Not too long ago, I got asked for a list of venues for free science fiction and fantasy short stories. Most of what I read comes from recommendations on twitter or blogs that I then bookmark into my browser to read later. I don’t tend to read any issue in its entirety, instead jumping around depending on what catches my interest. Yet, I do have publications I tend to prefer, and they make great starting places if you’re just getting into the short fiction scene. Without further adieu, here’s my top venues for free science fiction and fantasy short stories:
If you forced me to chose just one short fiction publication, it’d be Uncanny Magazine. Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas consistently find and publish amazing short stories from both established authors and newcomers to the field. I still need to catch up on all their stories, but some of my favorites include “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander, “Midnight Hour” by Mary Robinette Kowal, “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch, and “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara.
Clarkesworld has been publishing great fiction for over ten years, and many of their stories have audio versions narrated by Kate Baker, who’s quickly become one of my favorite narrators. I subscribe to their podcast and listen to their stories when doing art projects or household chores. Some of my favorite Clarkesworld stories include “Weep for Day” by Indra Das, “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer, “The Saint of the Sidewalks” by Kat Howard, “Seven Cups of Coffee” by A.C. Wise, and “The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” by Daryl Gregory.
Lightspeed is a award winning monthly magazine of science fiction and fantasy. They also have a podcast I subscribe to, and I enjoy their special issues, such as “Queers Destroy Science Fiction.” Some of my favorite Lightspeed stories include “Secondhand Bodies” by JY Yang, “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station” by Caroline M. Yoachim, “Help Me Follow My Sister Into the Land of the Dead” by Carmen Marie Machado, and “The Venus Effect” by Joseph Allen Hill.
Strange Horizons publishes all forms of speculative fiction, from sci-fi to fantasy to horror and everything in between. They’re another venue whose podcast I subscribe to, and some of my favorite Strange Horizons stories include “Nkásht íí” by Darcie Little Badger, “Utopia, LOL?” by Jamie Wahls, “Das Steingeschöpf” by G.V. Anderson and “The Peacock” by Nabil Hijazi and Ted Infinity.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies focuses on publishing literary adventure fantasy, fantasy set in a historical period or a secondary world and that focuses on characters. Beneath Ceaseless Skies releases two stories every two weeks, and like many of the other venues, they also have a podcast I subscribe to. Some of my favorite Beneath Ceaseless Skies stories include “A Salvaging of Ghosts” by Aliette de Bodard, “The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles” by Rachel K. Jones, “Foxfire, Foxfire” by Yoon Ha Lee.
Apex Magazine publishes science fiction, fantasy and horror, and they publish their stories piecemeal throughout the month. Like many of the other venues, they also have a podcast, although I’m not that familiar with the Apex podcast. Some of my favorite Apex Magazine stories include “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse, “Ten Day’s Grace” by Foz Meadows, “Jackolope Wives” by Ursula Vernon, and “Memorials” by Aliette de Bodard.
Tor.com is probably most known for their novella line and their commentary posts on science fiction and fantasy. However, their website publishes original short fiction as well. Some of my favorite short stories from Tor.com include “A Kiss with Teeth” by Max Gladstone, “Red as Blood and White as Bone” by Theodora Gross, “The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri, “The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu, and “That Game We Played During War” by Carrie Vaughn.
While I’m going to end my list there, those seven are far from the only venues out there. Some other venues I’ve enjoyed stories from are Fireside Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, The Book Smugglers, Daily Science Fiction, Nightmare Magazine, Expanded Horizons, GigaNotoSaurus, and Glittership.
Do you have any favorite venues for science fiction and fantasy short stories? Let me know in the comments!