From short stories by amateurs to award-winning literature by famous writers, you can read some stellar science fiction on the internet without paying a cent.
We all want to know what tomorrow holds, and how technology will change our future. Some of us can imagine it better than others and write about it in fluid detail. From space travel to aliens, science fiction stories provide inspiration and imagination like nothing else. And the best part is, there is a treasure trove of websites to read them.
1. Daily Science Fiction (Web): Large Collection of Sci-Fi Short Stories and Series
As the name suggests, Daily Science Fiction publishes one piece of original sci-fi literature every weekday. Some are self-contained short stories, while some are chapters in a more extended series. You can also subscribe to DSF to get the story emailed to you.
The website has been around for a long time and thus has built up a healthy bank of sci-fi reading material. The Featured Story tries to spotlight one of these, but you can also look at all recent stories chronologically. Or you can use the “Transporter” to be taken to a random story (but we suggest filtering by top-rated stories only if you’re new to the site).
DSF also sorts stories by categories such as aliens, biotech, clones, future societies, space travel, robots, time travel, virtual reality, and superhero. The website also accepts fantasy stories, not just science fiction, so you get those categories too. Scroll to the end of the categories to find a few popular series by a few DSF authors.
As with other such websites, DSF will also take submissions by new writers. You’ll find the process to submit a story on their website.
2. Free SF Online (Web): Read Famous Sci-Fi Authors Online for Free
Science fiction fans are familiar with famous authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, or Stephen Baxter. But you probably haven’t heard of Richard Cissée. Yet, Cissée is a sci-fi fan’s best friend, given the stellar work on his blog Free Speculative Fiction Online (FSFO).
Cissée collects links to science fiction and fantasy stories available online for free on the website. He meticulously seeks out legal and copyright-free content, and has built a directory of carefully labelled stories that feature both famous authors and amateurs. You’ll find that some of the best science fiction books for geeks are legally available for free online.
You can search for or browse the author list to click a name and see all their online works that Cissée has found, helpfully curated in one page. In all likelihood, this is the most exhaustive list you’ll get.
FSFO starts you with a random story (with descriptions of any awards it won or was nominated for). Cissée also includes links to reviews of each story so that you don’t think he’s being biased or putting only his picks online. Every month, a fresh batch of stories is added to the website. It’s a remarkable effort that will please any sci-fi fan.
3. Escape Pod (Web): Best Sci-Fi Podcast With Original and Classic Stories
Founded in 2005, Escape Pod is one of the longest-running storytelling podcasts with addicting stories of science fiction. Each story is narrated as audio per episode, but you can also read the full text of the story if that’s how you prefer it.
Each week, Escape Pod has a new story written by someone, especially for the podcast, giving you original works regularly. The podcast staff includes Hugo and Nebula award nominees, who ensure they maintain a high level of quality. Once in a while, instead of an original story, Escape Pod revisits sci-fi classics by famous authors, giving it a whole new dimension with their expertise in sound.
Past episodes are a little challenging to navigate on the site, but you can use the Escape Pod Wikia for easier browsing. The editors recommend a page for new listeners to start with a few of their best episodes. You can also revisit their most popular stories through the Flashback Friday series. The podcast is free, with no payment tiers to unlock full episodes.
Check the submissions guidelines if you’re interested in writing for Escape Pod or narrating an episode. Note that writers and narrators are usually two different, specialized roles, so you might not be narrating your own story.
4. Uncanny Magazine (Web): Best Online Science Fiction Magazine
Are you really a sci-fi geek if you don’t read Uncanny Magazine? Over the past five years, this has become arguably the best online science fiction magazine, winning multiple awards for the stories it publishes. And you can access all of it completely free.
Each monthly issue of Uncanny contains original short stories, reprinted stories, poems, non-fiction essays, and interviews, all about science fiction and fantasy. The first half of the issue is immediately available to read online for free, while the second half becomes available the following month. Of course, for a paid subscription, you can read it all as an ebook.
On the website, you can filter the fiction by original stories, reprints, poetry, and a section for stories that won awards or were nominated. Uncanny Magazine has hosted many of these, written by some of the best current sci-fi authors, so this section alone is worth your time.
5. 365 Tomorrows (Web): Daily New Sci-Fi Short Stories and Flash Fiction
If you enjoy science fiction and have struggled to build a regular reading habit, 365 Tomorrows might be just what you need. It publishes one new story every day, of 600 words or less, making it one of the best websites to read flash fiction.
Flash fiction is essentially about telling your story in the briefest way possible. Because these are not series, it’s also easier to start with any story. Because of the low word count, you can expect it to take about two minutes to finish reading any story fully (as the average reading speed is 250-300 words per minute). This low barrier makes it a great way to build a reading habit.
With a start in 2005, the website now has an enviable collection of science fiction short stories on various topics. Unfortunately, you can only browse the site chronologically or search for keywords in headlines. The lack of categories or tags is a major hindrance, and one we hope the team at 365 Tomorrows fixes in the near future.
Why Read Science Fiction Than Watch It
Along with the websites in this article, you will find several podcasts and YouTube channels that give you a dose of science fiction through audio or video. And they’re empirically fun. But the genre’s best medium is still the written word.
Reading science fiction is an excellent way to let your imagination run wild, making up visuals in your head. It is also, by budget, the easiest way for a creative person to put their thoughts out into the world. And books and stories are also often more detailed about the underlying science than what you find in movies or TV series.
The Best Sci-Fi Short Films to Watch Online
About The Author