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In a recent interview for the MetaStellar YouTube channel, best-selling science fiction author Steven Barnes said that the secret to a successful writing career is to start out by writing short stories — and that you should be reading ten times as many stories as you write.
That can add up pretty quickly. And if you’re a starving writer, you might not have all that much money to spend.
If you’re in that position — or if you just like reading free short stories — then check out your local library, or its e-book app, such as Overdrive.
Or pick up one of these books right now from Amazon:
Tales from Thac edited by Sandra Nguyen
This book is normally $13, so this grab a copy while the promotion lasts.
From the book description:
Dragons, pirates, magic and deceit. Thac is no place for the faint of heart…
Grand Choosing: Kortiama longs to prove herself at the Day of Choosing. Yet that day will hold more for her than she ever bargained for, if she manages to survive.
Price of Honor: Seishin never expected to fall in love, nor that his love would hold a dark secret. The Pirate Coast is a dangerous place, one which might hold the key to his future, if it doesn’t kill him first.
Art of the Steal: Where did the enigmatic Donatello come from? Where did he learn to be a thief, artist, and swordsman? Who is the mysterious woman who broke his heart?
Fortune Tellers: Fran was not always blind, nor was she always a druid. It all came down to a fateful day and a run in with a certain blonde-haired, violet-eyed fortune teller.
Battle of Fish Eye Cove: Outnumbered two to one, Ves and Ruka engage in a desperate battle with a flight of evil dragons. Can the two dragon girls escape their deadly fate?
These and other thrilling tales are included here in this fantastic anthology from the world of Thac.
This collection of sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk and horror includes stories by C.G. Hatton, A.L. Buxton, Craig Hallam, Mark Hayes, Kate Baucherel, Peter James Martin, Graeme Wilkinson, Amy Wilson, J.L. Walton, and Joseph Carrab.
There are eight books total in the Harvey Duckman Presents series. The rest cost money, but all except the fifth one are in Kindle Unlimited, so check them out.
The first story is about a video game reviewer, testing out a game similar to The Sims, when one of the AI-powered characters in the game asks for help.
Nice writing style, quick read, and reminded me of the movie Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds, which I just saw.
I loved it! Both the movie, and the short story.
Collected Science Fiction Short Stories: Volume One by Raymond S Flex
This is the first in a series of six books, Collected Science Fiction Short Stories, but only the first is free.
This collection of stories includes aliens; more than one parallel world; a manic, entertainment-driven civilization, and an automated hotel with a life-changing secret.
It’s one of the 20 best-selling books in the free science fiction anthology category bestseller list on Amazon.
The writing is brisk and pulls you in, though I’m a little confused about what the first story, about a guy checking into a hotel, was actually about.
But the second one starts right in with a space ship exploring the deep recesses of space.
That’s more like it.
The 28th Gate: Volume 1 by Christopher C. Dimond
It starts out great, with a contract bounty hunter with a starship-grade particle cannon that he can carry in one hand. He usually keeps it in a holster, though.
The guy is trying to avoid getting noticed by a mega corporation, taking on freelance hauling jobs on out-of-the-way worlds, when he gets a new job offer, to track down an employee of a smaller local company who’s stolen some proprietary information.
But really, they’re hiring him to track down the thief and kill him.
But the guy has standards. He doesn’t mind finding people. And he doesn’t mind killing people. Just not as part of the same job. But also, he doesn’t like the corporate guys making the job offer.
I like the writing and the characters. It has some strong “Firefly” vibes.
The Scales of the Space Whale: A Short Story by Joe Vasicek
I’m picking them all up while they’re still free.
I like the author’s writing style. It has very much of classic hard sci-fi feel.
The first story was fun — I’m looking forward to reading the others.
That last one is currently the second book in the free science fiction anthology category bestseller list on Amazon and the others are up on the list as well.
This collection includes stories from four award winning authors: Kate Rauner, Alethea Eason, Kris Neri, E J Randolph.
The book is currently in ninth place on the free science fiction anthology category bestseller list on Amazon.
From the book description:
A deadly secret lurks in idyllic fields of flax.
Chatting with the dead, even when you’re a fraud, can’t end well on Friday the 13th.
A blue trunk-nosed alien sniffs out the truth behind a smuggler’s delivery.
Mining Jupiter’s storms leads to an unexpected discovery.
