“…the stories here were selected on the appallingly naive basis that I liked them.”

-Gardner Dozois, introduction to Modern Classics of Fantasy. This sums up my ethos nicely.

Why do you feel qualified to recommend short stories?

I’ve always read short stories. But five years ago I decided that if I wanted to write them, I needed to read a lot more to figure out how they work. I recorded everything I read in a spreadsheet for motivation, and because I get a strange pleasure out of playing with websites. (This explains why I’m trying to earn a living as a tax accountant.)

Since then I’ve read over eight thousand short stories, novelettes and novellas. I’ve read bad stories, generic stories, decent stories, and some that are quite good but don’t reach that arbitrary threshold of excellence that makes them into a great story. All the stories here have, for one reason or another, tripped across that excellence line.

Which is not to say all the stories I recommend here are equal. Some are brilliant life-changing works of art, and some are merely very good. They’re all worth reading, at least in my opinion.

Why recommend short stories?

I can’t help it. I’ve read so many good ones, from classics to obscure gems that have never been reprinted. The stories I recommend are things that I’ve read and immediately want to tell someone about, to convince them to read them and feel the same pleasure I feel.

These recommendations are just my natural enthusiasm in a written form.

What are your criteria for recommending a story?

If I really enjoy reading it. Nothing else. Unless it’s directly relevant, I don’t bear in mind the author or the author’s other works when reading. If Caligula had written a brilliant short story, I might eventually recommend it. (He hasn’t, as far as I’m aware.) Conversely, I don’t bear in mind any minority or majority to which the author belongs to, so I don’t have quotas for any demographics.

How often do you update?

Three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I haven’t missed an update so far, and I try to have at least a month’s worth of recommendations written in advance.

How can I find the stories you recommend?

If the story is legally available online, I provide a link at the bottom of the recommendation. I also provide a link to any e-book copies or any anthologies that contain the story. I also, with great thanks to isfdb.org, provide details of where you might find the story in print.

Friday’s story will always be freely available online. I call this my ‘Freebie Friday’ scheme, because bad puns are insidiously tempting creatures.

My favorite story/author isn’t on here; does that mean you don’t like them?

Not necessarily. I haven’t talked about a lot of my favorite stories and authors yet. I need to have read a story recently to write about it well, so the recommendations I make are based on what I’ve recently read and what I’ve actively sought out to reread. And there are some authors, like W. Somerset Maugham and Isaac Asimov, that have written so many stories that I’m in a dilemma over what to recommend first.


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