Sci Phi Journal’s Index of Heresies

Or, things we see too often and are unlikely to publish

N.B. These are not rules, but subjective preferences, and there can be many reasons why we might make an exception.

Genre & Style

We are a venue for speculative fiction, even if in its broadest sense. A handy rule of thumb: if your story would work without the speculative element, then it’s not spec fic. (I.e. a dating romance on a spaceship is not SF, but romantic literature “IN SPACE”.)

We prefer purple prose to contemporary grit. Think 19th century belletristique, not comic books. We frown at profanities.

No character-driven stories. We are mainly after conceptually robust, idea-driven works of intense world-building and deep philosophical implications. That said, emotion and personal concerns may have a place in these stories, if they are justified.

Content

We believe in absolute freedom of thought and a largely unrestricted freedom of expression. That said, we are unlikely to accept stories that promote clichéd stereotypes, i.e. X group of people are all Y or Z. (E.g. ‘Jewish conspiracy’, ‘white privilege’, ‘savage natives’, etc.)

Naturally occurring diversity is beautiful. Ostentatious virtue signalling, on the other hand, usually makes for bad literature. Please leave contemporary politics and ideologies out of it. Think timeless, not timely.

All branches of philosophy and futurology are good. Cosmology and theology are great. We also welcome hard SF, high fantasy and alt history. We don’t mind plagues and zombies. We’re bored of ghosts, vampires and werewolves, though.

Avoid tired tropes too often encountered in spec fic. Evil corporations. Greedy humans. Futures that look like the present on steroids. Aliens that think like millennials. You get it.

A Note on Selection

In line with standard European practice, the editorial process is based on blind reading and selection happens purely on the basis of literary and conceptual merit. We pay no attention to any identity markers, in either positive or negative ways. Within reason, we are equally indifferent to the supposed ethical credits of our authors (i.e. we don’t judge whether you are a ‘nice’ person). If Elizabeth Bathory herself were to rise from hell and write a ground-breaking SF story, we’d probably publish it.

We wish we could give individual feedback to all authors. Alas, that is humanly impossible. Perfectly good stories may sometimes not get selected, for instance because several other stories might have also dealt with overlapping topics and/or we had accepted similar stories in the recent past and are looking for greater variety.

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