We Join Us!
If you’re interested in publishing a story in Expanded Horizons, please read through our submissions guidelines carefully:
- What Does It Mean To Publish With Us?
- Pay Rates And Lengths
- How to Get Published With Us
- How to Get Rejected By Us
WE DO NOT PUBLISH EROTICA.
Strange Horizons, a well-known online speculative fiction magazine, publishes a list on their website of stories they see too often, as part of their submissions guidelines. Please review this list carefully before submitting a story to us.
Can I Be A Straight, White, Able-Bodied, Cis-Gendered Male And Still Publish With You?
Yes, so long as your story, carefully researched, directly promotes the inclusion of under-represented people. By way of example (and this is not an exhaustive list), in our first issue, Angel of Light by Joe Haldeman and Njàbò by Claude Lalumière are both written by straight white men. Angel of Light takes place in a future society in the Middle East where Christianity and Islam have merged, and Njàbò features a multi-racial, queer and polyamorous family.
We do not publish stories or poems which do not directly further our mission in some way. There are no stories which can fit with a general “theme” of our magazine without in some very specific way or ways authentically promoting diversity in the genre and the voices of those from under-represented groups and backgrounds. Your story simply being a “good story” (or, even, a story about “social issues” or about a social outcast) does not mean it fits with our magazine. Please be aware that most of the stories we publish (approximately 90%) are by women authors and/or authors from under-represented backgrounds.
My Work Is About A Fictional Ethnic Group, Is It A Fit For You?
Maybe. Please visit our Stories By Topic list to get a better sense of the types of stories we are looking to publish. Many of our stories have as many as six or seven tags from the list. We do not publish a story unless it in some way promotes the inclusion and voices of real life under-represented people.
Do You Accept Mainstream/General Fiction?
No. Although we do encourage and applaud the increased representation of under-represented authors and characters in mainstream/general fiction, we only publish speculative fiction.
What Does It Mean To Publish With Expanded Horizons?
We buy the right to publish your story, essay or poem on our website for the duration of one issue. Publication on our website is not, in our eyes, preclusive of any prior, concurrent or subsequent publication online or in print. We simply buy the right to publish your work on Expanded Horizons for the duration of one issue and to include your work in our downloadable version for that month. We hope, but do not require, that you allow us to continue to post your work in our archives, but you may remove your work from the archives at any point.
We are non-proprietary in our philosophy. We do not believe in any legal, financial, or reputational distinction between first printing and subsequent printings. Authors retain all rights to their works and need not ask our permission to do whatever it is with those works that they wish to do. We explicitly do not include in our contract that we are purchasing “First Electronic Rights” and we will take no action against an author who sells these rights, or any other rights, to any other venue after a work has appeared in our magazine. Your story is your own. We buy only the right to keep your work on our site for one month, and to include it in the downloadable version for that month. If you ask us to remove your work at any point after one month, we will remove it and modify the downloadable version on our site accordingly.
Simultaneous submissions are allowed (please follow proper simultaneous submission etiquette), and multiple submissions are also allowed. We accept both unpublished works and reprints, as long as republishing your work in Expanded Horizons does not violate any contracts you signed with prior or concurrent publishers or infringe on their legal rights in any way. We will have to remove your story if contacted by another publisher about such a violation.
In other words: We, Expanded Horizons, do not care if you have your story in another magazine concurrent with publication here. We do not care if you have published your story elsewhere before. But if your other publishers do care, and they don’t like that you published with us first or simultaneously, or even perhaps they prohibit you from submitting to or publishing with us at all, then you submit to us at your own peril.
Pay Rates And Lengths
We are looking for stories of about 6,000 words or fewer. There is no hard minimum length. We will not consider novels published in serial. Stories must be completed at the time of submission. We will NOT accept erotica.
We are also looking for essays of about 6,000 words or fewer. As with stories, there is no hard minimum length. Longer essays may be accepted on a case by case basis — please contact us first.
