A big thanks to Bryan Thomas Schmidt for his blog post “16 Holiday Themed Science Fiction And Fantasy Stories” earlier this month. Here at the RT office, we had a great time going through each free story and getting a huge holiday dose of futuristic fun. The web team was especially excited by three stories by some very well known authors. If you are looking for some great Christmas reading, look no further than the following tales.
Are you of the opinion that Christmas has become too commercial? Then just wait until you read China Miéville’s short story “‘Tis The Season”. This holiday tale takes place in the near future when Christmas has been trademarked along with Santa, Mistletoe and even Christmas Trees. Holiday parties have been privatized by YuleCo and licenses sold to the highest bidders. There are, of course, “budget competitors” like Xmas Tym or Coca-Crissmas, but really, who wants to do the holidays on the cheap? So when the story’s unnamed narrator gets tickets to an officially sanctioned event, he is excited to take his 14-year-old daughter, Annie. But before they can reach the party, they run into radical “Christmasarians” who are singing banned hymns, drinking outlawed eggnog and carrying illegal tinsel. More than just a diatribe on the commercial aspects of the season, this story is a cleverly drawn satire that will remind readers what is really important during the holiday season.
RT’s Elisa picks “Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s: A Harry the Book Story” by Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick has been winning Hugo awards since the ‘80s and is known for crafting fantastical tales that play with history. In Dragon America he re-imagines the New World with dragons, and in The Doctor and the Kid he gives Doc Holliday magical powers. His short story “Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” is in a similar vein. Except, instead of playing upon actual historical figures and events, this story is set during Christmas Eve in a fictional gentleman’s club reminiscent of a pulp-y noir novel. Harry the Book, a bookie, stops by Harvey Wallbanger’s to collect debt from gambler Bet-A-Thousand McNabb, but instead of using force to get his payment, he wagers his own bet with McNabb: $20,000 that he can’t name all of Nick the Saint’s reindeer. When McNabb thinks he’s won, Harry reveals that he’s made a special deal with St. Nick. Packed full of supernatural characters (Milton the Mage and Dead End Dugan, a doofy zombie, are my favorites), “Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” is sure to make anyone looking for a light read with some paranormal flare smile.
RT’s Whitney loves “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis
I have been a Connie Willis addict since the day my parents handed me her novel To Say Nothing of the Dog when I was barely big enough to tote around a hardcover book. (Okay, so that may be a bit of an overstatement, but I was a wee little fifth grader.) “All Seated on the Ground” includes Willis’ signature wit and like in all of her other tales, the characters in this short story — both the human and alien, adult and child — spring to life as though they are people you’ve just met. Additionally, if you’ve ever sung in a choir, or heard a choir before (or after) they sing, you’ll appreciate this tale as one that perfectly captures the experience. Brava Connie Willis and thank you for another diverting tale!
Want more short free sci fi reads? Check out Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s complete list of free short stories available online here >>