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Taking Submissions: Alien Dimensions – Space Fiction Short Stories #20
May 31, 2021
Deadline: May 31st, 2021
Theme: Science fiction set in the far future in space with aliens (not on Earth.)
Submissions are now open for the July 2021 release of Alien Dimensions – Space Fiction Short Stories #20. Submissions Deadline is 31st May 2021. Submissions will be read in June 2021.
Alien Dimensions is now part of the Maldek House department ‘Space Fiction Books‘ and will only be publishing short stories set in deep space from now on.
To get an idea of what kind of stories are likely to be accepted for Alien Dimensions in the future, please check out Space Fiction Collection 1.
What is Space Fiction?
- Nothing set on Earth. Or, if there is a part of your story on Earth, it should be so futuristic that we don’t recognise it. If so, you can name the planet something else!
- Aliens. Mandatory! Real aliens, with tusks, tentacles and blobby, leafy, electric, silicon bits! Avoid humanoid aliens. If you’re stuck, play Pokemon Go for a while and get some ideas!
- Space, with extrapolated science. I want to read explanations of how your spaceship drive works. I want to imagine how the engineering of your future operates. I want to hear the impossible details of the alien planets your characters visit.
- Adventurous and fun.
Write for Alien Dimensions
Thank you for your interest in submitting to Alien Dimensions
Read further for what stories I’m now looking for. Lots of detail below so that it saves us both time, and there’s less chance of a rejection!
3,500-4,500 words only. “Set it in space, in the far future, and include some friendly non-humanoid aliens helping to solve a pseudo-scientific problem. More cerebral than stomach! Space Fiction! Written in the restrictive third person.” US$10 flat rate.
Rights retained for 2 years. First year – exclusive. Second year – non-exclusive. After 2 years, full-rights return to the author, and the Alien Dimensions issue it is in is removed from sale.
Detailed Submission Guidelines
Things to include:
- 3,500 to 4,500 words – okay to go over but it’s still US$10 so…
- At least one great idea
- Preferably written in the third person (or if you prefer first person writing, do a lot of head jumping, and include lots of dialogue)
- Set in the future, at least 100 years hence. Happier with 1000 years hence. Let’s avoid 20th/21st century baggage and just tell an original story
- Some kind of non-humanoid aliens present, usually friendly
- More alien worlds, more non-humanoid characters. E.G.: intellectual bacteria, plants with tentacles, a conscious galaxy, or some other not even vaguely humanoid creature / energy being. Do your best to create something non-anthropomorphic
- End on a positive note (aim for it, but if it is impossible, I’ll still consider it, if the story is good)
- PG 13. No sex, swearing, obvious LGBTQI+ themes, unless the entire story will fall apart without it. It’s a short story so please don’t bother with a romance or endless character development, or detailed descriptions of what the characters look like.
- Must be original. No using copyright characters or established series.
- Must never have been published before by another publisher. As Alien Dimensions will be submitted to Amazon Kindle for approval, if Amazon’s A.I. detects something that’s already been published in a different way, Alien Dimensions might get blocked from publication
- A lot of dialogue between characters that move the story forward. Set in the now. (A short story doesn’t have time for prologues or too much backstory. Save those for your novels!)
- Short scenes. Change the location or the situation as quickly as possible. Don’t get stuck in one place for more than a few sentences
- Docx preferred.
And I’m also looking for a high level of grammar, vocabulary, intelligent dialogue and general creative writing ability.
Things to avoid:
- Derivative works referring to religious texts. Let’s not be too serious
- Works that pretend to be set in an alien world but feature obviously contemporary human situations with just the names, descriptions and years changed to sound more alien and futuristic.
- Narration stories where there is no dialogue, and one character just tells a story from beginning to end
- ‘Journey’ stories. If characters need to get from A to B, please invent some sort of science to get them there in seconds. Save journeys for long novels. Short stories should be about focusing on the complicated situations characters find themselves in, and how they are (if they can be) resolved, rather than describing each step they take between A and B. If your characters must change location a lot, invent some device to get them there in seconds, and to skip five paragraphs of descriptive journey text!
- Court room scenes or boxing scenes! Courts have only existed for 800 years in western culture. Don’t expect them to be around in a 1000.
- Terms like ‘stargate’ (Stargate) or ‘warp drive’ (Star Trek), or ‘time vortex’ (Doctor Who), or ‘the force’ (Star Wars). ‘A.I.’ and ‘hyperspace’ are okay as they’re common terms throughout all SF.
