A good short story is a wonderful thing. It’s like a little packet of pure, mind-bending fiction heroin. If you haven’t subscribed to some of the excellent literary magazines out there yet, what the fuck’s wrong with you? Seriously. You’re living hand to mouth, buddy.

Here are five magazines that will gut-punch your brain with insanely talented writing (and won’t cost you much more than the price of a few skinny double-frappa-whatsits):

1. Thuglit

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What can I say about this magazine other than, fuck me? Editor, Todd Robinson, seems to be some kind of supernatural story whisperer. The quality of the crime-related short fiction in this mag is just insane. At $1.99, it would be criminal not to subscribe.

See what I did there?

A great story to begin with, and one that should give you an idea of the quality of the writing, is “The Beard” by Ed Kurtz in Issue 16.

You can subscribe to Thuglit via Amazon (and probably some other channels as well).

2. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

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The heavy-hitter, been-around-forever mag in this list is definitely Fantasy and Science Fiction. Solid short fiction, novelettes and novellas of a speculative slant is what they specialize in.

It’s an incredibly tough magazine to get published in, and that can mean only one thing: Mind-blasting, cerebrum-torching fiction.

You can subscribe to the mag via Amazon.

3. Jersey Devil Press

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Yes, I’m biased with this one. Not only do they publish weird fiction (my genre version of bree and figs and all things good), but they’ll also be publishing a story of mine in the upcoming November edition. So apart from having excellent taste (ahem), the editors of this mag know good weird when they see it.

I’ve hardly ever read a bad tale in this online mag—and that’s rare for any publication. If you like your stories seriously strange, not-of-this-universe odd, give JDP a try. Give it to your granny to read, too. She’ll dig it.

Check out “The Incident at Ong’s Hat” by Jill Hand and “Where’s the Best BBQ in This Town?” by Matthew Myers for some good examples of the kinds of stories you’ll find inside their digital pages.

4. Nightmare

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Horror stories should disturb. They should stay with you like that funny rash you picked up from the gym shower stall. They should not feature sparkling vampires.

Nightmare magazine delivers the goods. It’s run by the mac daddy of speculative fiction editors, John Joseph Adams–so they know what they’re doing.

What I love about this mag is how often the authors play with and generally subvert traditional horror tropes and conceits.

It proves that horror writing is alive (or is that undead) and well. Thank fuck.

You can subscribe to Nightmare via Amazon as well.

5. Apex

Apex Cover

Last but not least in the holy-shit-this-is-good-shit list is Apex Magazine. If Fantasy and Science Fiction represents a more traditional (but excellent) path into spec fiction, Apex blows down the doors and tosses in a few grenades for good measure.

Edited by Jason Sizemore, Apex publishes stories that bend and blend horror, science fiction, and fantasy together in one terrifically strange smoothy of literary wonderfulness.

Subscribe to them via Amazon or your preferred dealer of fictive substances.