Regular price: $17.50

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

From Ellison to Clarke to Merrill, hear a dozen unabridged science-fiction short stories, considered the best of the best from the 20th century. They are: "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner" by Lawrence Watt Evans, "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison, "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke, "The Crystal Spheres" by David Brin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin, "Huddling Place" by Clifford D. Simak, "That Only a Mother" by Judith Merrill, "Fermi and Frost" by Frederick Pohl, "Tangents" by Greg Bear, "Bears Discover Fire" by Terry Bisson, "Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell, and "Twilight" by John W. Campbell.
"Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner", Copyright ©1987 by Lawrence Watt Evans; "Jeffty Is Five", Copyright ©1977 by Harlan Ellison; "The Nine Billion Names of God", Copyright ©1953, Renewed 1981 by Arthur C. Clarke; "The Crystal Spheres", Copyright ©1984 by David Brin; "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", Copyright ©1973 by Ursula K. LeGuin; "Huddling Place", Copyright ©1944 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc., Renewed 1972 by Clifford D. Simak; "That Only a Mother", Copyright ©1948 by Judith Merrill; "Fermi and Frost", Copyright ©1985 by Davis Publications, Inc.; "Tangents", Copyright ©1986 by Omni Publications International Ltd.; "Bears Discover Fire", Copyright ©1990 by Davis Publications Inc., "Allamagoosa", Copyright ©1955 by Street & Smith Publications, Inc.; and "Twilight", Copyright ©1935 by Street & Smith Publications; Copyright (P)1998 by NewStar Media, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 3.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall

Biased toward the last 20 years of sci-fi

The only quibble I can find with this collection is the title. This is a great collection of sci-fi short stories, but it's a reach to call it a collection of the greatest of the 20th century. The majority of the stories were published within only the last 20 years or so. However, I still recommend this collection enthusiastically because of the inclusion of "Jeffty is Five", "The 9 Billion Names of God", "Alamagoosa", and "Why I Left Harry's All Night Hamburgers". Overall, a nice introduction to the short story format of sci-fi.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michelle
  • LondonUnited Kingdom
  • 11-16-06

Greatest ever? Maybe not, but great, yes!

I too must admit surprise at the number of very low reviews. I've been an Audible subscriber more than 3 years now. This was one of the first books I bought. I was first introduced to science fiction in the 80s by reading endless anthologies. This, in audiobook form, is an excellent set of stunning short stories.

1) Jeffty Is Five by Harlan Ellison (read by Harlan Ellison)-A Hugo (1978)/Nebula (1977) winner about a very weird form of time travel/alternate realities.

2) Twilight by John W. Campbell, Jr.-originally published in 1934 under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart. One of the fathers of the "Golden Age of SF" & a prominent anthology/magazine editor.

3) The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin-1974 Hugo winner exploring the tension between a just & a happy society.

4) Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson-Hugo (1991)/Nebula (1990) winner.

5) The Crystal Spheres by David Brin-Hugo winner (1985).

6) That Only a Mother by Judith Merril-Canadian/American SF writer.

7) Allamagoosa by Eric Frank Russell-Hugo winner (1955). Military comedy. Anyone who has dealt with bureaucracy should appreciate this form-ticking SNAFU.

8) Tangents by Greg Bear-Hugo (1987)/Nebula (1986) winner.

9) The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke-Hugo winner (1954).

10) Huddling Place by Clifford D. Simak-Grand Master.

11) Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers by Lawrence Watt Evans (read by Will Wheaton)-Hugo winner (1988) exploring other realities & the axiom, "You can never go home again."

12) Fermi and Frost by Frederik Pohl-Grand Master & Hugo winner (1986) here for nuclear winter & Armageddon.

Out of the 12 stories, 9 are Hugo winners for best short story in their year & 3 won both awards. So while these stories, when examined over the last several decades, might not be the "greatest" ever, they were certainly "great" in the years they were published & many still stand today as fine examples of well-crafted SF short stories. Enjoy!

72 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bryan
  • Monument, CO, USA
  • 11-04-08

Great Stories in a Nice Package

Any story anthology that includes "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke is worth your time. From the first time I read this story a thousand or so years ago, it has stayed with me and been something I have always remembered. This is the first time I've encountered this in any audiobook, and would recommend this one simply for the joy this one piece of it will bring.

However, this anthology includes some other really remarkable stories which a sci-fi junkie will remember - but that are very accessible to anyone. Some of the best wordsmiths around are included, with some of their best stories. Some of the really outstanding ones include "Bears Discover Fire" by Terry Bisson and "Tangents" by Greg Bear. However, there are no stinkers in the whole set.

The production values are above average - a variety of narrators and they give it lots of energy in their delivery.

Overall a worthwhile investment in time. And a must-have for the true sci-fi junkie.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mike
  • Valencia, Spain
  • 01-27-09

If not the greatest certainly Classics...

A fine collection of stories better called Classics rather than the greatest.

However one nagging feature of this recording is that there is less than a 1 second gap between tracks! This eats up that essential pause needed after such calibre of tale for reflection.

Other than that I really enjoyed hearing these again.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What A shame...

Reading the one-star reviews I can only think:
What a shame that some people think that a candy bar is good food and upon encountering an exquisitely succulent steak, spit it out and warn everyone away from it. "It doesn't have any sugar, it doesn't fizz, it isn't even dyed flourescent green. What crap. It's so boring!"

Happily though, I don't have to worry about the passers-by actually missing out on anything. I've read all these stories before, most several times, because they have appeared in several publications and anthologies over the years and probably will continue to. So any actual fan who's young or just new to the scene but who can appreciate excellence, will almost certainly encouter them many times in other places regardless of or these reviews.

30 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ken
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 10-21-12

Great stories but the greatest??

A very enjoyable book of short science fiction stories. Well worth a read, but I am not sure how they got into the list of the greatest of the 20th century. That said, I would be very happy to recommend this book if you are a lover of Sci-Fi.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good, but the greatest?

Some really good stories here, but a bit optimistic with saying they are the greatest. However, well worth a listen, especially if you are new to the genre

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Norbert
  • CHEYENNE, WYOMING, United States
  • 11-29-11

Ok, not great

was a nice listen. great for the price and I would say it is well worth the money.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

pretty cool

some of these "short" stories were a little too short to even feel satisfying. they just abruptly end very confusing. and the recordings sound tinny and old. those are the only two complaints I have.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enjoyable Variety of Science Fiction Stories

I would not be able to say that these are the greatest science fiction stories since I don't know which stories to compare them with. I would say though that they are interesting stories and that they are entertaining. I enjoyed most of them with the exception of one or two that I can't recall. The performances were great. If you like listening to science-fiction stories, then I would highly recommend this Audible book to you.

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Rainer
  • 02-21-16

Terrible Quality Audio

What did you like best about The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century? What did you like least?

Favourite Story was the Crystal Spheres - it sounds mystical, but it's not at all - and it still holds up to today

What did you like best about this story?

Most of the stories were timeless.

Which character – as performed by David Ackroyd and Wil Wheaton – was your favourite?

Don't really recall either narrators - they sounded more like they were recorder 20+ years ago.

Was The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century worth the listening time?

Definitely worth listening to, if anything for quick bite sized stories - good for 1 hour road trips.

Any additional comments?

The audio quality is TERRIBLE. It sounds like a recording of a telephone call through a radio on a cassette tape. I found a lot of the more unusual names and words impossible to hear clearly, which is kinda important for science fiction.Performance and stories 5/5Audio Quality 0/5