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41 Free Science Fiction & Fantasy-ish Short Stories


In no particular order, I made a little list of forty-one (legally) free sf/f short stories. Well, some of them pre-date the genres and some are either supernatural horror or magic realism and some are perhaps long enough to be novelettes or novellas. But they're all some of my favourites. Most links will work internationally, but the stuff on Tor.com is about 50:50. Enjoy!

Immersion, by Aliette de Bodard
-All You Zombies-, by Robert Heinlein
A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury
The Courtship of the Queen, by Bruce McAllister
The Woman Who Shook the World Tree, by Michael Swanwick
The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Women Men Don't See, by James Tiptree Jr.
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius(pdf), by Jorge Luis Borges
Clockwork Fairies, by Cat Rambo
The Way of Cross and Dragon, by George R.R. Martin
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (pdf), by Harlan Ellison
The Things, by Peter Watts
The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window, by Rachel Swirsky
Non-Zero Probabilities, by N.K. Jemisin
Wolf's Heart, by Tappan King
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
The Cage, by A.M. Dellamonica
The Fermi Paradox is Our Business Model, by Charlie Jane Anders
Godmother Death, by Jane Yolen
Miss Carstairs and the Merman, by Delia Sherman
A Buyer's Guide to Maps of Antarctica, by Catherynne M. Valente
Two Hearts, by Peter S. Beagle
Ponies, by Kij Johnson
Les Fleurs Empoisonnées, by Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
They're Made Out of Meat, by Terry Bisson
Light on the Water, by Genevieve Valentine
The Kinght of Chains, the Deuce of Stars, by Yoon Ha Lee
The Last Question, by Isaac Asimov
A Study in Emerald (pdf), by Neil Gaiman
The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allan Poe
Bloodchild, by Octavia E. Butler
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela, by Saladin Ahmed
The Paper Menagerie , by Ken Liu
On the Blindside, by Sonya Taaffe
Let Maps to Others, by K.J. Parker
The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland--For a Little While, by Catherynne M. Valente
A Haunted House, by Virginia Woolf
The Dala Horse, by Michael Swanwick
The Dog King, by Holly Black
The Statement of Randolph Carter, by H.P. Lovecraft *

As a bonus, five honorary mentions for stories I really like but I couldn't find places to read them online that seemed entirely legal, so you'll either have to google them for yourselves or pay for them. The links go to Amazon's page for anthologies that include the stories.

The Wife's Story, by Ursula K. LeGuin
Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes **
Details, by China Miéville
Farmer Giles of Ham, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Witcher, by Andrzej Sapkowski

* Undoubtedly his best work currently in public domain. "Shadow over Innsmouth" is my favourite story by him, but you can either wait 15 years for that to enter the public domain or buy one of the numerous, cheap anthologies of his work.
** This anthology also includes 'Mimsy Were the Borogroves' by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, another favourite of mine.


I'm pretty amazed "–All You Zombies–" is available for free… even if it is an .edu site which got the rights to post it.

The posted version suffers slightly from being "formatted for internet"–my sardonic and not-at-all subtly sarcastic term for copying and pasting without doing any actual formatting whatsoever, nor paying attention to what might be lost as it gets taken from its native format to your site's default one. Such as italics. So there are a couple points where emphatics are lost. Not enough to justify not reading, however. And this is one of the best SF stories of all time, so if you haven't read it yet, and can do it for free.…

Lot of other good stuff on that list, too. Nicely done. :)
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Universities seem to be particularly bad about maintaining the quality of the original text when they upload it. I must say that the .edu site that had I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is quite inferior to this gorgeously formatted version I found from some dubious Ukrainian website.


Thanks for the list, I look forward to checking those out!

Also, Farmer Giles of Ham is one of my favorites.