From short stories by amateurs to award-winning literature by famous writers, you can read stellar science fiction on the internet without paying a dime.
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 fluent detail. From space travel to aliens, science fiction stories provide inspiration and imagination like nothing else. And the best part is that there is a treasure trove of websites to read them.
1. Daily Science Fiction (Web): Large collection of science fiction short stories and series
As the name suggests, Daily Science Fiction publishes a piece of original science fiction literature every weekday. Some are standalone short stories, while others are chapters in a longer series. You can also subscribe to DSF to receive the story by email.
The website has been around for a long time and has therefore built up a healthy bank of sci-fi reading material. The featured story attempts to highlight one of them, but you can also view all recent stories in chronological order. Or you can use the “Carrier” to be directed 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 superheroes. The website also accepts fantasy stories, not just science fiction, so you get those categories as well. Scroll to the end of the categories to find some popular series from a few DSF authors.
As with other such websites, DSF will also accept submissions from new writers. You will find the process for submitting a story on their website.
2. Free SF Online (Web): Read Famous Sci-Fi Authors Online for Free
Science fiction fans know famous authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke or Stephen Baxter. But you probably haven’t heard of Richard Cissée. Still, Cissée is a sci-fi fan’s best friend, given the stellar work on his Free Speculative Fiction Online (FSFO) blog.
Cissée collects links to science fiction and fantasy stories available online for free on the site. He meticulously researches legal and copyright-free content, and has built a repository of carefully tagged stories that feature both famous authors and amateurs. You will find that some of the best sci-fi books for geeks are legally available for free online.
You can search or browse the list of authors to click on a name and see all of their online works that Cissée has found, helpfully organized on one page. In all likelihood, this is the most comprehensive list you will get.
FSFO starts you off with a random story (with descriptions of all the awards it has won or been nominated for). Cissée also includes links to reviews of each story so you don’t think he’s biased or just posting his picks online. Every month a new batch of stories are added to the website. It’s a remarkable effort that any sci-fi fan will enjoy.
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 addictive sci-fi stories. Each story is told in audio per episode, but you can also read the full text of the story if that’s how you prefer.
Every week Escape Pod has a new story written by someone especially for the podcast, regularly giving you original works. The podcast staff includes Hugo and Nebula award nominees, who make sure to maintain a high level of quality. Occasionally, instead of an original story, Escape Pod revisits sci-fi classics from famous authors, taking it to a whole new level with their sonic expertise.
Past episodes are a bit difficult to navigate on the site, but you can use the Escape Pod Wikia for easier navigation. The editors recommend a page for new listeners to get started with some 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.
See the submission guidelines if you want to write for Escape Pod or narrate an episode. Note that writers and narrators are usually two different, specialized roles, so you might not be telling your own story.
4. Uncanny Magazine (Web): Best Online Sci-Fi Magazine
Are you really a sci-fi geek if you don’t read Uncanny Magazine? Over the past five years, it has become arguably the best sci-fi magazine online, winning numerous awards for the stories it publishes. And you can access all of this completely free of charge.
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 online for free, while the second half becomes available the following month. Of course, for a paid subscription, you can read everything as an ebook.
On the website, you can filter fiction by original stories, reprints, poetry, and a section for stories that have won awards or been nominated. Uncanny Magazine has hosted several, written by some of today’s best sci-fi authors, so this section alone is worth your time.
5. 365 Tomorrows (Web): Daily New Sci-Fi News and Flash Fiction
If you love science fiction and find it hard to develop a regular reading habit, 365 Tomorrows might be just what you need. It posts a new story every day, 600 words or less, making it one of the best websites to read flash fiction.
Flash fiction is basically about telling your story in the shortest way possible. Because they’re not series, it’s also easier to start with any story. Due to the low word count, you can expect it to take about two minutes to finish reading a story completely (because the average reading speed is 250-300 words per minute). This low barrier makes it a great way to build a reading habit.
Since its debut in 2005, the website now offers an enviable collection of sci-fi short stories on various topics. Unfortunately, you can only browse the site chronologically or search for keywords in the titles. The lack of categories or tags is a major impediment, and we hope the 365 Tomorrows team will fix it in the near future.
Why read science fiction rather than watch it
Besides the websites in this article, you will find several podcasts and YouTube channels that give you a dose of sci-fi through audio or video. And they are empirically fun. But the best medium of its kind remains the written word.
Reading science fiction is a great way to let your imagination run wild, creating visuals in your head. It is also, by budget, the easiest way for a creative person to express their thoughts in the world. And books and stories are often more detailed about the underlying science than what you find in movies or TV shows.
The best sci-fi shorts to watch online
About the Author