Friday Free Fiction for 18th April

Here we go again with your weekly round-up of free fiction on the web …



  • Space Platform” by Murray Leinster (“When young Joe Kenmore came to Bootstrap to install pilot gyros in the Platform he hadn’t bargained for sabotage or murder or love. But Joe learned that ruthless agents were determined to wreck the project. He found that the beautiful girl he loved, and men like The Chief, a rugged Indian steelworker, and Mike, a midget who made up for his size by brains, would have to fight with their bare hands to make man’s age old dream of space travel come true!” Can you fight political disinterest with your bare hands, then?)
  • The Penal Cluster” by Gordon Randall Garrett (“Tomorrow’s technocracy will produce more and more things for better living. It will produce other things, also; among them, criminals too despicable to live on this earth. Too abominable to breathe our free air.” O NOES!)
  • The Planet Strappers” by Raymond Z Gallun (“The Planet Strappers started out as The Bunch, a group of student-astronauts in the back room of a store in Jarviston, Minnesota. They wanted off Earth, and they begged, borrowed and built what they needed to make it. They got what they wanted – a start on the road to the stars – but no one brought up on Earth could have imagined what was waiting for them Out There!” No kidding, they have Starbucks here too?)
  • Trouble on Titan” by Arthur K Barnes (“When the Queen of the Spaceways meets the King of the Interplanetary Wilds, there’s a checkmate in the stalking of Saturn’s most dangerous game!”)
  • The Delegate From Venus” by Henry Slesar (“Everybody was waiting to see what the delegate from Venus looked like. And all they got for their patience was the biggest surprise since David clobbered Goliath.”)
  • No Moving Parts” by Murray F Yaco


News from Small Beer Press:

“To celebrate the publication of his first new collection of short stories in ten years, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, John Kessel and Small Beer Press have made it available as a free download in various completely open formats with no Digital Rights Management (DRM) strings attached. An astonishing, long-awaited collection of stories that intersect imaginatively with Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, and Flannery O’Connor. Includes John Kessel’s modern classic “Lunar Quartet” sequence about life on the moon.”

Sounds good to me.


Two updates from John Joseph Adams from beneath his F&SF hat. Firstly there’s news about Daryl Gregory:

“Daryl’s website features a number of pieces of free fiction, including several F&SF stories – such as his first pro sale, “In the Wheels,” “The Continuing Adventures of Rocket Boy,” and “Free, and Clear.””

And then some news about Peter Beagle:

Peter S. Beagle is the author of many novels and stories, including the beloved classic The Last Unicorn. In 2005, F&SF published Beagle’s Nebula Award-winning sequel to The Last Unicorn, the novelette “Two Hearts”.”

I adored the movie of The Last Unicorn as a child (I can still get surprisingly emotional over it now), and I was gutted when I found out how badly shafted Beagle was on the deal. Go read his story.


The gang at Subterranean Press are churning out the Spring 2008 issue of Subterranean Online. Available so far:


An email arrived from Nathan Lilly:

“Just a brief note to announce‘s first full year of publication. The new year brings:

  • a creative refresh of the home page
  • the launch of our blog, The Sideshow
  • the creation of a (nearly) complete Space Western list.

All that in addition to the publication of Space Western stories and articles. This week we’ve [re-]published “Craphound” by Cory Doctorow, and part 1 of an eight-part serial titled “A Man Called Mister Brown” by A.R. Yngve. Next week we have an interview with David Weddle, screenwriter for Battlestar Galactica.”

Sounds like it’s all go over there – good luck, Nathan!


The still-websiteless-but-eternally-diligent-and-superbly-monickered Cole Kitchen continues to keep us abreast of webzine developments:

  • [link expunged]
  • Abyss & Apex has done the same with their twenty-fifth issue.

Also a couple of new titles (now added to the Sidebar Of Justice)

  • RevolutionSF (tag-lined “Tough Love for Sci-Fi” … there’s no tougher love than that horrible contraction, surely? 😉 )
  • Bewildering Stories (which, once you get past the bewildering pre-millennial web-design, appears to have a great deal of content stored away)

Cheers, Cole!


Shadow Unit is up to episode 5 with “Ballistic“, a team effort from Sarah Monette, Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear & Amanda Downum.

“You aren’t supposed to be in Grandma’s room when she isn’t there. It’s dark inside, the heavy curtains drawn tight, and the air smells of camphor and lavender potpourri and furniture polish. Your stomach feels too small as you peer through the cracked-open door, like it did when Tommy Wilson dared you to crawl into that abandoned woodshed all full of spiders. Making Grandma mad scares you more than spiders, but this morning she went to the store and left you alone watching cartoons and eating Cocoa Puffs.”


Jayme Lynn Blaschke has the tenth instalment of the irregular yet intriguing “Memory”.

“Chaos erupted among the moironteau. The predatory discipline organizing the creatures broke down in the face of thirty quarry. Moironteau lunged and slashed, footheads choming wildly at the darting green Parrics flying to and fro. Those hanging above dropped into the fray, the lure of the chase too tempting to resist. The carefully-constructed trap collapsed into itself.

“Stupiding otherwhereians,” muttered Parric from his coiled position in the middle of it all. “All muscle, no finessing.””


Sir John of Scalzi is getting all DOS-prompt-retro on us by going the shareware route with a piece of fiction:

“Starting right this very second, a (zipped) pdf version of “How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story” is available for you to read and enjoy. I’m offering it as shareware – that is, it’s free to read, but if you like it, you’re encouraged to send a little money my way. How much? Up to you (but, you know. Not too much. It’s a short story, not a novel).”


Via SFCanada, we hear that Nina Munteanu has posted her short story “A Butterfly in Peking” online.


Jay Lake dips into his seemingly bottomless pit of previously published short fiction once again:

“The current installment in this series is my short story “Small Magic“. At 5,600 words, this originally appeared in Weird Tales #340 (May/June 2006). It has never been reprinted elsewhere. If you like the story, please consider supporting Weird Tales. Trivium: the initial inspiration for this story was the Sting song “All This Time”.)”


The Friday Flash Fictioneers are back in action once again – though yours truly is using double shifts at the day-job as his cop-out excuse once again.


A final non-fiction bonus – and if Futurismic has any creationist readers, they may wish to skip ahead right over this one. Via Cosmos Magazine, we hear that the complete collection of Charles Darwin’s papers are online. SRSLY – all of them:

“”This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free,” said John van Wyhe, the director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online project.”



Well, that’s your lot for this week – there should be more than enough there to keep you busy over the weekend, I figure. Don’t forget that we’re always looking for tip-offs and plugs from you, our readers, so just drop us a line via the contact page.

In the meantime – have a great weekend, folks!