Dystopian Sci Fi Short Stories by Celesta Thiessen
I’m not a fan of dystopian sci-fi, but free is free, right?
So I grabbed my copy before it returns to its regular price.
Here’s a blurb from the book’s official description, about the short story “Fool’s Gold”:
On the planet of Fool’s Gold, where the men greatly outnumber the women, men compete in the games for a chance to win an heir. Trenton, a genetic accident who was supposed to be born female, is excluded from the games and regarded as worthless. But that’s not how Kate sees things. She wants happily ever after with him, no matter what the queen says. With the help of Abigail, Trenton’s sister, and one of the older men in the colony, they plan an escape. When unexpected circumstances arise, will their faith and determination be enough to carry them to freedom?
A few other sci-fi short story collections that are currently free:
- Future City Blues: a tech noir collection by Simon Kewin, Milo James Fowler, and Neil Vogler
- Tordotcom Publishing 2021 Debut Sampler by S. Qiouyi Lu, Lee Mandelo, Freya Marske, Aimee Ogden, Zin E. Rocklyn, Andrew Kelly Stewart, Veronica Schanoes
- Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2016 by Charlie Jane Anders, Nina Allan, Tara Isabella Burton, Monica Byrne, Rebecca Campbell, Aliette de Bodard, P. Djèlí Clark, Indrapramit Das, Alix E. Harrow, N. K. Jemisin, Margaret Killjoy, Cixin Liu, Melissa Marr, David Nickle, Laurie Penny, Daniel Polansky, Lettie Prell, Delia Sherman, Angela Slatter, Caighlan Smith, Lavie Tidhar, Rajnar Vajra, Genevieve Valentine, Carrie Vaughn, Alyssa Wong
- Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2019 Edition
- Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2020 Edition
- Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Tee Morris, Leanna Renee Hieber, Karina Cooper, Deliliah Dawson, Tiffany Trent, Jared Axelrod, Glenn Freund, Peter Woodworth, Lauren Harris
- All These Shiny Worlds: The 2016 ImmerseOrDie Anthology by Jefferson Smith, Richard Levesque, Bryce Anderson, Brett Adams, Christopher Ruz, Dave Higgins, Graham Storrs, J.S. Morin, Van Allen Plexico, Karpov Kinrade, Becca Mills, Belinda Mellor, Burnett Misha, Linton Russ, Richards Regina
- All These Shiny Worlds II: The 2017 ImmerseOrDie Anthology by Jefferson Smith, Bryce Anderson, Richard Levesque, Graham Storrs, Misha Burnett, Meryl Stenhouse, J.S. Morin, I.A. Watson, Dave Higgins, Russ Linton, David Kristoph, Simon Cantan, Christopher Ruz
- Bleakest Towers by Rogue Planet Press
- Haedian Sci-Fi Short Stories: Volume One by Paul Haedo
- Nick Spool: Galactic Private Eye by Clark Graham
- T Is for Time Travel: A collection of timely short stories by Stanlei Bellan
- Science Fiction Short Stories by Celesta Thiessen
- More Deceptive Visions by Daniel McMillan
- Astounding Stories of Super Science, Volume 2: Classic American Sci Fi. February 1930 by Sophie Wenzel Ellis, Harl Vincent, Charles Willard Diffin, Hugh B. Cave, Sterner St. Paul, Victor Rousseau, Anthony Pelcher, Captain S. P. Meek
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Volume 3
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Volume 8: August 1930
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science: Volume 10, October 1930
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science: Volume 11, November 1930
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930: Volume 12
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Volume 14: February 1931
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science Vol. 15: March 1931
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Vol 16: April 1931
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Vol 18: June 1931
- Astounding Stories of Super-Science, Vol. 20: August 1931
- Portals: Volume One by Lyn Brittan and nine more
- Portals: Volume Two by Alison Aimes and 9 more
- Portals: Volume Three by Maeve Alpin and 9 more
- Portals: Volume Four by Liana Brooks and 9 more
- Portals: Volume Five by Eva Caye, Tracy Cooper-Posey, Kyndra Hatch, S.A. Hoag, Felicity Kates, Corrina Lawson, Tess Rider, Veronica Scott, Seven Steps, and Carol Van Natta
- Portals: Volume Six by Jessica E. Subject and 9 more
- Portals: Volume Seven by Kate Corcino and 11 more
- BEYOND: SPACE OPERA: Science Fiction Short Stories
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.