Shineanthology’s Weblog

An anthology of optimistic, near future SF

SHINE Anthology Guidelines

SHINE is an anthology of optimistic near-future SF, edited by Jetse de Vries, published by Solaris Books, and is planned for an early 2010 release.

Keywords:

Convincing and optimistic: Imagine that we are the biggest skeptics on the planet, then show us how things can change for the better, and persuade us.

Near-future: from now until 50 years later.

SF: we’re not going to define it. Write what you think is SF, and convince us with the story.

The Gritty:

Length: up to 10k words (not hard, but anything longer than 10k should be mind-blowingly superb).

Payment: 5 cents a word, on publication (and probably a pro rata share of the anthologist’s earnings: I’m working on that)

Genres: science fiction only. I greatly prefer original stories, but I will — like Baen’s Universe — look at stories that have been published in markets that are not professional by SFWA standards, or markets with a relatively small reach. I also consider Interzone, Black Static, Postscripts, Futurismic, Apex Digest and Flurb to be either professional markets or markets with a wide reach (or both), so don’t want to see stories published by them, either.

Rights: First World English Rights, non-exclusive world anthology rights, non-exclusive audio anthology rights, and further subsidiary rights specified in my boilerplate [author-anthologist contract], which I’ll put up after I return from World Fantasy. NOTE: obviously, for eventual reprints the first world rights will become anthology rights, first if possible.

Reading Period: May, June and July 2009

Response Time: Most rejections will be sent out quickly, while I will hold over stories that I like until July 31, when a final decision is made. No multiple submissions, please: only one story per author, and only submit a second one if I expressly ask for it. Simultaneous submissions: at your own discretion, but keep in mind that I will not fight over a story, that is, if it’s with another publisher I will drop it like a ton of bricks.

Submissions Instructions: send your story, preferably single-spaced and in rich text format (RTF) to shineanthology@gmail.com. Put Submission: “Title of your story” in the email’s subject line.

12 Comments»

  Ken Schneyer wrote @

Nice idea.

Would you object to a really sad story told in an optimistic future?

  stonetable.org » Week in review wrote @

[…] in the middle of all that, I’ll be working on stories for the upcoming Federations and Shine anthologies. Lots of hard work ahead but I’m looking forward to it. We picked up some new […]

  shineanthology wrote @

Hi Ken,

‘A really sad story told in an optimistic future.’

Hard to say. It depends.

Roughly speaking, if the sad story is to illustrate that the optimistic future isn’t really optimistic at all — a bit like a party disrupted by an uninvited guest, or clouds over paradise — then that would be a hard, if not impossible, sell.

What I’m looking for is for stories where the progress is hard-fought against the background of a troubled society rather than an optimistic future that came around easily (even too easily) — like through somebody inventing cheap, easy-to-reproduce tabletop fusion that solves our energy problems overnight — meaning the change was only a technological fix and not a ground shift in our mentality. The former represents hope, the latter merely a Pyrrhic victory.

Not saying that the former is a bad story (it can be really good: all depending on the execution of the concept), but not what I’m really looking for. Basically, I’d rather see the first, very difficult but hopeful step towards a better tomorrow than the end result (especially if it doesn’t show how we got there). In fiction, the road is often much more interesting than the final destination.

Nevertheless: it depends. I’d need more info, or look at the story itself.

  Ken Schneyer wrote @

Thanks for the response. We were speaking to cross-purposes. I meant sad for the characters in the story, not necessarilly for the “world” or “future” in which the story takes place. I don’t have a story written for this anthology yet, but most of my stories involve dramatic difficulties for the characters themselves, and whether they end “well” (for the characters) is sometimes a matter of opinion.

If you’re looking for stories about the “hard-fought” progress itself, then I’m probably not your guy. I’d be much more interested in the individual people, and if the progress was “good,” then my instinct would be to make the outcome of the plot “tragic” in some way for the individuals involved, even (especially!) in light of a “good” outcome for society as a whole.

