On the subject of online fiction, we welcome Jenny Barber.
Waxing Lyrical: Online Fiction by Jenny Barber
So there I was, not at Worldcon and living vicariously through everyone’s tweets, when reports of the short fiction panel started popping up. Specifically, the view that print magazines were going to die and hopefully online providers would start selling short fiction.
Start selling? Start…? (Looks at calendar. Sees that it is, in fact, still 2017. Shakes head.) If I had been drinking tea, it would have sprayed all over the screen.
I don’t remember exactly when I discovered that online magazines existed (I started slushing for the late Fantasy Magazine [http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/] around 2009-ish so it was probably a couple of years before that), but I do remember the rampant glee at finding so much quality short fiction available for free. Free was important back then as I couldn’t afford print subscriptions to the magazines I knew about, but still had a short fiction addiction that needed feeding.
What really cinched my newfound love for online fiction was the sheer range of stories available. I’d spent a good decade or so reviewing predominantly UK horror ‘zines for the British Fantasy Society and while I do enjoy a good horror story, online fiction opened the SFF world up much wider. New authors, new styles, stories from all over the world and all a mouse click away! Amazing!
Since then, the online markets have expanded: bigger, better, and more beautiful, there are more magazines, more diversity, more ways to support the publications and more ways to read (and listen) to their fiction.
Online fiction and their venues regularly win Hugos, Nebulas, British Fantasy Awards, British Science Fiction Awards, World Fantasy Awards, Locus Awards, Aurealis Awards, Shirley Jackson Awards, Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards & Parsec Awards (to name but a few!) so you can be sure of the highest quality fiction for the low, low price of (mostly) free!
But if you have the spare cash, you can get handy subscriptions (with bonus and/or advanced content) or single issues of titles delivered in the ebook format of your choice – available either directly through the magazines own sites; or from digital stores like Weightless Books [https://weightlessbooks.com/], Smashwords [https://www.smashwords.com] or Amazon. Those that don’t have subscription options usually have ways to donate via paypal or funding sites, so watch out for the publisher patreons and kickstarters to show your love and pick up some fantastic fiction to boot.
But where can you find some of this award-worthy, affordable, accessible fiction?
::Link-fest mode engaged, Cap’n!::
Strange Horizons [http://www.strangehorizons.com/] is one of my firm favourites and Beneath Ceaseless Skies [http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/] is another top one. Uncanny Magazine [http://uncannymagazine.com/] is not to be missed and if you want some Chinese translation (and other) SFF head over to Clarkesworld [http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/].
Lightspeed [http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/] publish some awesome fantasy and science fiction, and their sister magazine Nightmare [http://nightmare-magazine.com] is perfect for the horror aficionados, with more horror shorts found at The Dark. [http://thedarkmagazine.com]
But also! Have a look at Apex Magazine [http://www.apex-magazine.com/], Shimmer [https://www.shimmerzine.com/], Holdfast [http://www.holdfastmagazine.com/], Abyss & Apex [http://www.abyssapexzine.com/], Heroic Fantasy Quarterly [http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/], Fireside Fiction [http://firesidefiction.com/], Kaleidotrope [http://www.kaleidotrope.net/], and Tor.Com [http://www.tor.com]
If you like longer fiction, then may I point you at GigaNotoSaurus [http://giganotosaurus.org/] for all your novella pleasures. If you prefer flash, then Daily Science Fiction [http://dailysciencefiction.com/] will give you flash fiction five days a week (and free subscription if you want the stories delivered via email.)
Don’t want to sit staring at a screen? No problem! Many magazines do audio versions of their stories, and if you really want a treat, go check out some of the excellent dedicated podcast magazines. The Escape Artists clutch of ‘casts are highly recommended and cover a broad range of genre in Escape Pod [http://escapepod.org/], Pseudopod [http://pseudopod.org/], PodCastle [http://podcastle.org/] and Cast of Wonders [http://www.castofwonders.org/]. Also check out StarShipSofa [http://www.starshipsofa.com/], Toasted Cake [http://toastedcake.com/] and The Drabble Cast [http://www.drabblecast.org/] for more audio goodness.
So whatever the current state of print magazines may be, online short fiction is ready and waiting to welcome you into its digital folds!