Daily Science Fiction’s name is deceiving. They are an online site that send subscribers a daily short in all varieties of science fiction and fantasy. The short stories are held online in an archive and some are also published in their anthologies. When I first came to the North Alabama Writers’ Group, it was one of the first resources suggested to me. As writers we are encouraged to read others in the genre, stay current, but we are also encouraged to submit, submit, submit! Daily Science Fiction can help an ambitious writer with both those goals.
In my year long relationship with Daily Science Fiction, it has turned into one of the white whales of the North Alabama Writers’ Group. In a state of constant call for submission, but no matter how many of us offer dribbles, quite a few hand crafted for the medium, none of us have been accepted. At the same time, we’re reading what feels like a bunch of garbage. We find ourselves saying “I could do better” or “I have written better”, but we must be missing some quality or reoccurring theme.
In an effort to crack the Drabble code, I’m reading all the stories they send me. Instead of bemoaning the terrible, I thought I’d just offer a monthly round up of what was good and why it worked for me. These are ordered how I received them (excluding one I’ll get to).
“A Villian Considers His Options” by James Beamon—It’s funny and it has an almost meta quality. Love his use of an acronym to name his A.I. This is Beamon’s fifth publication to Daily Science Fiction. I was able to find two previous submissions. One, “17 Amazing Plot Elements… When You See #11, You’ll Be Astounded” was terrible. I’ve yet to read a list from Daily Science Fiction I like, so I’m thinking that even though there’s an obvious market for this type of writing, it’s just never going to be to my tastes. The other “Settling Beef” was excellent. Still sharp and funny like “A Villian Consider’s His Options” but also heavy with a relevant message in today’s world. Of the three, it was the most successful store, though I still prefer “A Villian Considers His Options” best because is was the most amusing. All three show a signature humorous voice and style. Two do so in a way I found successful. Beamon has a Goodreads page that shows he contributes to themed story collections and has one stand alone short story published, all showing high Goodreads ratings.
“Emily Post’s Guide to Alien Encounters” by Audrey A. Hollis — excellent story telling. It gave me a complete and deep arc in very few words. I’m delighted one of the authors I like is female and I’m following her on twitter https://twitter.com/audreyrhollis.
“Winged Fold Only” by Mary E. Load—a fun feel good story with a simple moral. Her bio is just as entertaining as her story, and it gives me a new goal of what I want to aspire to in my own bio.
The BEST part about Mary E. Lowd’s work is that she wrote a sequel to “Winged Folk Only” also published this month in Daily Science Fiction called “Go High” —It was also on my list of good reads. I really like Evben and hope to get more 1000 words on her. This sequel was probably middle of the road for me. Still cute and descriptive but with less of an emotional appeal. What I loved what it’s connection to her earlier story.
Mary. E Lowd was published by Daily Science Fiction a total of 4 times this month, and I enjoyed three of her stories and was on the fence about one of them. In the case of her other two, also connected, stories I wasn’t fond of the first “Queen Doripauli and the Sproutlings”. To me it lacked emotional depth and the action seemed to bland. However, I loved the follow up “Waking up in the Genie Shop”. What can I say, I’m a sucker for those sweet little moments in a story, and “Waking up in the Genie Shop” delivers.
Mary Lowd finished my January Daily Science Fiction experiment strong, but delivering one more wonderful story. “Of Starwhals and Spaceships” is a fun short. It has a childlike innocence and a general wonder for the universe. It delivers on at least four complex thoughts, ones that would take me more than 1000 words to explain, which gives the work depth and almost mystic quality.
I found another 6 stories by Mary E Lowd on Daily Science Fiction, and I intend to read all of them. For those curious they are “The Empty Empire,” “One Alien’s Wreckage,” “Crowds on the Crossroad Station,” “Principles Over Profit,” “Inalienable Rights,” and “Cresent Horns and Tall Ears.” I hope to find Evben in one of them and maybe a better backstory for Sloane and the sproutlings that makes me appreciate Queen Doripauli more. Lowd is also a novelist, her books appear quirky, for a younger audience, and animal centric with a scifi twist. Her books don’t seem quite right for me, but they were still neat to look at. Check her page out at Goodreads .
