A Month of Otherworldliness

It’s been exactly a month since we opened the submission window for our second anthology and started accepting submissions based on the theme of ‘Aliens & Otherness’. To mark the date, we wanted to discuss the theme a bit more and to catch those of you not on our mailing list up on our news.

Aliens & Otherness

“Science fiction has long framed narratives of aliens around questions of identity, of what makes us human. […] Our anthologies embrace many genres, tones, and forms. Have fun with the weird, the bizarre, the monstrous and the mysterious. Reflect on the emotions that ‘Alien’ and/or ‘Other’ evokes in you and write from that place.”

We released a three paragraph long summary of what ‘Aliens & Otherness’ means to us on our Theme Breakdown page shortly after we opened the submission window. We have also been tweeting out weekly writing prompts on Fridays both to inspire you and to give you an idea what kind of pieces we’re looking for. Here’s some subtext on each of the prompts we’ve released thus far:

In other words, we’re looking for pieces about resilience, about getting back up when you’ve been knocked down, about doing whatever it takes to survive. And, since this post was inspired by J.K. Fulton’s Uncharted Constellations story ‘SCATTERED ACROSS THE STARS’, this is also a call for pieces starring extremophilic microbial life from another planet.

This prompt is all about exploring the limits of what it means to be human. Becky Chambers crewed a whole space-ship with this approach in the long way to a small angry planet.

This one is about core identity: who would you be if you stripped away everything that makes you, well, you. It’s about fresh starts and leaving your past behind. It’s about the emotions such a scenario would evoke: fear, panic, confusion. And it’s also about the setting: set adrift among the stars far from the sanctuary of a home planet.

The next prompt will be released at the usual time later today. If you miss it, you can find all the prompts on our Theme Breakdown page.

What to do if you’re not sure your piece is what we’re looking for:

Short answer:

Submit it anyway.

Long answer:

The overall tone of the anthology will be determined by the submissions we receive. We decided not to give this anthology a title at this stage for that exact reason. Last year, we called for submissions using the title Race for the Stars. But the final anthology read more like an exploration of humanity’s place in the universe rather than a race to conquer it and we decided to change the title to Uncharted Constellations. So even if your piece doesn’t match our explanation exactly, send it to us and let us decide if it works with the other submissions. 

Find out how to submit on our Submission Page.

States of Independence

In other news, we’re very excited about this year’s States of Independence festival, which Siobhan is helping to organise:

“This year’s digital festival will be a celebration of indie publishing in all its forms. It will embrace a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions, workshops, networking opportunities, writing prompts and chat. With our online accessibility, we hope to attract an even wider audience of indie publishers, writers, book lovers and students. Our headline panel session will showcase the resilience of indie presses during this pandemic period and explore how best to nurture this sector as we come out of lockdown.”

In addition to the usual one-day event on the 24th April, there’s going to be a Publishing Panel with Margaret Busby & Farhana Shaikh (17th March 10–11.30am) and a Roundtable Networking event on Indie Publishing in a Pandemic (17th April 2pm) this year. You can register for the FREE panel through this eventbrite link but the Roundtable is closed to the public so you’d need to contact Siobhan at statesofindie@gmail.com to participate.

If you want to keep up to date with the festival news as it’s released, you can sign up for the States of Independence newsletter here.

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