We also publish poetry. We have no hard minimum number of lines, but we are more likely to publish longer works.
We pay US $30 for each story, essay or poem accepted, regardless of its word count.
What We Want
We accept stories from all over the world (or off-world, if you can manage it!). We only publish in English. Publication will be digital, in standards-compliant XHTML format rather than Adobe PDF for maximum compatibility and accessibility.
We aim to be a venue where people of under-represented backgrounds can tell their stories in their own voices, and where authors not of those backgrounds can help increase the authentic representation of under-represented people through both carefully researched stories, and the creation of characters whom people of those same backgrounds would still, upon reading the story, recognize as “of their own.”
We publish not only stories and poetry, but also essays and reflections on speculative fiction and fandom that challenge the established biases of the field/genre. We created Expanded Horizons so that those whose points of view tend to be under-represented, or represented unrealistically or negatively in most speculative fiction may speak out in their own voice.
(The following categories are, of course, not mutually exclusive of one another.)
- We want to increase the number of people of color in speculative fiction. We are an actively anti-racist venue for voices of people of color in speculative fiction and stories authentically portraying the experiences of characters of color in speculative fiction. Show us strong protagonists of color, show us stories drawing from non-European experiences, legends and myths, show us the impact of extraordinary events or experiences on people of color. Show us us that stories can be told from the perspective of people of color without being just “about” race.
- We want to increase the ethnic diversity of speculative fiction. We are a welcoming venue for the voices of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and for speculative fiction stories authentically portraying the experiences of characters from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Show us strong protagonists who come from ethnic backgrounds not often portrayed in speculative fiction. Show us speculative fiction stories which take place in those cultures, societies, neighborhoods and communities. Show us how people of different ethnic backgrounds interpret and understand extraordinary events and experiences differently.
- We want to promote speculative fiction by Native/indigenous authors, especially stories which use the flexibility of the speculative medium to create new, powerful, post-colonial narratives about Native people in the future, present, and past. We look for stories which move beyond romanticization and “multiculturalism,” and beyond tropes of Native peoples as symbols of pristine ecosystems (not naming names, of course).
- We want to combat sexism in speculative fiction. We are an actively anti-sexist venue for women and female-identified people and for and stories authentically portraying the experiences of women and female-identified people in speculative fiction. Simply having a strong female protagonist in your story is not enough, by itself, to get your story published with us- your story must also directly further our mission of diversifying speculative fiction (by its author or its characters) in some way. Show us stories which pass the Bechdel test, show us how gender affects people/is interpreted in the future, show us how extraordinary events or experiences impact men and women differently, show us how gender plays a role in the magickal or supernatural lives of people in under-represented cultures. Show us that women don’t have to look or act a certain stereotypical way in order to be sympathetic characters with powerful voices of their own.
- We want to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and asexual people in speculative fiction. We are an actively anti-homophobic and safe space for voices of LGBQ and asexual authors and for stories authentically portraying LGBQ and asexual characters and their experiences. Show us positive, realistic examples of strong LGBQ and asexual protagonists. Show us that a story can feature LGBQ or asexual characters without being “about” sexual orientation or lack of. Show us these characters in their own, unique voices.
- We want to increase the number of transgender, transexual, intersex and genderqueer/fluid people in speculative fiction. We are a safe space for transgender, transexual, intersex, genderqueer and fluidly gendered authors and for speculative fiction stories that authentically portray the experience of characters who travel through, transcend or break the binary gender paradigm. We accept stories that reflect authentic transgender, transexual, intersex, and genderqueer/fluid experiences, but please keep in mind that WE DO NOT PUBLISH EROTICA OR SEXUALLY EXPLICIT STORIES. Many people’s only exposure to gender identity issues is through commercial pornography featuring transgender and⁄or transexual models, which conveys a skewed and inauthentic picture of what it means to be transgender and⁄or transexual. We aim to challenge this by publishing material which focuses on the full human complexity of gender identity experience. Show us strong protagonists who transcend this binary, or who have transcended this binary in the past. Show us that stories featuring transgender characters don’t have to be just “about” gender identity. Show us that gender is not limited to just two options.
