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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome to Daily Science Fiction, an online magazine of science fiction short stories. We publish "science fiction" in the broad sense of the word: This includes sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream-- whatever you'd likely find in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. Our stories are mostly short short fiction (flash fiction) each Monday through Thursday, hopefully the right length to read on a coffee break, over lunch, or as a bedtime tale.

Please read our current short story below. Browse the topics in the sidebar; everything from aliens to time travel, fairy tales to wizard tales; and read what intrigues you. Don't forget to subscribe via email to receive each story in your inbox every weekday for free.

We'll Always have Sybaris

Dear Customers of Quantum Polytemporal Interactive Dating (popularly known as qPid):
It has been our goal for over five years (meta-time) or five millennia (world-time) to provide you and your loved ones from whatever century with reliable service and to ensure a positive user experience across the timeline. Recently (in a five-dimensional sense), an uptick in complaints has put our support staff under considerable strain. Some of these reflect basic misunderstandings of our services. Others are, sadly, beyond our capacity to solve. So that we can continue to offer diachronic dating and chat, we ask your cooperation in reading and acknowledging the following guidelines before opening an account.
1) When in doubt, keep our motto in mind: "Love heals all wounds, but time conquers all."
2) When starting a new relationship, do try to find common ground. Many stories, songs and landmarks have not changed appreciably for hundreds or thousands of years. Find something that you can both enjoy. Otherwise, you just risk confusing your new friend and making more work for our support staff upstream.
Just because you did your graduate thesis on 13th-century agriculture doesn't mean that every milkmaid from Cornwall to Constantinople wants to hear about it.
3) It is not against policy to warn your friend about impending natural disasters and other historical calamities, so long as you have submitted your upstream intervention form (#22B-revised) and clearly marked the affected timeline. However, we strongly advise that you not tell your friend the date of their eventual demise. From the moment you contacted them, you shifted them into a new timeline, so your prediction may not be accurate. Besides, it's a no-win situation. If you're wrong, you might have caused your friend needless worry, and if you're right, it's not like you'll get to say, "I told you so."
4) If more than five consecutive instances of a particular person decline your chat request, it's time to move on. We are well aware that the multiverse is infinite, and that, statistically, one of them is bound to say yes, but it places an undue burden on our upstream staff. Perhaps you could spend the time looking into our reasonably priced dating guides instead.
5) If you receive a report that your loved one has been waylaid by bandits, caught up in an inquisition, abducted by aliens, and so forth; please do not remit payment before consulting our staff. We'll let you know how everything turned out.
6) In case of alien abduction, above, please note that we have downstream arrangements with several races. To our Premium Plan subscribers, let our attorneys handle the restitution. It's what you pay them for, after all.
7) Please note that if you are taken for a god, demon, or alien in the course of your conversations, the Terms of Service entitle us to ten percent of any tribute or votive offerings you may receive. It helps maintain our upstream branches, and it's only fair.
8) If you have said something unforgiveable or shared too much about something that should have been kept quiet, our policy does not prevent you from sending a message further upstream to warn yourself to handle things differently. Remember, though, that qPid assumes no responsibility for any loss of temporal integrity that may result. We at qPid are committed to ensuring you a quality experience, but it is not our job to decide what set of conscious entities counts as "you."
9) Accept that it will all end someday. If you are looking for human companionship or anything remotely like it, all such things will end. Cities crumble. Lives drift apart. That's how it is, across the multiverse. You can set your sights upstream and try to relive the moment where it all started. We've all done it. Just know that your return trips will never be quite the same as the first time. As Heraclitus said, you can't step into the same river twice.
10) Sometimes, it is best to let the past stay in the past. Many stories, songs, and landmarks stay the same for hundreds or thousands of years. Remember that favorite poem, that favorite song, and that walk along the beach. They'll never really be gone in your own mind, even after the timestream has washed everything else away.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, November 30th, 2015

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