Often, the literary market can get saturated with the same types of stories.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get tired of certain cliches that permeate many contemporary genres of fictions, and sometimes I just need to reads stories that break those familiar concepts and molds.
In a way, short fiction, has the ability to explore fresh new concepts without consuming too much of our time. Sometimes they can also work wonders when we want to get out of a reading slump.
They bring that perfect amount of weirdness and unexpectedness into our lives.
Literary magazines are the perfect place to look for high-quality short stories. Most of the best magazines out there are also completely free.
Today I’m sharing my favorite magazines that publish Fantasy and Science Fiction short stories:
1. Clarkesworld Magazine
Founded by Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld has been around since 2006. It is freely available online in written and audio format. Monthly issues include short stories (some retellings as well), interviews, podcasts and incredible artwork.
Although they publish in both genres, the magazine is more focused on science fiction. At Clarkesworld, they publish stories from authors from all around the globe. If you want to experience something different, then Clarkesworld is definitely the right magazine for you.
- “When We Were Starless” by Simone Heller
- “Xingzhou” by Ng Yi-Sheng
2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
BCS publishes an issue every two weeks. Each issue contains two short stories (and amazing artwork) and is published on their web page, as eBook or podcast.
Contrary to Clarkesworld, BCS is completely focused on the fantasy genre. What I like the most about this magazine is the fact that they strive to merge the Fantasy and Literary genres into a new concept.
If you like stories with surprising world building and beautiful descriptions, then BCS is the perfect magazine for you.
- “The Sweetest Skill” by Tony Pi
- “The War of Light and Shadow, in Five Dishes” by Siobhan Carroll
3. The Dark
The Dark is a monthly publication devoted to Horror and Dark Fantasy and it’s perfect if you like a bit of emotion and intensity.
As a writer I do tend to be a little descriptive in my stories. Reading this magazine gives me the opportunity to truly learn out to give this emotional depth to my stories.
- “Who Will Clean Our Spirits When We’re Gone?” by Tlotlo Tsamaase
- “Snake season” by Erin Roberts
4. Daily Science Fiction
This is an online publication dedicated to our two favorite genres and it brings a new very short story every weekday (no longer than 1,000 words – also called flash fiction).
I’m not usually into flash fiction, mainly because I struggle to keep my fiction short (ups!). But if you only have 5 minutes today and you want to read something fun, just go to their website and click on the “Random Story” button.
As a reader you may be surprised. As a writer you may feel inspired. And for a simple 5 minute investment those are really interesting returns!
5. Stupefying stories
Stupefying stories is a magazine dedicated to the fantasy and science fiction genres. It is edited by Bruce Bethke whom often publishes hilarious short blog posts on the magazine’s blog.
I completely devoured their latest issue (issue 21) and fell in love with the type of stories they bring to the table. From all the magazines in this list I found all it’s short stories to be quite interesting, compelling and fun.
Stupefying stories is a smaller magazine compared to the previous 4, but I do find that they bring something widely different to our two favorite genres.
Recommended stories (all from issue 21):
- “Cog and Bone” by M. Lynette Pedersen
- “Tendrils beneath the skin” by Derrick Boden
- “Lenses” by Eric Dontigny
- “Wayfaring stranger” by Peter Wood
Ok, I’ll stop for now! Unfortunately, this magazine is not free, but you can see of their previously published stories here.
6. Hypnos Magazine
Hypnos is another smaller literary magazine dedicated to these two amazing genres. They are specialized in weird fiction, and they strive to publish works with the vibes of H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. If you like these two authors you’ll definitely like this magazine.
I haven’t bought one of their issues yet, but I did explore their “Excerpts” page and found many stories to be just delicious. Try starting with this one if you feel like reading some “Poe” tonight:
“The strings of the marionettes” by Lawrence Buentello.
I hope you liked my suggestions. There are many other magazines I haven’t listed, these are just my personal favorites at the moment.
Do you like to read short stories? Do you usually buy anthologies or magazines? If you don’t, I hope I have inspired you to try it out!
Image credits: Matthew Henry on Unsplash