- We want to increase the number of people with disabilities in speculative fiction. We are a safe space for authors with disabilities and for speculative fiction stories that authentically portray the experiences of characters with disabilities. Show us strong protagonists with disabilities. Show us that stories which feature characters with disabilities don’t have to be just “about” those disabilities. Show us characters with disabilities who are not in the story for some token or allegorical purpose. Show us the experiences of these characters in their own voices.
- We want to create a story-telling venue for those with rare and unusual sensitivities and awarenesses. Uncommon sensitivities and awarenesses (sometimes called psi, intuition, etc.) are a popular theme in speculative fiction. We aim to challenge the current portrayals by publishing stories about characters with these abilities that show such people in a realistic and respectful manner, to publish stories that feature such characters in their normal lives. We look for stories which are not primarily “about” these awarenesses and abilities, or even about them at all. For an excellent example of such a book, read How I Live Now. Note: We have a very strong preference for authors who are themselves sensitive and aware in these ways. We encourage these authors to write about their own experiences in the form of fiction, or to write about characters who are like them and other psi/intuitive folks they know. Please see the note below in the “What We Don’t Want” section before submitting a story to us with this theme.
- We want to create a story-telling venue for esoteric minorities and those with esoteric affinities, including but not limited to Otherkin, Mediakin/Fictionkin/Otakukin and Vampyres. Those with esoteric affinities often draw on themes, images, and stories in mythology and speculative fiction in order to identify, understand, process, contextualize, and identify with their own experiences. Do you want to contribute to the genre in your own voice? Do you want to challenge any of the negative portrayal of people like you? We welcome your stories.
- We want to create a story-telling venue for Pagans, Wiccans, Witches and other people who use ritual magick. We aim to publish stories authentically told from the perspective of people for whom magick is an important part of their lives. Show us your stories, in your own voice!
What We Don’t Want
We do not publish material which does not fit with the mission of our magazine (see above). Please do not send us a story until you have thoroughly proofread it.
We do not publish “single issue” stories. “Single issue” stories usually take place in the future, and involve speculation about what would happen if one thing were different, usually (but not always) involving technology. A story is “single issue” if all plot, character development, conversation and interaction concerns this and only this issue, which makes the story very linear, and the world feel very simplistic and flat.
Most of the stories we accept do not overtly discuss oppression, colonialism, prejudice, sexism, racism, or discrimination in any way.
- This guideline pertains to all stories which deal with oppression, whether the oppression in your story is of real groups, fictional groups, or real groups that are taken to be fictional groups.
- Please do not send us stories with the premise “fictional group X is oppressed!” or the premise “what if aliens do to humans what white people did to indigenous people?” Unless you are writing about a form of oppression that you can speak to from direct personal experience, we are not interested.
- Not all stories that feature protagonists from under-represented groups involve discussion of oppression or discrimination. Please utilize our “stories by topic” feature on our main page to read what we have previously published on your topic before submitting a work to us.
- If you intend to submit a story with a psi theme, please read the section below before you submit it to our magazine.
We do not publish stories about poverty, slavery, colonialism, sex-trafficking, racism, sexism, homophobia, able-ism or other forms of oppression that do not realistically reflect a deep personal sense and understanding of what it is like to endure and survive these hardships, or reflect a grasp of the complexities and nuances of the systems which support and underlie these prejudices on both social and institutional levels. If your story addresses or deals with these themes, please carefully consider whether your story is written from direct personal experience with that form of oppression before submitting to us.
We are serious about combatting racial/ethnic stereotypes in spec fic. If the sole purpose for having a character in your story from a certain racial/ethnic group, or for making your character be from a certain racial/ethnic group, is so that character can do [racial/ethnic stereotype], your story will be rejected. Example: Having a Romani/Gypsy character in your story (or a character of a racial/ethnic background which is being used as “code” for Romani/Gypsy), just so he or she can curse the protagonist.
