Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! Sometimes we all need palate cleansers whenever our reading mojo is sputtering out. Graphic novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories have always been my dear friend during these dark times. On top of that, short stories are a a great introduction of authors’ writing style so readers can gauge early on if they would venture on the full length novels from authors.
Here’s a quick refresher on the differences of a novel from a novella and so on and so forth!
I’ll be recommending to you my favorite and soon to be read short stories and where you can freely access them. Yes, you heard that right. Free stories!
tor original short stories
Tor Books is a well known and well loved publishing imprint for science fiction and fantasy. Tor.com on the other hand provides an online platform for emerging writers of the genre and all of its short stories are DRM-free. Every year, they publish a roster of original short stories that you can access!
I’ve only known about this in 2018, and it’s my crutch whenever I don’t feel like reading full length novels. Here are some of the gems that I have found in their website! Just click the titles below and you’ll be redirected to their page.
This is my first space opera read and I have been on a Sanderson readathon when I picked this up. Firtsborn follows Dennison Crestmar, younger brother of the great Varion Crestmar who had singlehandedly defeated rebellious fleets in the Reunification War at such a young age. This whole book skirts through Dennison’s little nook as he cowers brother’s shadow.
“Varion was perfect. And Dennison was perfectly incompetent”
For such a short story, this packed a lot of punches when it comes to the magic system and world building. This is actually the first story I’ve read from Hurley and still stays as my favorite! This tells the story of body-mercs (mercenaries) that jumps from one corpse to another with a twist of fate as they jumped into a corpse with a problematic past.
“Bodies are only beautiful when they aren’t yours.”
Makino’s mother taught her caution, showed her how to carve her name into cucumbers, and insisted that she never let a kappa touch her. But when she grows up and her husband Tetsuya falls deathly ill, a kappa that claims to know her comes calling with a barbed promise. I only recently saw this one and I’m extremely excited since its written by a Filipino author!
This is a grim retelling of Hansel and Gretel’s tale and I utterly loved it especially with that twist that I didn’t see coming. I have this phase where I gorged up Bardugo’s short stories after reading the Six of Crows duology. This was really exhilarating to read and I even forced my non-reader friends to give this a chance. And yes, they also loved it!
“Dark things have a way of slipping in through narrow spaces.”
This is a steampunk fantasy story that delves on the inspection of a djinn’s death spearheaded by Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi. She then finds rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and plot that could unravel time itself. Another gem I haven’t read yet and this was actually a Locus Awardee in 2017.
This short story is a delightful read with its delectable and evocative writing style. The Traitor King holds a special banquet in the palace where he showcases the Temporal Confections geniously crafted by the pastry chef Danny. What sets his decadent pastries on the pedestal is that each evokes a specific kind of memory for the taster.
Saffron, the wife of Danny and the designated pastry taster savors these masterpieces from Rosemary Crostini of Delightfully Misspent Youth, Fennel Flatbread of Sunlit Days Gone By, Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost, and many more before it reaches the King and his guests. This tale leads us to a series of memories carefully crafted to give us that ending. This was a light read and very satisfying.
Here are also links to the yearly novellas, novellettes, and short stories from Tor!
SHORT STORY PROJECT
This website compiles a lot of short stories–mostly classic ones but the main thing I loved about this is it doesn’t only limit to American literature. The stories are categorized by genre and the group it represents like female authors, German literature, Russian classics, etc. There isn’t much about Asian authors though but Short Story Project is still a treasure trove for readers out there!
Since Short Story Project lacks Asian literature I searched for one platform that highlights them and then I found Banana Writers. I’ll be going on a limb that this website does not only reference bananas but also one of my favorite Japanese contemporary writer, Banana Yoshimoto!
This website not only caters to short stories but also poetry and even has interviews from other Asian authors! The only thing that I have qualms for this is that it only showcases East and South East Asian stories. I have yet to find other websites for South Asian rep though!
BEST PHILIPPINE SHORT STORIES
Of course this list won’t be complete without Filipino short stories. I only know this website because we have required readings for Philippine literature and most of these titles are actually out of print already! This was really a helpful website for me when I was still in college and on top of that, it’s also pretty entertaining.
THE NEW YORKER FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES
Last but definitely not the least is The New Yorker. I actually read most of Shirley Jackson’s short stories here for free! There’s also a lot of pieces from Haruki Murakami, Virginia Woolf, etc. However, the only drawback here is that you only get to access five stories and you really have to subscribe in order to continue reading them.
I hope this list is helpful for you whenever you feel like your reading mojo needs some lifting up! Short stories are always great for both readers and non-readers alike because of its digestible format. This is probably why I think these are extremely difficult to write contrary to popular opinion, because the author really has to condense a lot of elements here.