I’ve just finished reading “The book of the Unnamed Midwife” by Meg Elison, so when Daily Science Fiction brought me “The Library is Open” by Beth Cato, I had the opening scenes ready to go. A peaceful bubble in the apocalypse where the normal becomes abnormal. I liked how Cato played with tension. Even in humanity’s darkest hour, her short left the reader feeling hopeful.
I found 6 other works on Daily Science Fiction for Cato. They include: “Bear-Bear Speaks,” “The Quest You Have Chosen Defies Your Fate,” “From the Ashes,” “Hatchlings,” “10 Things Newly Manifested Wizards Should never do” (because everyone needs a list apparently), and “Measures and Counter Measures”. She’s got a way with the titles, that make me very excited to find time to read these. Cato is also a prolific writer with a complete novel series and a new one started. She’s also contributed to many Chicken Soup for the Soul editions. Goodreads shows middle of the road reviews, but based off of her Daily Science Fiction contribution, I’m intrigued to read more. I wish she were on kindle unlimited, but since I’d have to pay extra outside of my current book budget, I’ll just have to wait till I see a sale.
“Maestro” by Neal A. Cline—is an example of a story that just barely makes my list and it’s for purely personal reasons. First, I love tigers, so much that it caused me to do a lot of research on humanity’s relationship with wild animals and the process of domestication. All of which lead me to believe that owning any wild animal in a pet like capacity will lead to tragedy 98% of the time. Second, this story is about a mind link between human and animal, which I’m fascinated by. Third, Cline brings up modern concerns over conservation of species and whether we can think it’s a success if we can only find some species of animal in a zoo (or in this case genetically modified to provide service for people). Since I wanted to write a long opinion piece regarding what true conservation is and the value of a being outside of human use was, I decided to include this story. “Like” is too strong an word for my feelings, but it did make me react, and that’s valuable.
“Bone White” by Patrick Sullivan is an example of a work trying to blend a lot of working pieces and doing it with partial success. I like the half of the story told in the past, it has a very “Emperor’s new Clothes” feel if the fairy tale included murder and depravity. I love dark fairy tales. The modern part, while possessing a chilling close, generally doesn’t work for me. How come this cloak still exists? Why wasn’t it destroyed or kept closely guarded? It’s too much of a jump for me. Still, a quick search shows Sullivan is new to publication and perhaps new to writing stories (publication =/= story experience). It’s a promising start and I’ll keep an eye out for more.
“The Adjunct Professor’s Alien Girlfriend” by Marge Simon —was borderline for me too. Description wise, there’s some elements about the male/female relationship I found concerning and annoying. It’s further compounded in my mind because the woman is an alien and some of the “visa” description harkens back to “mail order brides”. The sweetness of the ending helped me overlook a host of elements I didn’t appreciate. Like “Maestro” it’s a great conversation starter, but not my favorite.
Simon is an accomplished writer. Her work includes several award winning poems. They seem to have an element of fantasy or scifi as well as romance. Her Goodreads profile. She also has 6 easily searchable publications in Daily Science Fiction. They include: “The Sinner,” “Serving the Blind Girl,” “The Shutdown,” “Found in the Wreckage,” “The Human Guest,” and “Susan 3342 A.D.”
“Small Sacks of Children” by Andrew Kozma was a work I immediately disliked. I almost skipped it only to find myself completely taken by the end. Have to respect a writer who can instill such immediate emotion and then completely change the feeling in 1000 words.
I’m following him on Goodreads , though nothing up right now strikes my interest. I found another 4 of his works in Daily Science Fiction: “Company Man,” “When We Last Left,” “The Judges,” and “The Mountain.”
That’s 10 out of 23 stories or a 43% success rate. Do I think other people should subscribe to Daily Science Fiction and read all the stories—maybe? What I liked, I really liked and introduced me to new writers I want to follow and keep and eye on. It also gave me access to another 24 short stories to look at. Will this help me be more brief in my own writing or open publication paths for me—I don’t know. What I can say was that the process was fun and didn’t take a lot of time. If you’re trying to get back into reading and not sure who to follow or what to pick up, Daily Science Fiction might be just the place to give you some leads.