Nanotechnology is over-used. Many “single issue” stories are about the perils of nanotechnology to grant eternal life or kill everyone on earth. We are not interested.
Stories about Muslim characters does not mean stories about terrorists. Even if your protagonists are the GOOD Muslims who are against terrorism and spend the whole story playing that role, as a counterpart to the “bad Muslim” terrorists. There are stories one can tell about Muslim characters which do not involve the theme of “terrorism” at all. Send us those.
We do not publish “my privileged character saves the whole world” stories. These stories all follow the same basic formula: 1) Our narrator, who is not in the fictional oppressed group, becomes aware that oppression is going on, such as by befriending an oppressed character; 2) this friendship teaches our privileged narrator a Valuable Life Lesson of Equality; 3) OH NOES, the Big Bad Bigots (in the same privileged group as our narrator) are trying to hurt the Poor Oppressed People (or character); so 4) our protagonist takes matters into his/her own hands and not only saves the oppressed character, but totally dismantles the entire system of oppression in his/her society overnight (in some hand-wavey way, such as by blowing up the city, releasing a virus that makes everyone have the same disease, convincing everyone to give up their genetic modifications or cybernetic implants, etc., invoking the Valuable Life Lesson of Equality that he/she just learned from his/her Oppressed Friend). Then all is happy, the end! We are not interested.
We do not publish “reverse discrimination” stories. ”Reverse discrimination” stories are single issue stories that follow a predictable premise: what if [privileged real life group] was actually discriminated against/oppressed/un-privileged? Examples: what if most of society was gay, and straight people were the discriminated minority? What if most male babies were killed and men were kept just for breeding? What if everyone was intersex, and cis-sexual people were considered “freaks”? Etc. Not only are these “single issue” stories about discrimination (usually by authors with no real life experience with the forms of discrimination described, it’s just made up), these stories do not further our mission of promoting the inclusion and representation of real life minorities in spec fic. In fact, these stories do exact the opposite — they pretend that privileged, majority authors can understand and write about the dis-privileged/minority/oppressed perspective if they just turn the tables in a simplistic, linear thought experiment. These stories also often frame the real-life oppressed people as the new oppressors: violent, insensitive, bigoted, etc. We believe the spec fic world does not need more “Poor oppressed men! Poor oppressed straight people! etc.” stories. These stories only marginalize already marginalized people even more. Please let minority/dis-privileged authors speak for themselves.
- Extraterrestrials are introduced as metaphorical people of color, metaphorical gay people, metaphorical trans people, etc., and the only side of their lives that the reader sees is one that showcases the oppression and prejudice they face.
- Lizard or Rat people are introduced as romanticized poor people, or metaphorical “exotic” people of color.
- Zombies are the new disabled people of the future, and face discrimination in non-zombie society.
- Androids are the new oppressed group of the future (metaphorically compared to people of color, gay/lesbian people, etc.), but deep inside they are more human than the “inhuman” humans.
- Magical Creatures (dragons, gnomes, faeries, etc.) are metaphorical people of color and face discrimination in Mundane or human society
- Exception to this guideline: the story is about being Otherkin (in which case the story would not be making a ‘one-dimensional’ point, but this is repeated for emphasis).
This is not an exhaustive list. Please don’t send us stories with this style of premise. We don’t publish many stories about oppression or prejudice. Thank you.
We do not publish any stories in which some subset of people (mutants, etc.) is the “new evolution” of humanity. This trope is simply far too over-used. Examples: Mutants/people with special powers are (or may be) the “new evolution,” or autistic people turn out to be the “new evolution.” We’re also not interested in stories where the the members of this new group release a plot to kill/enslave all the “normal” people, or those in the dominant group (ex. mutants rise up to kill all “normals,” androids/cyborgs rise up to kill all organics, women rise up to kill/enslave all the men, telepaths rise up to kill all those who are not similarly gifted… gelatin becomes sentient and eats all the people, you get the picture).
