Magazine: Daily Science Fiction


I stuff more shotgun shells into my backpack.  A reliable source tells me that where I’m going, there are more trolls than I “can shake a stick at.”  I’d prefer a more quantitative estimate, but that does sound like a lot of trolls.

I have no idea what kills trolls, so I’ve spent weeks hand-loading my own shotgun shells.  Each shell got one lead and one steel pellet — those were easy, because they’re what everyone normally shoots.  An industrial catalog at work gave me tungsten pellets.  I had to mold my own copper, silver, and gold ones.  I picked up glass, wooden, and plastic beads at Hobby Lobby to give me nine pellets per shell.

My wife has her head down, looking at our credit card bill as she enters the room.  “Did you buy–“, she glances at the backpack and shotgun.  “Where are you going?”

“The Internet.”

“OK, when people say they’re going–”

“Don’t try to stop me.  According to the newspaper, there’s a huge troll problem and it’s getting worse every day.  If nobody else will go to the Internet, I will.”

“I just went–”

“I know it’s dangerous.  It will be an arduous journey.  I may not return.”

She holds out her iphone.  “Why don’t you–”

“Away with your witchcraft, woman!”  I pick up my shotgun and backpack, and head out the door.


I wrote the above intro for my magazine quest when I was planning to make separate comparisons of print magazines and websites.  Ultimately, it turned out there was too much overlap, so I’m not making any distinction.

I still think it’s a bit unfair to include Daily Science Fiction in my quest.  First, as a daily publisher, they have to put out over 360 stories per year.  Some of their competitors publish quarterly, with only 3 or 4 stories per issue.  Choosing the best 12-16 stories from a year’s worth of submissions should yield higher average quality.

Second, DSF is handicapped by only accepting stories of 100-1,500 words, leaning towards the shorter end.  Lately, I’ve been wondering whether 1,500-2,000 is the low end of what you need to tell a really good story.

Ultimately, I kept DSF in my quest, because they are one of the few publications that pays “professional rates” to authors, and because the sci-fi mucky-mucks seem to occasionally read it and/or mention it.

I read from their 2016 stories, choosing the last story of each month.  I’ve provided links to each of the stories, so you can check them out for yourself.

Short Stories

Tin and Mercury, Gilt and Glass by Lane Robins.  A story about a married couple with a decent middle/ending, but it took too long getting to the interesting part.  Quite an accomplishment in such a short format.

A Cure Over Coffee by Pontius Paiva.  I don’t want to give away the twist ending of this one, so I’ll just say it’s about some special pills.

You Are Not the Hero of This Story by Caroline Yoachim.  This would make a cool introduction to some other story, but it’s really nothing much by itself.

Out of the Black by KC Myers.  A small amount of family drama mixed with a small amount of talk about hyperspace travel.

Survival of the Fittest by Matthew Bailey.  A slightly different take on the zombie apocalypse.

Created by… by David Wardrop.  An extremely short and pointless story.

Dragonbone by Mari Ness.  A dream-weaver breaks her loom, goes to sleep, and wakes up to find (poof!) all the stuff to fix her loom has appeared.

Careers for Magical Creatures:  Ten Ways to Keep Your Sucky Job as Tooth Fairy by Sarina Dorie.  An employment guide for tooth fairies.

All Those Parties We Didn’t Cry At by Natalia Theodoridou.  In the future, people can’t cry.  Hmm, my summary makes a decent six-word story.  It’s a better story than the one I read.

Sympathies by Kat Otis.  A renaissance-era doctor tries to cure a plague victim.

Perils in Promotion by Jez Patterson.  A whiny piece about a space navy that discriminates against women when making promotions.

Borscht by Anatoly Belilovsky.  A married couple eats dinner.  No SFF anywhere to be seen, unless you consider borscht fictional.  Have you ever actually seen borscht?


  1. I’m a bit torn about DSF. Sometimes I love the stories they publish and sometimes I’m totally ‘meh’ about them. Nevertheless, I think they really aim for outstanding quality in their stories (after all they pay pro rates) and I’ve already got a handful of rejections from them. Meh.

    Btw, I once read a recipe for bortsch but my Russian teacher dismissed it because of the creative list of ingredients. Might be a fictional thing after all …

    1. I’ve read a small handful of stories there that I liked, and many more “meh”. I should probably read more of their stories, or another similar website, since it’s something I could do during downtime at work.

      I think we might be onto something with the Borscht.

  2. Have you ever seen me and borstsch in the same room? Love your intro story. Don’t forget some rock salt, magical creatures hate it.

    1. Are you saying that you take off your fake beard and glasses, and become the crime-fighting superhero Comrade Borscht?

      Yeah, I forgot the rock salt, probably the reason there are still so many trolls.

      1. Just making you think about it. Not confessing to anything.

  3. “No SFF anywhere to be seen, unless you consider borscht fictional.  Have you ever actually seen borscht?” I’ve seen photographs of borscht. Does that count?

    Maybe those who write (or who like reading) SFF with literally no SFF elements think it’s “edgy” or something: “See? MY sci-fi is the most unique because MY sci-fi isn’t sci-fi!” rolls eyes

    1. Photos are no good. Too easy to fake with image-editing software.

      I never considered those authors thinking they were edgy. I always thought they wrote some “literary” piece, but couldn’t find a paying market, so just threw it at some sci-fi editors, who then for some reason accept that stuff.

  4. I have a Russian coworker who sometimes brings borscht in his lunch. It makes the break room smell like beets and sour cream for days afterwards.

    1. So, we finally have a documented sighting.

  5. I’ve read a few stories on DSF that I’ve liked, but they put out a lot of stuff that I don’t care for. The editors there seem to have a very specific idea of what they like. I’ve had a few pieces rejected by them which were better written, at least technically, than a lot of what they publish. I think some of them may have just been too conventional. I’m not sure when conventional became such a bad word. But every once and a while, something on DSF will surprise me. It is hard to beat getting free SF/F stories in your inbox every day.

    1. With a daily schedule, maybe the editors don’t get together and run things by each other. So, maybe a story of yours which got rejected one day would have been accepted the day before or the day after if a different editor had picked it up.

      I just read today’s story, “Inevitable”, and it’s pretty good.

  6. J. D. Brink · · Reply

    I read a really nice superhero speedster story on DSF years ago, back when they used to run long stories on Fridays. Now with the super-short stuff…
    I wish I could write some that short. Maybe I should try.
    I definitely think you should try running your intro stories thru them before publishing them on here. You could get a few (or more) picked up!

    1. I’m sure you could write something good of that length if you tried. Maybe if you have an idea that you don’t feel like expanding into a full-length story… I’m not sure how big their readership is, but maybe you’d pick up some new readers.

      I think most of my intro stories are too silly to publish anywhere but on my blog, but I do have one that I decided to throw at a few places after lengthening it, so maybe I’ll shorten it again and try sending it to DSF one day.

  7. Oh hey, I actually read this one! I have to admit DSF can be a little hit or miss, but the stories are so short I don’t get too upset over the misses, and every once in a while they do pick a real gem.

    1. Yes, the short length keeps the experience from being too awful, even when the story stinks. A 1,000 word go-nowhere is a lot easier to stomach than a 16,000 word one.

      And, like I said, a daily schedule is extremely ambitious. Impossible to get a hit every time with such a high volume.

  8. […] that were intentionally non-SFF, and stories where I couldn’t spot any SFF element (like a story about a married couple eating borsch), but which claimed to be magical realism or slipstream or […]

  9. […] more bang for their buck.  The magazines contributing to this cluster:  Analog, Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and Worlds Without […]

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