Adam Marek, master of the weird modern story, recommends

(CLASSIC: first published in The Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader, 1951)

A simple story about an extraordinary discovery on the moon. The Sentinel was the seed from which Clarke developed the awesome 2001: A Space Odyssey. It puts a clear and unforgettable image in your mind – I love short stories that send postcards to your eternal brain. Clarke brings space travel to life with a breathtaking level of specificity. My favourite thing about this story is that the moment the astronaut first sees the alien beacon, he is frying sausages.

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(MODERN: from Interzone, 1982)

A former NASA doctor and his wife return to an abandoned Cape Kennedy – the inception point for a bizarre illness affecting the whole of Florida and spreading outwards. Sufferers are afflicted by episodes in which time is temporarily slowed to a point of near stillness – the episodes increasing in frequency and length as the sufferers drift towards their final, never-ending moment. The doctor is trying to track down the astronaut who committed the first murder in space, thereby ending the space age and causing this psychic illness… amazing, glass-clear, Ballardian oddity.

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