Good afternoon, dear ones,
I hope you are having a wonderful one.
I thought I would celebrate Christmas this year by sharing some of my favorite resources for science fiction readers and writers.
On this first day of Christmas, I’ve compiled links to the best free-to-read stories I’ve found online this year (the ones I kept returning to reread again and again), as well as a list of my favorite regularly updating free-to-read science fiction and fantasy publications:
Without further ado, I give you C. L. Kagmi’s Favorites list for the year 2016:
Best Free-to-Read Short Stories
I’m listing these with bulletpoints instead of number rankings because there would be at least three ties for first, second, and third place if I tried to use numbers.
Of note, some of these were not published for the first time in 2016 – but they are new to me, or newly free-to-read, as of this year.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy these half as much as I did!
Best Sci-Fi Shorts
- A Soldier of the City, by David Moles
- Lion Walk, by Mary Rosenblum
- I Remember Your Face, by E. K. Wagner
- Helio Music, by Mike Buckley
- Fish Dance, by Eric Schwitzgebel
- A Tower for the Coming World, by Maggie Clark
- The Green Man Cometh, by Rich Larson
- Breathe, by Cassandra Khaw
- During the Pause, by Adam-Troy Castro
Best Fantasy Shorts
- Geometries of Belonging, by Rose Lemberg
- Held Close in Syllables of Light, by Rose Lemberg
- Grandmother Nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds, by Rose Lemberg
- Every Winter, by E. Catherine Tobler
- Clarkesworld Magazine
I am apparently not alone in this opinion, as Clarkesworld is also the most award-winning online science fiction and fantasy publication I’m aware of.Each month, Clarkesworld releases an array of high-qualify science fiction and fantasy shorts and novelettes, which often dance with literary greatness as well as being exceptionally thrilling. About half of my favorite stories of the year appeared in this publication.
Truly dedicated to the mission of spreading thought-provoking sci-fi literature, Clarkesworld releases all of its content as free-to-read while simultaneously paying authors some of the best rates in the industry. It is supported by purely voluntary e-subscriptions, as well as a Patreon through which interested parties can sign up to support the magazine.
- Apex Magazine I just discovered this gem, which publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror, this year. While it’s not as consistently blow-you-out-of-the-water well-crafted as Clarkesworld, its works consistently provoke deep thought and take readers on an emotional journey. I’ve spent many an hour reading through Apex’ archives.Like Clarkesworld, Apex is free-to-read and pays authors professional rates. It is supported by the sales of anthologies, as well as its own Patreon.
Like Apex and Clarkesworld, GigaNOTosaurus.org reliably provides free-to-read speculative fiction of very high quality.
It has published some of the most impressive worldbuilding I’ve seen this year. From an alternate history London where witches with the Industrial Revolution to an android who must fight for his personhood in court, GigaNOTosaurus never fails to immerse me in an engaging and thought-provoking setting.
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Beneath Ceaseless Skies is the only publication I read regularly that doesn’t publish traditional science fiction. Their publication guidelines specifically state that they’re not interested in the future of today – but boy, do they make up for that in the quality of alternate universes they deliver.
I am an avowed and unrepentant fan of Rose Lemberg, whose Birdverse boasts masterfully crafted magic and culture systems unlike any I’ve seen, and whose tales are invariably emotionally affirming. All of her Birdverse tales are free to read through in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, as well as a large volume of other compelling and heartstring-tugging unique fantasy stories.
- Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
Fantastic Stories is a bit hit-or-miss – many of its stories feel less than entirely fresh, as though they’ve been “done” before. But perhaps that’s an inevitable consequence of its strict word count limits. There is, after all, only so much worldbuilding and nuance a writer can pack into 3,000 words.
However, that same word count makes Fantastic Stories a fun and addictive read. The stories fly by so quickly that by the time you’ve finished one, you want another – and this publication offers a smattering of decently crafted science fiction, fantasy, and horror shorts, which sometimes manage to be truly surprising.