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?”
“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.
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?