**** TLDR: Sci Phi Journal is currently closed for submissions. Our next (thematic) call is scheduled for 1-31 January 2022. Only stories under 2000 words, in editable Word-compatible format (no PDFs). Include short bio and Philosophy Note in cover letter. For a better chance of making it through to the shortlisting pile, please take the time to read the guidelines below and the “Index of Heresies” (re: stuff we see too often). ****
There are plenty of amazing print and online journals out there for ‘character-driven’ fiction, and we encourage you to read them.
SPJ is not one of them, though.
Hence, we are not interested in stories predominantly about the sentiments and subjective experiences of fictional people. We want hard SF that zooms out of the personal and lifts off into the structural, the systemic, the epic. We yearn for carefully crafted philosophical speculation that puzzles over the questions of the future and alternate pasts. And we have a soft spot for stories created as ‘artifacts’ (fictional, ‘in-universe’ non-fiction).
So here are SPJ‘s quests:
– Campbellian hard SF. Reaching back to the roots of classic sci-fi, these rigorous tales take themselves seriously and push the boundaries of our scientific imagination, scaling from the nano to the meta. The cast, if any, is functional and disposable. It’s the sociological, technological and indeed cosmic developments that sweep the reader up in an expanding sense of wonder. (For a contemporary long-form example that received mainstream attention, see the latter two books of Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy.)
– Fictional non-fiction. The purest, most intimate form of world-building. A transcript of the last UN Security Council meeting before an extinction-level event. The dental bills of a cybernetic vampire. Interviews with eyewitnesses of a battle between Martians and archangels. (Epistolary fiction falls within this category, though we encourage you to interpret it more broadly, across the full spectrum of artifact fiction.) Think ‘World War Z’, not ‘Walking Dead’.
– Speculative philosophy. Extrapolating abstract ideas to examine the implications if they were to manifest. (See for instance The End of History, the Beginning of Hers in Vol. V. Issue 1. for a theological example of just what we mean.)
(The first author to have a story published in each of the three categories gets to choose any one member of the extended editorial team and marry them. You’ve been warned.)
Length and formatting
Brevity tends to correlate positively with idea-density. Thus we are looking for stories no longer than 2000 words (but preferably shorter). Due to the volume of submissions, we cannot promise to read stories that are over the word limit.
.doc, .docx, .odt, .rtf, .txt, anything is fine as long as it’s editable. No PDFs, TIFFs or coffee mug-stained scans, please. Preferably size 12, in easy-to-read font.
Your submission is welcome at email@example.com.
Please only submit one story at a time – don’t send in a second piece until you’ve heard from us. Simultaneous submissions are okay, but if you place your story elsewhere in the meantime, do kindly let us know.
In your email, please include a short bio to accompany your work (quirky or serious are both fine) and indicate the sub-genre your story falls into (this helps our internal workflow). We also encourage you to include a Philosophy Note: a short paragraph on the inspiration for the tale and which philosophical questions it addresses, as well as relevant further reading you might wish to recommend.
By submitting your story to us, you agree to grant SPJ exclusive first publishing rights in case of acceptance. We only take previously unpublished works of fiction, for obvious copyright reasons.
In addition to original fiction, we would like to unearth buried and forgotten treasures written in languages other than English. We are therefore open to receiving translations of short stories that fit within the sub-domains outlined above, provided they haven’t previously been translated into English, or you can give us a very good reason why they should be re-translated.
Where applicable, it is the responsibility of translators to secure permission from the author or copyright-holder. By submitting a translation to us, you imply that you have done so.
We would love to be able to read Sanskrit, Kalaallisut and Bidayuh. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten around to learning them yet. For that reason, translators are solely responsible for the accuracy of their work. We can only assess the literary qualities of the final English text, which will be judged by the same criteria that apply to original fiction.
For accepted works, at present we are able to offer the standard semi-pro rate of 3 (Euro) cents per word for original fiction and 1 (Euro) cent per word for translations of fiction into English. At this point, we regret that we are unable to provide payment for non-fiction.
Payment is made through PayPal. For this to work, authors need a (free) PayPal account.
For some light-hearted hints on what we are and aren’t looking for, we invite you to read Sci Phi Journal‘s Index of Heresies.
And for a bit of insight into our guiding principles, please check out the ‘Note on our Philosophy’ on our About page.