Freebie ~ Free Fiction
For a Halloween TTT freebie, Lydia did a TTT post with free stories you could read online, and that amused me. Doing free stories for a TTT freebie? It made me smile, so I decided to save the idea and borrow it myself for a future TTT freebie.
That freebie is today!
I’ve been reading a lot more short fiction lately since I’ve been trying to read more Hugo- and Nebula-Award-Winning stories. A lot of the winning short fiction can be found free online, and some of these stories are award winners. (I’ll try to make a note of those that are.) Not all of them won awards, however. Some are stories that I just liked.
1. “Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu ~ read online here
won the Hugo Award in 2013
I really, really enjoyed this story. It’s a neat blend of sci-fi and character development, of dystopian and hope. It’s not easy to explain, but it’s fast and easy to read. All the stories on this list are good, but this one is quite possibly my favorite of them.
2. “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse ~ read online here
won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2018
So good. I can’t say much about this without lessening the impact of the story itself. However, it’s really well written, and it has some fun near-future AR tech in it. It’s also one of the best examples I’ve seen of successful second-person POV narration.
3. “Compulsory” by Martha Wells ~ read online here
MURDERBOT!!! I don’t really need to say more than that, at least not for my fellow Murderbot fans. For those of you who aren’t yet Murderbot fans, what are you waiting for? I do recommend reading All Systems Red before reading this short story, just because that novella is such a perfect introduction to Murderbot. However, you could probably read this short story first if you really wanted to.
4. “Seasons of Glass and Iron” by Amal El-Mohtar ~ read online here
won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2017
Really neat fairy tale re-telling mash-up that uses lesser-known tales instead of the common ones. I enjoyed reading this, in no small part because I was trying to figure out where I recognized the fairy tales from.
5. “Dust to Dust” by Mary Robinette Kowal ~ read online here
This one is very short, but packed full of content and even has its share of twists. I can’t say anything about it really without giving things away, but you should read it.
6. “Maneki Neko” by Bruce Sterling ~ read online here
This one was just a fun story. I actually found it because it’s mentioned in “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer, and I got curious so I looked this one up. Maneki Neko is the Japanese name for the good luck cat you see in a lot of Asian shops and restaurants. And in this story, it’s also the symbol used by a net-based “random acts of kindness” network.
7. “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer ~ read online here
won the Hugo Award in 2016
I JUST FOUND “CAT PICTURES PLEASE” ONLINE TOO! I really enjoyed this one (I read it in a compilation book initially, not online). I mean, it’s an AI who wants cat pictures. So fun, and it has a more hopeful note than a lot of AI stories do, which I really appreciate.
8. “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu ~ read online here
won the Hugo Award in 2014
Imagine if every time you told a lie, water fell out of the sky. Light rain for small lies, downpours for big ones. How would that change your family dynamics? I love the way it works in this short story. The focus here is more on the people and less on the mechanics of the water, but in many ways that makes it more enjoyable.
9. “Mika Model ” by Paolo Bacigalupi~ read online here
Another neat AI story, this one about whether or not AIs are sentient. Really fascinating, and full of questions that are really hard to answer. I enjoyed this one, but mostly for the way it made me think.
10. “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu ~ read online here
won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012
Yeah… okay. So maybe I was wrong at the top when I said that “Mono no Aware” was my favorite. Because it’s super hard for any of these stories to have as big an impact as “The Paper Menagerie”. I think it’s no surprise that both stories are written by Ken Liu.
This one is about the son of an immigrant, and how language barriers can hurt relationships. It’s about family. It’s about love. And it makes me cry every time I read it.
So those are some of my favorite short stories that are available to read free online. Do you have favorites that you wish more people had read? Do you even like reading short stories, or do you prefer longer fiction?