- Dystopias. Alien Dimensions is a predominantly positive series about the future.
- Pop culture references. It is unlikely characters years in the future would know anything about the present. Readers love to become immersed in a story and feel like they are there, watching things unfold. Pop culture references that wouldn’t fit the reality throw them out of their immersion. They also age the story. Best avoided unless a section of the story is somehow set in 2021, or one of your characters is an immortal human.
- Fantasy. Alien Dimensions is no longer looking for any fantasy-style stories.
Please read some of the more science and dialogue-driven stories from Alien Dimensions to get a feel for what I’m looking for before submitting, and to support the ebook series so that I can buy more stories!
Hi. I’m Neil A. Hogan and I’m the editor of Alien Dimensions. There is just me behind the scenes, so apologies if there is a delay in replying somewhere down the track. I’ve recently changed the release period for Alien Dimensions, which means I’ll just reply to your emails after each reading day. This will allow me time to focus on my own novel writing.
I’ve read online that some decades-old publications get between 700 and 1000 submissions a month. These publications tend to ask for more contemporary stories, or contemporary style human drama set in a slightly SF environment. While writing something is always hard, encouraging writers to tap into their experience and focus on the beauty of the word, rather than asking them to come up with a completely alien world that blows your mind, really doesn’t appeal to me that much. Sorry about that. Think pulp fiction and space opera, not literary fiction. That’s why I created Alien Dimensions. The goal is to release stories with mind-numbing ideas, brain expanding concepts, or just to get a reader to say WTF? There isn’t enough SF out there that really makes you think about the universe, so, that’s what I’m looking for – something that at least includes SOME hard science or high-tech science, and preferably some hard-to-comprehend aliens.
Even so, if you can write a decent story, at least touching on some real science, you’ll get my attention. (I’d rather learn it through reading SF than try to get my head around it in a course!) If you write something that is non-anthropomorphic, or xenofictional, I’ll be shouting for joy!
If you’re stuck for a science idea to get you started, I recommend installing the app Science News from AppsForNexus. Google Play link here: Science News Daily It aggregates science news from a variety of sources.
About Alien Dimensions
Alien Dimensions is a not-for-profit science fiction publication with a focus on independent authors from around the world, open to submissions from anyone, anywhere from any walk of life. So, you may find a mix of English grammar and spelling from the UK, Australia and the USA, as well as region specific mother tongue influences on sentence construction and punctuation usage. I don’t/wouldn’t want to destroy some of the subtle flavours / flavors / tastes that someone has/had added to their work so I’ll only change/be changing major/noticeable grammar problems where/if possible. English teachers beware!
I’m always on the lookout for new hard space fiction stories. I also feel that we’ll be in contact with intelligent aliens within the next 10 years, and this will reshape the future of humanity. As soon as the human race makes contact with aliens, every story ever written that doesn’t contain aliens would seem a bit outdated. It would be like watching old episodes of Alien Nation or Buffy without seeing a mobile phone.
So, please make sure there are some aliens in your story. Even better if your story is written from the aliens’ perspective.
If you’ve written a space fiction story that you’ve had rejected, worked on to improve, sent it to someone else, but then been rejected again and given up on, perhaps you could submit that to me? I might reject it too, but I’m looking for great ideas. If the ideas are great and teaches readers something, but the story just needs a little tweaking, I might be able to help you rewrite it to make it work. (You’ll get the credit, of course!)
If you write in the style of Robert A. Heinlein, Greg Bear, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Clifford D Simak, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Stephen Baxter, Piers Anthony, Cixin Liu or Paul Cornell, and like to research your subject matter before writing, you might have what I’m looking for.
I’ll consider your story and, if it is suitable, offer you a flat rate of US$10.00 (ten dollars) for it, paid by Paypal. Contract example here. (Previous writers, please note new terms) Minimum 3500 words, maximum 4,500 words. If I suddenly get over 400 sales a month for several months, the rate will be reviewed, so please tell your friends about Alien Dimensions!
There are hundreds of publications you can submit to out there. But, if you’re not accepted, most just have time for a short message like ‘I’m sorry but we are unable to accept your story for publication at this time.’ There isn’t much detail about what they want, and they don’t have time to give you much detail why they didn’t accept your story. So, to make up for that, please closely follow the list of things I’m looking for, and the list of things I’m not (above). That way, you can save yourself some time! Even so, as mentioned previously, if your story has some great ideas, I might ignore one or two of the ‘nots’ to let it through.
