I have recently spent some time exploring the archives of Lightspeed Magazine, which is an excellent magazine of speculative fiction and it also includes podcasted stories.
I decided to share my best of list with you. (URLs added. All of this is free content.). Check these out if you still haven't.
These short stories will give you a very nice outlook on contemporary speculative-fiction literature. The selection is completely arbitrary and only reflects my personal taste. I only selected stories that give the reader something different form the classic (hard) sci-fi themes, as I like my sci-fi new and fresh.
These are the best 15 stories that I have found at the Lightspeed website:
- Transcript of Interaction Between Astronaut Mike Scudderman and the OnStar Hands-Free A.I. Crash Advisor by Grady Hendrix
A hilarious story about the sci-fi clichés about landing on alien planets and also about the extiction of humanity. It is worth listening to the audio (12:46 minutes), the actors did a great job with this one.
- I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno by Vylar Kaftan
A love story for space travel and physics fanatics. I haven't seen anything quite like this either.
- Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain by Yoon Ha Lee
A story about a female fighter and a beautifully crafted and magnificent weapon which can change history.
- The Observer by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A story about a woman who was the subject of an experiment, which is meant to turn young women into fierce fighters.
- Saying the Names by Maggie Clark
This one is about a father and daughter conflict, but it is set in space and there is also encounter with an alien civilisation.
- Sweet Sixteen by Kat Howard
A story about coming of age and female role models.
- Amid the Words of War by Cat Rambo
An alien soldier becomes a refugee and then a sex worker in this story.
- Long Enough and Just So Long by Cat Rambo
Two women meet a 'male' AI/robot which is designed to be a sex robot but prefers freedom.
- No Time Like the Present by Carol Emshwiller
A teenage girl realizes that the neighbours, including her best friend, came from another time.
- Simulacrum by Ken Liu
A very emotional story about family relationships, esp about a father and daughter conflict, worsened by the man's addiction to virtual, artificial persons.
- Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son by Tom Crosshill
A poor boy becomes the subject of a scientific experiment and almost destroys the whole city.
- Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn
A Hugo Award Finalist short story, about issues related to motherhood, and all this is in a sort of post-apocalyptic setting and on a ship (and on sea).
- Ej-Es by Nancy Kress
A story about escapism, madness, cure, charity, colonization and destruction.
- Eliot Wrote by Nancy Kress
Again, a story with questions of personality, about human intelligence, about how the mind of a genius works and what is normal and the importance of all this.
- Jenny’s Sick by David Tallerman
A guy discovers that his girlfriend has developed a strange addiction and leaves her, but regrets this and is willing to help her later. Near-future setting, with unusual illnesses and cures.