In the summer of 2013 I was too sick to focus on writing a novel and decided writing short stories might be more manageable. I started reading online science-fiction/fantasy magazines, took several classes on short story writing, and read several short story collections. Like most of my reading, I tend to like science-fiction/fantasy or chick-lit romance stories best.
Favorite Stories Read Online
There are lots of stories to read online for free—including many science-fiction/fantasy stories. I try to read a new story every day. Most of the stories I read are just okay, but about once a week, I read a story I really like —a ratio of 80% decent stories to 20% wonderful stories. Considering I choose my stories pretty randomly that seems like a good ratio, about the same ratio I have with books. Here’s a sampling of my favorite stories:
On the Big-Fisted Circuit, by Cat Rambo ( Daily Science Fiction.com, July 12, 2013) – I enjoyed this flash fiction piece about futuristic robotic cage fighting. This was my first Cat Rambo story, and since reading it, I’ve read dozens more by her. Her stories tend to be clever, imaginative, and feminist, often with literary touches. She also teaches awesome online short story classes, and writes an interesting blog and twitter feed.
One, by Sinead O’Hart (Daily Science Fiction.com, October 21, 2013) – In just 1,000 words this flashfic piece tells an entire sci-fi story with a twist. This is the kind of story I aspire to write one day.
The Wrong Foot, by Stephanie Burgis (Daily Science Fiction.com, November 1, 2013) – A charmingly cheeky spin on Cinderella.
Stitched Wings, by Beth Cato (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, December 26, 2013) – A lovely heart-wrenching story about a child who catches fairies.
Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable, by Cat Rambo (Clarkeworld Magazine, February 2014)- What if you could clone your beloved dead pet or even your dead spouse?
Cattail Heart, by Kate Heartfield (Daily Science Fiction. com, August 29, 2014) – A thoughtful story that starts off with a Native American woman being forced into a colonial boarding school and ends with a science fiction twist.
Whose Face This Is I Do Not Know, by Cat Rambo (Clarkesworld Magazine, May 2011) – Another good Cat Rambo story about a unique young woman whose looks can change.
Favorite Online Magazines and Podcasts
Daily Science Fiction.com– This is my favorite short story site. The stories are mostly flash fiction—so they’re quite short, which I like—but they also tend to be interesting and entertaining as well. There’s a nice range from the very light to the more thoughtful, and a good mix of science fiction and fantasy. The site will deliver a daily story (Monday-Friday) to your email box. You can also read the stories on the website—though each story is posted to the site a week after its email delivery.
Clarkesworld– This is a literary magazine for science fiction and fantasy stories, that also has a podcast—available on the site and on iTunes. You can also subscribe to the magazine on Kindle or Nook, or can purchase a paper copy, too. I find I either really like the stories in this magazine or totally don’t get them, with little in-between. There are enough I like that I keep coming back to read though.
Lightspeed Magazine– This magazine has a wide range of science fiction/fantasy stories and I usually end up liking most of what I read here. They recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign to produce a special issue called, “Women Destroy Science Fiction”, full of stories by and about women. The campaign was so successful they were able to make fantasy and horror issues as well. Lightspeed also has a podcast with one new story a week on the site and on iTunes. You can also subscribe to the magazine on Kindle or Nook or can purchase a paper copy, too.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies– I’ve only read a few stories in this fantasy magazine but liked what I read. They also have a podcast on the site and on iTunes, and you can also subscribe to an ebook form of the magazine or get it on Kindle. I didn’t see a Nook subscription, though you can buy individual copies of the magazine for Nook.
Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod– 3 podcasts available on iTunes with weekly short stories. Escape Pod is for science fiction stories, Podcastle has fantasy stories, and Pseudopod is the horror story podcast.