If you have a story that you think fits the above, and you’re happy for me to use it for US$10, send it to [email protected] as a Word .doc or .docx
If possible, please reformat your story to make it easier for me to read by following William Shunn’s Guide to Proper Manuscript Format (Mainly because I don’t have a submission tracking system. And also, well, it means you’re serious. You’ve probably already got that template set up on your computer and use it all the time.)
Of course, I know US$10 isn’t much in some countries, but it is a way to get something back from a story that you might have given up on, and it gets your name out there. If I ever sell more than 400 copies per issue a month, I’ll be able to cover costs and consider increasing that rate. (Publishing Alien Dimensions is a labor of love, and supported out of my own pocket and any money that comes back from sales, less costs and advertising. Completely non-profit.)
Happy to read your story if you’re a new writer and you think your writing is as good as, if not better than, the writers that have already written for Alien Dimensions. So, if you’ve never submitted before, give it a go!
Looking forward to reading your writing
Quick guide for newbies
1. Prepare your story in the correct file format and attach it to an email
2. Create a short email intro. Example (delete parts that are not relevant):
Attached is my fiction submission (title) approximate word count (x,xxx) for consideration for your next release of Alien Dimensions. This story has not previously been published anywhere, and is not being considered for publication elsewhere.
My PayPal is (Paypal email or link)
If my story is chosen, you’re welcome to use the following bio if needed:
(Name) was born in/lives in (place) and has been writing for (years)
[optional] (Name)’s stories have appeared in (Recent Publication 1) , (Recent Publication 2) and (Recent Publication 3)
You can find out more at (Name)’s (blog/FB page)
(Full Amazon Author Central name / name that you would like your story to be listed under in the publication)
3. Send to [email protected]
4. Allow 3-4 weeks for a reply. Don’t forget to check your spam folder. (And if you’re on a limited sized mailbox, please clear it regularly. I sometimes get ‘mailbox full – cannot be delivered’ when I reply to prolific submitters!)
5. If rejected, don’t despair. Write another one and submit again.
6. If approved, read through the contract carefully to make sure you’re happy with the terms and conditions, then email me with a ‘Yes, I confirm everything is fine’ I will then pay you US$10 for your 3500-4500 word story via Paypal within about 7 days.
7. If your story is chosen, within about a week of the issue being released in both digital and print formats, I will email you a free pdf of the issue that your story appears in. Your bio details, in various forms, may also appear on the website, Amazon and other areas to help promote the book.
Wishing you all the best.
P.S. 2. Still reading? Fantastic! One of the things that always scared me about submitting a story is that I really didn’t know what kind of rejection I would get. One time I got a yelling, screaming hissy fit rejection email with some words in caps from a stressed editor about how unsuitable my idea was for his series. He had zombies, spies with impossible tech, and other weird stories in his series, but he absolutely freaked at the pseudoscience of a smaller Earth in the past in a time travel story. (My story had been influenced by this video – Expanding Earth Theory)
I swore to never do that to any writer. Everyone is learning, everyone is working hard on improving, and you deserve a respectful reply, even if I don’t find your story suitable.
However, sometimes I get stories that are really unsuitable which suggests the writer may not have considered most of my guidelines. You know, I’m sure we’ve all done it, randomly chosen from the slush pile and sent it in, forgetting to reread it first to see if it is suitable. If your story doesn’t fit, but it would take me a long time to explain why, I’ll send you this kind of reply. Don’t despair, though. Try again!
I’ve put this rejection below so, if you’re like me and worried what kind of criticism you might get, you’ll know that this is the kind of reply I would send if your story isn’t suitable, so nothing to worry about! So, now you can submit without worrying about what a rejection might look like.
Thank you for submitting your story.
Unfortunately, your short story “________________” was not chosen for publishing in Alien Dimensions.
Please do not take this personally. Alien Dimensions receives a large number of submissions per issue and rejection is a common part of the editorial process. (I have to say no to quite a lot of writers!)
Of course, I would love to have time to provide some detailed feedback but with so many submissions, it’s not possible.
Wishing you all the best with your writing.
Neil A. Hogan
Via: Alien Dimensions.
- About the Author
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!