars reminded me that more often than not, experiences are worth having.

Stories of Your Life and Others

By Ted Chiang,

Book cover of Stories of Your Life and Others

Why this book?

Even if you have watched the theatrical adaptation, Arrival, this story is still well worth the read, thanks to its in-depth look at its characters' lives. Stories of Your Life is one of those sci-fi short stories that manages to be both educational and emotional, allowing us a peek into what first contact might look like, and how we humans struggle with the abstract notion of free will. The core of this story is about a relationship between a mother and her daughter, and while I won’t give away how this culminates, I can safely say that it will have you tearing up.


By Isaac Asimov,

Book cover of Liar!

Why this book?

Asimov is known as the grandfather of A.I. Science Fiction, and yet, you don’t have to have much of an interest in robotics in order to appreciate many of his stories. One of the best examples of this would be Liar! A story that tackles how a robot, one which isn’t allowed to hurt humans, would try to circumvent peoples’ emotions in a situation in which their desire for career success and romance are on the line. As someone who has dealt with all sides of these affairs, Lair! Is one of those stories that reminded me that no matter what, I’m only human.

Ghastle and Yule

By Josh Malerman,

Book cover of Ghastle and Yule

Why this book?

Ghastle and Yule is one of those stories that proved to me how unconventional fiction can be. Case in point, Ghastly and Yule is a story about two rival horror filmmakers that, with each subsequent movie, seek to one-up each other, until it all culminates with one violent event. On the surface, this could just be seen as a story about people going crazy, but as a creative myself, I recognized that this story is about much more than that. Ghastle and Yule wants you to ask yourself questions about the purpose of art, the nature of obsession, and how well you really know people, including yourself. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Mars, robotics, and free will?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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