We do not publish stories about lizard people. No Lizard People. (Please!)
- We do not publish stories about Lizardmen, Ratmen, or any other oppressed Vermin-men. We don’t want to hear about how the rich, selfish, and corrupt humans are oppressing the poor, simple and genuine-hearted Vermin-people. These stories present a romanticized and distorted picture of oppression. If your story follows this pattern, it will be rejected.
- We also just don’t want any stories about lizard people, even if they’re the good guys and are not oppressed, and even if they’re the heroes.
- No “were-lizards.”
- Exception to this guideline: the story is about being Otherkin.
We do not accept stories that use extraterrestrials “allegorically” or metaphorically to tell a story or make a point about race, oppression or diversity among humans, unless the story otherwise fits very closely with our mission. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve seen stories that use extraterrestrials allegorically really well, and those stories can be a lot of fun, they’re just not what we’re looking for in this magazine (without more). Our magazine is about increasing the actual diversity in/of the genre, so stories whose publication would not directly promote actual diversity (here on Earth) do not work for us. Note: “The aliens came down, and we learned to stop fighting amongst ourselves (and to fight them instead)” is overused. Exception to this guideline: the story is about being Otherkin (which would fit closely with our mission of promoting actual diversity, but this is repeated for emphasis).
We are not keen on zombie stories. Although we have published a limited number of zombie-themed stories, we receive many, many more that we do not publish. We are not keen on stories which use zombies “allegorically” or metaphorically to make a linear point about race, disability, oppression or diversity among humans. Don’t send us a story with the premise, “In this world, being a zombie is like being disabled/a person of color/someone with a terminal illness,” and then try to make a point about one of these things (or about prejudice versus social acceptance in general). Remember — most of the stories we publish do not deal with oppression or prejudice in any way. We’re not interested.
We are not keen on gay/lesbian love stories that end in the couple’s death. For some reason, gay/lesbian romances which end in the death of one or both partners are over-represented in submissions. We don’t require happy endings, but we would prefer not to get so many “surprise, they were killed!” endings.
We are not keen on “end of the world” stories. Like zombie stories, we have published several of these, but we receive many more that we do not publish. Common reasons: 1) The “end of the world” has been predicted by a cliché prophesy (or astronomical prediction), and comes about exactly as prophesied (i.e., “the linear plot”); 2) the astronomy and/or geology and/or meteorology in the story has no shred of scientific basis (i.e. the Earth is about to crash into Mars, another sun shows up in the solar system and changes the seasons, the Earth all of a sudden starts rotating in the opposite direction, a lunar eclipse causes planet-wide cataclysmic seismic destruction, etc.). If you’re going to destroy the world (and this editor has), be creative, but please make it make sense!
No clone tropes. This includes clones not having souls, the protagonist cloning his/her deceased lover, the protagonist cloning him/herself to have the perfect (gay or lesbian!) lover, clone armies, etc. Not only has this all been done before (over and over), it’s also often “single issue” (see above). For a long list of clone tropes, see here.
We do not accept stories about indigenous/Native peoples that are not told realistically from the perspective of those indigenous/Native peoples themselves, or stories that place Native narratives in a romanticized “past.” We are uncomfortable publishing stories about Native peoples or theme where the viewpoint character is non-Native. We do not accept stories which romanticize Native people, history and customs (real or fictitious), or stories in which Native peoples (real, fictitious, visions, ghosts) serve as literary symbols for a pristine ecosystem. Please note that stories in which the “tables are turned,” and someone does to the descendants of the colonizers what those colonizers have done to the Native peoples, will not be accepted, nor do we accept stories featuring indigenous/Native people or cultures where the author exercises “creative license” to invent the beliefs, customs, religions, languages, traditions, legends, myths and lore of indigenous/Native people or communities. If you, the author, are not indigenous/Native, you will be asked to provide the research you have conducted in order to write your story. This research, while important for all stories where the author is “writing across difference,” is especially important in stories representing Native and indigenous peoples, whose cultures, traditions and lore are so often mis-represented in fiction as well as non-fiction, whose cultures and spiritual traditions are appropriated by whites, and about whom white authors so often feel the “right” to invent material with little to no historical or contemporary basis. It should also go without saying that if your story, or the viewpoint character in your story, portrays or describes indigenous/Native people as savages, or “magical savages,” in any way, it will be rejected.
