Sunday, April 29, 2018

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Stories You Can Read Online for Free

Sigh Fie.

Nora K. Jemison makes me scream.
Sofia Saematar makes me sorry.
Amber Sparks makes me shiver.
Kristine Ong Muslim makes me sort of sick.
Brian Evenson makes me swallow, hard.
Lincoln Michel makes me stare.
Catherynne M. Valenti makes me stretch.
Jeffrey Ford makes me smile.
NNedi Okorafor makes me swear.
Kelly Link makes me sink.

What special effects do these stories have on you? Are they “literary”? Why or why not?


  1. Most of these stories made me think. Not because I thought there were parts that didn't make sense, but because I cared for the characters more than most science fiction stories I've read, which seemed more focused on world building than characters. Specifically with the janitor in space story, these stories felt strong because of how natural the sci-fi elements seemed and how character driven the stories were.

  2. The effects that these stories had on me, are again like Sage's, were to make me think. One of the things that really struck me about a lot of these stories was that they all, in some way, related to something that was greater than the sum of their fiction. "The City Born Great" deals with racism, and entropy in The Enemy. "The Red Thread" has entire screeds on how our current prison system is bad. "The Janitor in Space" forces us to contemplate the nature of human existence, as does "Smear." "Day of the Builders" explicitly references imperialism, and colonialism to an extent that I was half convinced it was 'literary' fiction the entire time. "Dark Air", "Rocket Ship to Hell", and "Strange Horizons" are the closest to just dealing with their subject matters, but I am sure that if probed more deeply, they would reveal something more. "Planet Lion" is about human's relationship with war, exploitation of natural resources, and the unstable nature of war bands. "Spider the Artist" talks, again about exploitation, racism, as well as spousal abuse and the nature of artistry and debates whether we are going too far with automation. It's 'genre' fiction, yes, but it's wielding the genre to let the author explore their messages in a way that they couldn't with traditional 'literary' fiction, rather than simply being the surface story. There's a "second subject", if I may return to non-fiction terminology for a moment, and if there's a second subject, if there's a message, especially as important as the ones in these stories, then yes I would consider them litarary, as much as literary is a value judgment for 'good, meaningful writing' and not, 'something that is not genre fiction, because genre is inherently bad and literary is inherently good.'

  3. These stories made me think a lot about what works in stories and what doesn't, and why sci-fi stories are so frowned upon in the literary community. Honestly, I feel like sci-fi can definitely be literary fiction, but I don't think these stories are literary fiction. It's hard to explain why thoroughly without delving into a really complicated argument of genre and literary bias, but either there weren't enough elements to draw me in and hold me there, I had more questions than answers, or the language wasn't strong enough to pull me in and grab me. It's hard, because I really do like sci-fi, but not ALL sci-fi, and not always things that would be stereotypically considered sci-fi. I think a lot of what I like is more so dystopian or space related. For example, I really enjoy both "The Martian" and "Artemis" by Andy Weir, though the former could possibly be argued to be literary fiction. Man, genre is complicated and I want to burn all labels to the ground because now my head hurts.

  4. I haven't read much sci-fi other than from what I've skimmed from the shelves of Barnes & Nobles. I enjoyed "The Red Thread" more than it irritated me. The character of Fox just seemed so interesting, but I felt disappointed like I missed something with him. "The City Born Great" was clever and handled the topic of racism in a unique way. The narrator was relatable, where I laughed from their comments at seeing the harbinger creature. I agree, these stories definitely made me think after I was done.

    I did feel these stories missed something, although I'm not sure what. But I'm hesitant to say these aren't literary fiction. I can't give a good reason why, but I something was lacking in the stories.

  5. The idea of separating these stories, in fact, any story, between literary and not, makes me feel strange. How does one define literary? Is it in the canon that we’ve discussed throughout the semester, which was mostly created by educated white men? Is it based on how many awards the story has won? In my opinion, stories become literary based on the effect they have on readers, therefore if a story effects even one reader, it is literary. These stories did a great job opening my eyes to the idea of science fiction as it’s not usually a genre that I write or read. It helped expand my idea of the genre as a whole, and worked to destroy the stereotypes I had made about it through my own experiences.

  6. Literature is a social construct and so is genre. As a literature major, I can say the concept of Literature is stupid. Literature in itself is a genre. Also, why do we have to look towards the institution to figure out what "good literature" is? Our modern concepts of "good literature" all stems from this idea to be superior to other people and to categorize life. While I do love categories as a way of organization, each category should be equal to the next instead of placing a hierarchy. If what we read for today doesn't say that genre fiction isn't good, that it doesn't convey feeling or anything else that "traditional literature" does, then I don't want to be a part of that narrative (does that sentence make sense?). Everyone knocks down genre fiction for being formulaic, but so does literary fiction! It has a formula of: realism+ everyday life+ minimalism+ probably a small town+ extraness= literary fiction. To categorize "literary" fiction over genre fiction is honestly so stupid. The institutions that hail certain types of fiction over other types of fiction or just writing and art in general is just really stupid to do. There are so many experiences in the world and there are so many different types of writers, why force hem to write the same thing? If the problem is the formulaicness of genre, then teach how to subvert the tropes, teach how to write character driven genre stories. Or, you know, just let people write the formulaic genre without the repercussions of being told that their writing is not real writing. Just let people do their thing, if they want to write "literary", if they want to write genre, if they want to write shitty fanfic, let them write! Do not discourage a genre, instead raise it up to be better, raise it up to be the best it can be without belittling it.

  7. Rocket Ship to hell is so cool. So it starts you out thinking you're in for real crazy ride, like the title suggests, and even the reserved genial tone of the narrator makes me think things are about to happen. But then it takes a good half hour of reading for things to really get intense. Then without warning, you aren't sure if they ever were exciting at all. The ending manages to fill me up long after I'm done reading it.