Where to find free SF/F short stories online? Lots of places!

Fantasy Magazine September 2011 Issue Steampunk NapoleonI love short stories. They’re perfect to read after you’ve finished a sprawling epic fantasy doorstopper or an equally lengthy galaxy-spanning space opera adventure.

Science fiction and fantasy have the highest word counts compared to other genre fiction, and it’s nice to know that we can still get our genre fix in convenient bite-sized bits.

Here are a couple of online magazines with free short stories. Their names get mentioned in the SF/F blogosphere, so even if you’re not familiar with them, you can be assured that the internet approves of their editorial choices.

Free Online SF/F Magazines

Strange Horizons – covers all speculative fiction

Daily Science Fiction  – covers all speculative fiction

Philippine Genre Stories – covers all speculative fiction and some crime fiction

Luna Station Quarterly – covers all speculative fiction written by up and coming women authors

AE The Canadian Science Fiction Review – focuses on science fiction, but sometimes branches into science-fantasy and slipstream

Kasma Science Fiction – focuses on science fiction

Ray Gun Revival – focuses on old school pulp-inspired sci-fi: space opera and golden age goodness


Pay-for SF/F Magazines with Some Free Short Stories Online

Fantasy Magazine – focuses on fantasy. Yes, the badass steampunk Napoleon picture on the top right is from their latest issue.

Light Speed Magazine – focuses on science fiction

And if you want even more free fiction, the good folks over at SF Signal always have their giant free fiction lists. Their lists cover everything free and fiction: online short stories, web serials, ebooks, podcasts, and more.


Don’t want to read them on your computer? Maybe give Instapaper a try.

Instapaper is a tool that saves and formats webpages for mobile devices. It does other stuff too, but it’s particularly well-suited for offline reading, like when want to read that short story when you’re on the subway or on a trip to the Wireless Great Beyond. To use it, you just go to the Instapaper website sign up for a free account, then you install a little “Read Later” bookmark on your browser. When you click on the bookmark, it sends that webpage to your Instapaper account.

Instapaper Read Later

See the handy "Read Later" button?

When you have several webpages that you want to download for your reading pleasure, you log back into your Instapaper account, then you can download those saved pages either for printing, or as a .mobi file (Kindle), or as an .epub file (Kobo, Nook, Sony, etc).

Instapaper Download to Kindle

Paper, .mobi, or .epub?

For Kindle 3 users: They can do an automatic wireless delivery to your Kindle (yes, only for Kindle 3 users) by sending the .mobi to your @free.kindle.com account. You can choose between different delivery schedules (e.g. have unread articles sent to your Kindle daily).

For Google Reader users: The pages can be sent to your Google Reader feeds, and it even works on the Google Reader apps for iOS devices.

For iOS iPhone/iPad users: The developer wants to make money off you. The free Instapaper app has been phased out, but the full version is available for $4.99 and probably worth the price.

For Android users: The developer doesn’t want your money. They’re not even developing an app for Android. Your best bet is to use a .epub reading app and just download the .epub whenever you’re online.


Do you read short stories online? Do you have any other suggested SF/F sites? And how do you read these stories–in front of the computer or on a mobile device? Feel free to hit the comments and share.

About Caroline Cryonic

Formerly known as Frida Fantastic. A speculative fiction book blogger from Vancouver, Canada currently living in Quezon City, Philippines.

Posted on September 7, 2011, in Fantasy, Instapaper, iOS, Kindle, Mobile reading, Offline reading, online magazines, Pulp, Science fiction, SF Chatter, Short Stories and Novellas. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’d like to give a blatant plug to a couple of my own free stories available for download. For science fiction, there’s “But As A Soldier, For His Country” (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/10906), the short story from Terry Carr’s UNIVERSE 5 anthology which I later revised and expanded into my novel THE ETERNITY BRIGADE (which Frida has graciously reviewed elsewhere on her blog). For fantasy fans, there’s “The Djinn Garden” (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/2162), which is a self-contained novelette excerpt from my Arabian Nights-style Parsina Saga. I offer them up for readers’ enjoyment. Enjoy!

  2. This is also a plug or perhaps a plugette. And its about podcasts so it may not be of interest.
    Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction has done a series of podcasts of Australian Sf stories read by their writers my own “Bats” is among them. “Zombie Camels ate my brains” is my favorite the site is at http://www.tisf.com.au

    • Thanks for the link! Yeah not exactly fitting in with the post topic, but I love podcasts. They’re so great for getting a fiction fix when your eyes are too tired to read. I love how Australian authors are so organized in promoting spec-fic in their country. I don’t think we’re as organized over here in Canada (but blog readers, feel free to correct me, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong on this front :) )

      One free fiction podcast site I’ve plugged several times here on my own blog, but is worthy of repeat plugging, is the Decoder Ring Theatre. They do half-hour podcasts in the style of old radio dramas, and they’re especially awesome because everyone involved is a trained actor from the Toronto theatre scene, so it’s not just some person reading prose. They have more of an old school pulp theme than a spec-fic theme, but I’m very fond of their masked men/superhero series, The Red Panda Adventures: http://decoderringtheatre.com/index.php?id=rpa, and quite possibly even fonder of their non-spec pulp detective series, Black Jack Justice: http://decoderringtheatre.com/index.php?id=bjj

  3. Yay, plugs :D! I have my own free fantasy short story collection out called “Angels and Demons: Perspectives of a Violent Afterlife” on Smashwords. It’s unrelated to the science fiction concepts I have in “Lucifer’s Odyssey” and has more of a traditional setting (i.e., angels and demons fighting over mankind’s souls).

    P.S. The guy in the image on the front of the PGS site is super creepy!!!

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