We do not accept stories about fictional Native/indigenous tribes. Please do not send us stories where you have invented a fictional tribe with fictional customs in some fictional land, named or unnamed, which the readers are supposed to know are Native/indigenous (for example because they have “chiefs,” live in a “tribe,” reside in huts and fight with spears). Non-native authors often go this route because they know they cannot write authentically from a Native perspective, but want to write about Native people anyway. Almost always, the results are problematic. There is no ‘generic colonized Native culture’ — that’s a colonialist fiction, and colonized poeple do not think or talk about themselves this way. Thinking you can dodge the issue of rooting your colonialism in a real culture by making it a generic, nameless, colonized tribe of brown people doing generic Native customs is… colonialism. We really are looking for stories by Native/indigenous authors, and we really are looking for stories about something other than oppression.
We do not accept stories depicting gender-based violence, or any form of abuse of women, girls or children. Though it takes great strength to leave an abusive situation, surviving/escaping abuse is not the only strength a woman can possess. We do not publish any stories depicting rape in any form. We do not publish any stories in which women/girls/children are physically/sexually/verbally abused, made into sex slaves, or held captive for sexual purposes. We do not publish any stories with the following plotline: Women (and/or the children) are being abused. She kills her abusive (one-dimensional jerk of a) husband. The end. We do not accept stories in which robots or androids are “perfect” (or expected to be perfect) in some sexual, aesthetic or romantic way.Examples: androids make “perfect husbands” or “perfect wives,” androids make “perfect fashion models,” androids are the new, better prostitutes/sex workers. We’re not interested in stories in which female sex objects are, for the sake of the story, actual objects (but with feelings!). This runs directly contrary to our mission of combating sexism in speculative fiction. (Note: “Android geishas” are racist as well as sexist.)
We do not accept stories which contain or promote negative/inhuman images of obese people. Sometimes the whole point of a story is to say “this person was disgustingly fat!” Sometimes the whole development a character receives begins and ends at obesity (or obesity and skin color). Sometimes something awful happens to a character, but it’s “OK” because he or she was fat. Sometimes fatness is shown as a sign of moral decay. Sometimes fat characters are ostensibly shown in a “positive” light, but their bodies are described in offensive inhuman terms (whales, parasites, mountains, something else not human). Sometimes, this being spec fic, a character is inhumanly fat, for no clear reason in the story. This all goes against our mission, and we are not interested. If, on the other hand, your story authentically reflects the experience of obese people — your character happens to be obese but is a full human being, your character’s obesity is not the sole purpose of the story or the character, and your character’s obesity is never described by the author or any character as inhuman/a monstrosity, we will consider your piece.
We do not accept stories where disabled characters are, or become, “super-people” to compensate for (or in spite of) their disabilities, where the sole purpose of a character is to be disabled (i.e. “the blind guy”), or where the sole purpose of the story’s plot is to describe a character’s disability. These are very common tropes in spec fic, and don’t authentically reflect the experiences of disabled people, which is what Expanded Horizons is all about. We are interested in stories in which disabled people face challenges and overcome them just like any protagonist should, and stories which hold up a lens and examine how disability is seen in our world today — not stories which reduce people to what they can/cannot do (and define them as characters based on that), or which give them super powers of some sort to compensate for their “deficiencies.” Note: We’re also not interested in stories in which characters who are very powerful (magically, psychically etc.) are given disabilities by the author to “balance out” their power.
We do not publish stories involving “savage” or “primitive” alien species. Such alien species simply serve as literary proxies for indigenous/Native people here on Earth (see note on indigenous/Native people above). If your story describes an alien race or species as primitive savages in any way, it will be rejected.
