Taking Submissions: Astral Alien Fiction Second 2024 Window

Submission Window: July 7th – 28th, 2024
Theme: Stories that are told from an alien perspective (See below for more details.)
Payment: $20 per story

Here you will find all you need to send us your stories. We look forward to reading them. As a reminder: we only publish five stories per issue. Magazines like ours generally receive submissions numbering in the hundreds. Don’t be too hard on yourself if we do not take yours. There is a lot of competition and it mostly comes down to individual editor opinion (which is unpredictable and not a reflection of quality of writing necessarily). We know the submission process is hard and we wish you the very best in your writing.

When to Submit

Submissions are open:

  • January 7th–28th (closing at 10pm PST on the 28th)
  • July 7th–28th (closing at 10pm PST on the 28th)

What to Submit

Astral publishes short stories ranging from 1,000–7,000 words. We want stories that are told from an alien perspective. By alien we usually mean extraterrestrial… but other perspectives can also qualify, such as Lovecraftian horrors, plants, bacteria, etc. Send us weird and surreal stories that challenge our notions about ourselves and the universe.

We are, broadly, wanting to read stories from non-humanoid points of view. Submitted stories can feature humans, but the main perspective should be alien or should have a narrative focus that interacts with alien consciousness as much as possible. We imagine most of the stories we will be sent will fall into the science fiction category, but we also welcome horror and fantasy stories (particularly if they are “other world” fantasy stories). If you are unsure if your story fits: send it. Don’t self-censor (so long as you believe there is some legitimate possiblity that we would be interested in the piece given the above statements).

We do accept simultaneous submissions. We do not accept multiple submissions at one time (wait until we pass on a piece before sending another one, please).

Examples of works we like

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem
It is from a human perspective but is largely about understanding the communications of a sentient ocean-like gel covering the majority of a planet
Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
Features human protagonists, but has a heavy focus on communicating with alien visitors that experience time differently from humans (in addition to not sharing human morphology)
Blood Music by Greg Bear
Another great example in which modified lymphocites become sentient and spread throughout the world, working to their own ends. In the story they communicate with humans but have their own goals, views, methods, and ways of being that are alien to the human characters
Network Effect by Martha Wells
Has a great plotline involving alien remains infecting and controlling humans and machines
The Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
The former includes an alien hivemind spread through radiation (?) like a virus to a whole town / the later features a species of sentient fungus trying to use humans—at least in part—for reproductive purposes
H. P. Lovecraft
Many of his stories would qualify. They generally are viewed through the lens of the human observer, but are so alien and disorienting that it definitely fits the bill for us

Most of the above are fairly quiet/cerebral stories. We definitely are open to a wide range of generes and tones, and we would love to read things that deviate from these examples.

What not to Submit

  • Stories edited or generated by “AI”/large language models/etc. We are not interested and will ban anyone that we can firmly identify as having submitted such a work. Additionally, you will need to attest to the lack of “AI” involvement in your piece when signing the publication contract.
  • Reprints. If your story has been published before, we are not the right market for it.
  • Stories revolving around historical figures.
  • Stories that do not feature non-humanoid characters/entities (for example, Yoda from Star Wars, a mermaid or vampire, or the blue people from those Avatar movies would not qualify as alien for our purposes: they are still largely human in design).
  • Holiday stories (no stories about Santa as an insectoid, please).
  • Torture porn/stories where there is nothing but violence for its own sake.
  • We accept sexual material, but we do not accept erotica. There can be sex, but not as the main and only focus of the work.

Rate of Pay

We are able to pay a flat $20 per piece, regardless of length. For pieces on the shorter end of our word count range this amounts to 1–2 cents/word, but clearly diminishes on the higher side of our word count range. We’d love to pay more and hope to someday, but are unable to do so at this time.

Formatting Your Submission

We do not accept hard copy (printed) material. As such, you will be sending a digital file. We do not have too many preferences regarding your formatting, here are they:

  • Please send a: DOC, DOCX, ODT, or RTF document.
  • Use any font at any size you like. We will resize to our preferences as needed.
  • Please include, at a minimum, your e-mail address and the word count in the document.

Sending Us Your Submission

Write to us at [email protected] with the word “submission” somewhere in the subject line. Attach your work, formatted as described above, to the e-mail. We do not accept links to files, including but not limited to google drive, nor do we accept PDF files or stories pasted into the body of the e-mail. Please include a short cover letterin the e-mail containing the story name, the word count, and a short bio. Please do not summarize the story in the e-mail body: we will read the story and do not need a summary. If these instructions are not followed, it is possible that your submission will be passed on unread. Certainly contact us if you are unable to provide all of the needed information in the requested format and we’ll see if we can work something out on a case by case basis if need be.

What next?

We will reply to your submission to let you know that we have received it. If you do not get an e-mail confirmation that we received your story within two weeks of sending (or the final day of the reading period): please reach out and check with us. We will also be in touch by e-mail to let you know if we are passing on your piece, moving your piece to a further reading round, or interested in accepting your piece for publication.

We do ask that you notify us if you have placed your submission elsewhere under a contract that would prevent it from being featured in Astral. In such a case, please include the word “WITHDRAWN” in the subject line. Congrats on your forthcoming publication!

If your submission is deemed a good fit, an offer e-mail will be sent out. Then suggested edits may be worked through, contracts will be signed, and payments will be sent. Nice and simple. Then, at the appointed time, the issue containing your work will be released. Your name (as author of the work), the story, a copyright notice assigned to you (as author of the given work), and an author bio will all be included in the issue.

Via: Astral Alien Fiction.

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