Short Stories: Reasons to read them and places to find them


I’ve been reading quite a bit of short fiction lately –mostly while putting off other Important Things that I should rather be doing– and I was surprised to find out that you can find excellent ones online (and for free).

There are many reasons to read short stories. My top two are a) they are short, and b) they are stories. They also make the deep, dark, scary Internet just a little bit brighter. I mean, you can browse your social media feeds in your free time and be plagued by the horrible feeling of imminent doom. Or you can read and realize that there is still hope. No matter how tiny and crushable it is.

So, I thought I would share some of the places where you can read these stories and escape momentarily from the prison of your existence. Happy reading!

  • The New Yorker’s fiction section is freely accessible and boasts of writings by established and upcoming authors alike. You can read Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Jhumpa Lahiri and many others for the sweet, sweet price of 0€/£/¢.
  • also has a fiction section. A quick scan shows an impressive collection spread over a variety of genres. So much good stuff!
  • For fans of Horror, aka the likes of Stephen King, Bram Stoker, etc., this website links to 18 spooky short stories by various authors: high-quality and free!
  • For Neil Gaiman fans, I’d refer you to his website. I’d also suggest reading his essays/non-fiction pieces because they are so eloquently done. If you want to spend a little bit of money, get yourself a copy of The View from the Cheap Seats because it’s awesome and clearly the best nonfiction I have read. (To be honest, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction so this might be a bit biased.) And while you’re at it, also get a copy of Good Omens. Co-written with Terry Pratchett, it is a hilarious account of the Apocalypse. Not a short-story but still. Okay, I’ll stop with the Gaiman appreciation now.
  • If you’d like a daily dose of science fiction, subscribe to the Daily Science Fiction mailing list. (Shameless self-promo: My story, The Weatherman, was also published in DSF. But don’t judge DSF by this. It has infinitely better stories, I promise!) Some of the recent ones which I really enjoyed include The One Who Chose The Rain by George Edwards Murray and A Villain Considers His Options by James Beamon.

Long story short (pun very much intended) the internet is a crazy, complicated cesspool of things most of the times but it does make for an incredible resource (once you remove your attention from the troll-y, abusive, socially toxic aspects of it). I guess it would be much less of the former if instead of engaging in twitter flame wars we read all of this excellent, freely-available fiction to calm down. So go read. And relax. (Unless you’re reading dystopian fiction. In which case, be terribly afraid. Because of, you know, all the parallels to the real world.)

Okay bye.


Some science-related info: Last week, I wrote about Special Relativity and made a pun. You can read it here. My institute also does a weekly live Q&A on Twitter to answer all of your questions about the universe. You can join in on Wednesdays at 18:00 CET. 

Favorite authors? Short Stories? Books? Food? Comments welcome!


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