We do not publish erotica, or stories not intended as “erotica” but which nonetheless contain explicit sexual content. Mild sexual content is allowed, so long as this is not the sole point of the story, it serves an artistic purpose, and the overall story furthers the mission of the magazine. If your story includes explicit sexual content, it will be rejected.
We do not publish stories about governmental/institutional oppression of psi people, stories in which psi characters are verbally and/or physically abused, or stories in which psi people are utilized as a metaphor for the oppression of some other group (racial, ethnic, political, etc.).
- Uncommon sensitivities and awarenesses (sometimes called psi, ESP, intuition, etc.) are a popular theme in speculative fiction, but these stories are rarely written from a realistic, authentic, internal perspective, showing that the author has a deep appreciation of the lives of actual psi people. Stories featuring psi people are usually written by non-psi authors who find the idea of such people “cool” in a plot device sort of way, or who wish to make a more generalized point about social oppression (and who find psi people a convenient choice for a variety of reasons).
- In speculative fiction, people who possess these sensitivities and awarenesses are not only frequently misrepresented and referred to with derogatory language, they are often oppressed, arrested, kidnapped, murdered, cruelly experimented upon, deprived of personal liberty/human rights/civil rights, verbally and physically abused, “rated” by a governmental body, or forced to take “medications” — not to mention stereotyped, tokenized, ”Othered,” “dehumanized,” and judged by standards which reflect majority biases. These characters are also often portrayed as two-dimensional, essentially as embodied “plot devices” whose “powers” save the day (or threaten to ruin it).
- In speculative fiction, people with uncommon sensitivities and awarenesses are often presented as logical targets of governmental oppression. They are often presented as actively planning or attempting social revolt (or perpetually on the verge of doing so). In spec fic, the common portrayal of psi people is as fundamentally dangerous — to others, to the social order, etc.
- Telepathic/empathic characters are often introduced in a story only to be berated, belittled, verbally abused, physically assaulted and/or brutally murdered for being telepathic/empathic.
None of these presentations serve our mission of increasing the authentic, respectful representation of under-represented (and mis-represented) people in spec fic — in fact, they go directly against that mission.
We do not publish any stories with excessive violence/gore. Some violence is acceptable, so long as this is not the sole point of the story, it serves an artistic purpose, and the story furthers the overall mission of the magazine. We do not publish stories that depict hate crimes in “loving detail” (see above). If your story promotes the real life use of violence against a specific group of people, or advocates the use of violence against a real person (such as a currently living public figure), it will be rejected.
We do not publish stories which depict real-life groups (or fictional groups that call themselves by the same name as real life groups) as violent, dangerous, abusive, or violating of the law, when this is untrue. This goes directly against the mission of our magazine, which is to promote the authentic representation of under-represented minority groups, and to combat negative stereotyping in speculative fiction. It’s also walking the line between mean-spirited and defamatory.
Please try to avoid Christian-themed clichés. European-based (or interpreted) Christian beliefs, and the Christian worldview of Heaven/Hell, are not underrepresented viewpoints in speculative fiction and literature. Please do not submit to us any stories along these lines. Examples include, but are not limited to: Jesus returning, the Apocalypse, the Rapture, Santa Claus, the Devil coming to Earth and interacting with people, angels with feathery wings, white male controlled Heaven/Hell, blonde-haired blue-eyed characterization of divine/angelic beauty, and the Devil’s really the “good guy.” We are not interested.
Please try to avoid common “twist” endings. We already know that Soylent Green (or your mystery meat) is made out of people, that your protagonist is dead (but doesn’t know it yet), that the mysterious neighbor is a ghost, and that the creepy stranger is the devil. We’re not going to accept your story if we can figure out the twist by the top of page two, and it plays out exactly as we predicted.
In general, we do not accept humorous stories, with two main exceptions:
- We do accept stories which reflect a style of humor specific to particular ethnic, cultural or sub-cultural groups, especially under-represented groups.
