i4is—Call for Science Fiction Stories
Science fiction literature is a field known to have inspired people involved in national and international space programs long before their inception. The field also harbours a long interstellar tradition, one that continues to inspire the people currently working on a future for humanity among the stars.
The time has come for the Initiative for Interstellar Studies to put together its own anthology of original short fiction on interstellar themes, with publication anticipated in 2023.
We invite i4is members and those willing to join to submit their science fiction stories for consideration. The sales proceeds are to go to i4is, so stories will be considered donations by their authors. Apart from the personal rewards of writing and donating to a worthy cause, authors may look forward to enjoying a newfound visibility among a readership naturally interested in star travel, which we hope will result a fruitful cross-contamination.
This anthology is edited by Sarah Margree and Jean Asselin.
Sarah holds an MA in Creative Writing and a Postgraduate Certificate in Space Science and was the first Executive Secretary of i4is. She is a member of i4is, the BIS and a fellow of the RAS. Sarah is a first reader for James Gunn's Ad Astra (adastrasf.com) and is setting up her first writing retreat.
Jean holds an MSc in Structural Geology (Imperial College) and has been editor-in-chief of the SF journal James Gunn’s Ad Astra since 2015. He is a member of i4is and BIS. He is also a regular workshop leader and attendee.
The theme is Interstellar, broadly interpreted: manned or unmanned travel to the stars or preludes to it, related technologies such as propulsion, communication, probes, cryonics, robotics, etc., who or what we might meet there, even faster-than-light travel.
First and foremost, we are looking for interesting stories: a definite beginning, middle, end, believable characters who are changed by the events they live through, and a storyline that wouldn’t happen without this interstellar theme. Should you have doubts about your story idea or don't consider yourself a science fiction reader, feel free to ask one of the editors.
The working title is “The i4is Science Fiction Anthology.” (Yes, we know this is rather obvious, let us work on it!)
There is no firm word count limit, although stories between 3,000 and 10,000 words are likely to be more successful, since first writings are often overly long, and a much shorter tale can be difficult to flesh out in a satisfactory fashion.
Any person who is already a member of i4is in good standing or is willing to join as a condition for participation can submit a story for this anthology.
Stories must be original, previously unpublished—this includes websites, blogs, etc. and in the Shunn modern manuscript format https://shunn.net/format/story/.
(Note that this is not optional: think of it as when a teacher first warned you that handwritten papers put you at a disadvantage compared to those that are typed.) Multiple submissions (more than one at a time) are not accepted, likewise simultaneous ones (submitting to us and another market). However, you can submit another story once you have received a response for your previous entry.
Please note that the act of submitting a story does not, in and of itself, entail publication. Editorial advice is offered by the editors. In selecting stories, they may— and probably will—ask for changes deemed necessary for the overall quality of the anthology. The editors’ decisions regarding rejection or acceptance will be final, based on their knowledge of the field and how to write for it.
Several revisions are not uncommon, especially for newer writers, so participants should expect some work beyond their first draft. While professional fiction writers tend not to boast about their own revisions, they in fact do revise until their prose best presents the story they want to tell.
As humans learn by doing and because it is easier to find room for improvement in the work of others than in our own, free writing workshops are also offered.
These are meetings where participants provide reader reactions intended to improve the story, the idea being that your peers typically represent the target audience. Note that workshop participation requires authors to submit their stories in advance. Feedback on the submitted story is couched in terms of what works and what could be done differently. Writers then revise for the next meeting.
The first workshop is planned for Saturday, 24 September 2022, to be held at a venue in Lincoln. Depending on demand, further workshops can be held over the next few weekends. We are looking for a maximum of ten participants per workshop, and these places are allotted on a first come, first served basis. They will be followed by bi-weekly or monthly online meetings/clinics as needed.
It is the editors’ experience that such workshops go a long way in bringing writers to the desired level of proficiency, so contributors to this anthology are strongly encouraged to enlist.
Handouts on the craft of writing fiction will be made available to participants. These cover various aspects such as point of view, narrative tense, character development, dialogue, structuring scenes, how to present action, and so on. They are not recipes but general principles that have been found useful to tell stories in writing.
For more information
Should you have further questions, please do not hesitate to email one of the editors to the addresses below.