The Man from Beyond - John Wyndham

A man is caged and displayed on a museum in Venus. A Venusian child is intrigued by this bizzare creature, who is unable to communicate in a known tongue but by signs and symbols. This creature conveys a message that makes him subject to scientific inquiry by scientists of Venus. What the earth creature divulges is a story both mesmerizing and perplexing that involves espionage, expeditions and revenge.

Publication history of The Man from Beyond

Nightfall - Isaac Asimov

After an eternity of light, how would darkness be perceived by one? This is the central plot of Nightfall, the celebrated novellete and the subsequent novelization by Robert Silverberg. A planet which sees 6 suns is finally coming to its first darkness in history owing to a eclipse. This also has a significance in their widespread religious cult that prophecies the end of the world.
Told in a binding and suspenseful prose that builds up impending doom, Nightfall is an interesting perspective about a race who has to speculate planetary knowledge we humans take for granted today.

Publication history of Nightfall

Before Eden - Arthur C. Clarke

Clarke's Before Eden starts as any generic planetary exploration would. Two men from an expedition who investigate the polar regions of Venus and find the less harsh atmosphere ready for the evolution of life. But has it already? The plot takes through a vivid scientific expedition that visualizes barren Venusian landscape and something even more curious, a moving shape that hints at early evolution.
The story's success is that it doesn't tread a cliched path, but instead takes the reader by surprise in the very last paragraph.

Publication history of Before Eden

Born of Man and Woman - Richard Matheson

Matheson's classic story is incredibly short, but enough to evoke a fear and loathing that lasts. Written in the point of view from a imprisoned narrator of obscure nature the plot drives on what he perceives and experiences around his captivity.

Publication history of Born of Man and Woman

The Roads Must Roll - Robert A. Heinlein

What a plot it is, both literally and storywise. Heinlein explores social order, industrialization and technology of the near/far future with a flair for prose and a paced storytelling. The mechanical roads that replace the conventional highways and motor vehicles have transformed the entire face of future society. The immaculate details of its functionality makes it less science fiction and more science. Heinlein takes the reader through an visionary journey that is technical, philosophical and grittily visual.

The Nine Billion Names of God - Arthur C. Clarke

Nine Billion Names of God is shorter than anticipated, but Clarke creates a perplexing phenomenon contained in that restricted space using only simple prose. A Tibetan lamasery contracts a computer and two technicians for a program that computes nine billion names of god. There maybe much speculation of the plot direction and to each your own it's best interpreted.

Second Variety - Philip K. Dick

Told in Dick's ever soothing prose, Second Variety ponders a post-nuclear  Earth, with the Russian army invading most of the  remaining North American regions and the US government establishing themselves on the Moon. North American is a desolate battleground with the last remaining US troops posted and scattered to fight the invaders. But there is a force behind the US troops that brings eminent doom to the Russians on sight. Metallic monsters programmed to take down enemy life forms. But within the technology which has almost won the war for them, a new threat has risen.
Second Variety is atmospheric, suspenseful, heavily reliant on dialogue and as any Dick material: cinemaworthy. I should note the last line of the story single-handedly carries the moral weight of Second Variety.

Publication History of Second Variety

Universe - Robert A. Heinlein

Heinlein's works are ranked high, being one of the 'big three' of Science Fiction: his language is accessible and pleasant: his stories rich and vivid. 'Universe' is a novella of adventure and exploration, conflict between science and faith and an obvious outline of religious faith of humans drawn into a hard science fiction backdrop. It's characters are interesting, juvenile as in other Heinlein's signature works and kept at a never-dull pace. An excellent read of novella length.
The novella along with its sequel 'Common Sense' make up Heinlein's novel 'Orphans in the Sky'.

Publication history of Universe