- We do accept stories which utilize cutting wit as a tool of social commentary about issues of diversity, difference, and social injustice.
These are very narrow exceptions. Most stories which are intended as humorous will be rejected.
Please also consider the following when deciding whether to send us your work:
- We do not publish stories in dialect unless the use of dialect is both accurate and realistic for that community.
- We do not publish stories which read like D&D campaigns, video games, or anime action television shows.
- Stories which feature strong female protagonists does not mean “chicks with swords.”
- Stories which feature transgender characters does not mean “men who suddenly wake up with huge breasts,” or “men whose external genitalia fall off, rendering them between genders.”
- We do not publish werewolf stories, we publish Therianthrope stories.
- We do not publish vampire stories, we publish Vampyre stories.
- Don’t put your disabled characters in hover-chairs. Find some ordinary, or actually creative way to show us your character is disabled. We are tired of the hover-chairs.
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “White male is a dick to women/ethnic minorities/indigenous people/oppressed aliens. Something happens, and white male learns his ‘lesson’/gets his comeuppance/feels guilty/tries to save everybody/learns to believe native lore/gets the girl.”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “White protagonist is faced with a supernatural problem with origins in an indigenous culture. White protagonist seeks out indigenous character (possibly the only indigenous character with speaking lines in the story) who tells them What Is Going On And Why.”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “Woman is helpless to escape oppression/improve her situation and then a MAN comes along to save her and show her the virtues of independence.”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “Woman is kidnapped by a monster, and so a man spends the whole story rescuing her.”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “Member of oppressed fictional group/alien species tries to ‘save’ his or her people⁄tries to escape oppression/is ‘rescued’ from oppression.”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “Earth is conquered/invaded by aliens/giant bugs. The human protagonist is humanity’s last hope!”
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: “Protagonist prays really hard/convinces someone else to pray really hard/convinces the whole world to pray really hard and the entire conflict goes away.”
- We do not publish ANY stories in which anyone gives birth to a cyborg savior or anti-Christ.
- We do not publish ANY stories with robot or android sex workers.
- We do not publish ANY stories which include a token female character who serves no purpose in the story other than for the (straight, male) protagonist to ogle her body/get aroused⁄lust after her/fantasize about her.
- We do not publish ANY stories where “blonde, blue-eyed and pale skinned” is described as “perfect” beauty.
- We do not publish ANY stories with the following plotline: Woman is depressed. Bad things happen to her. She dies.
- We do not publish stories in which the female “protagonist” does not drive the story in any way, where the plot events just keep happening to her and she is powerless to stop or change them.
- We do not publish stories about the multiverse/parallel universes or about someone meeting their past or future self unless the story very closely furthers our mission of diversifying speculative fiction in some way. There is nothing wrong with these stories per se, they are just overused. Consequently, we will only consider stories with these premises if the stories themselves very closely further our mission of diversifying speculative fiction. Examples: Ian R. MacLeod’s Breathmoss (Muslim, polyamorous and lesbian), or a story in which a transgender protagonist communicates with him/hir/herself before and after transition as part of wrestling with his/hir/her identity.
- Strange Horizons, a well-known online speculative fiction magazine, publishes a list on their website of stories they see too often, as part of their submissions guidelines. Please review this list carefully before submitting a story to us.
How To Submit
We do not publish material which does not fit with and further the mission of our magazine. If you doubt your story, essay or poem is a good match for our magazine, you are probably right, and you should not send it to us because it will be summarily rejected. Please read carefully about our mission and what we are looking to publish before submitting a story to us. It takes us time to review each story, and we are a small magazine. Please do not send us works that are a poor fit for us.
We only accept electronic submissions, and we do not accept works submitted in the body of an email. Please email your stories, in RTF format, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not put your work in the body of the email, even if your story is short. We will try to keep our response time to under a month.
We’d appreciate it if you told us a little about yourself as well, in order to help build our community.