See, most definitions of “progress” are societal in scope: productivity increases, or pollution decreases, or the standard of living improves, or world hunger is reduced, or overpopulation ceases to be a problem, or statistical measures of social utility increase, etc., etc. It never (it can’t really) mean individual improvement for each and every person in the society.

So if we had a society that was really “better” by any one of those measures, my instinct, as an artist, would be to find the individual for whom it didn’t work. S/he’d be an exception, necessarily — that that’s what would make him/her (and the story) interesting.

  shineanthology wrote @

Hi Ken,

We’re indeed talking at cross-purposes a bit here, so it’s good to get a clearer idea of what you’re thinking of.

No need to write about the (preferably) hardfought progress itself: that can linger in the background, be a part of the (new) scenery.

Also, it’s definitely true that any form of progress has its (partial) winners or (partial) losers: each improvement comes with a price tag, and one hopes (and tries to assure) that the benefits outweigh the costs.

What you have in mind could certainly work: so do feel free to try me with it. I certainly need different approaches to give the anthology a certain variety and diversity.

Finally, on the one hand I try to limit a writer’s artistic freedom as little as possible; while on the other hand I need stories that work within the remit of the anthology. It’s a balancing act, and I’m quite happy both getting and answering queries like yours.

Success with your writing!

  Sergey Gerasimov wrote @

What do you prefer:
1) hard science fiction or character-driven science fiction?
2) action-adventure SF or something like Strange Horizons publishes? Do you hate twists?

And what do you think about humour?

  shineanthology wrote @

Hi Sergey,

1) Both.

I like the scientific concepts or technological ideas to be well-worked out, but I also like great characters striving for the near-impossible. Ideally, both technological progress and strong personalities interact fervently with each other: for example a lot of technological innovation can be driven by political choices (Germany’s energy policies driving a wave of green technologies, for example), or innovative entrepreneurs can drive technological change (Silicon Valley, for example).

Thus, a combination of the two would be ideal. Top it off with superb prose and a highly compelling narrative and you’ve got a winner. Obviously, if either hard SF or charater-driven SF is not your forte then try to emphasize your strong point without neglecting the other.

2) No preference: I both like an exciting adventure and post-modern, slipstreamish musings of relationships in the near future. I believe that style follows content, that is: know what the story really is about, and then try to find the best form to present the substance.

For example, I can imagine an action/adventure story where the (anti-)heroine/hero does research into the last remaining Arctic ice shelfs and is almost killed by a starving polar bear, runs into ice-breaking tankers searching for the last oil reserves, winds up in a demonstration battle between Greenpeace activists trying to keep cruise liners full of tourists from visiting the last pristine remains of the melting ice caps, concluded with a Canadian coast guard vessel chasing away trespassing Japanese or Norwegean whalers.

Similarly, I can imagine a slightly offbeat, slippery piece about a future internet investigator who tries to juggle a research into overpopulation and economic wellbeing — which old-style corporations try to suppress — with raising adopted kids in a single sex relationship, where her/his partner complains about being neglected and the incessant need to do volunteer work in the local charity shop.

What works, works: some stories are better told in a direct, thrilling way while other stories work best with sly, post-modern smile. A story’s content, theme and message determine style, and good storytelling tops almost everything.

Also, I’m looking for variety in this anthology: while I do want stories that are optimistic and near future SF, I do really want great diversity within that remit. I’ll gladly pulish and action adventure piece where the hero takes on Global Warming next to a thoughtful depiction of gender equality under technological change, as long as (I think) they both *work*.

2) Do I hate twists? I hate twists when the come out of the blue, or are deus ex machinae. A twist can work well if it is both subtly and carefully foreshadowed, making it both inevitable and a surprise. As in the reader didn’t quite see it coming on the surface, but in the end — and in retrospect — the twist was both foreseeable and inevitable. It is very hard to do this right, but the rewards are similarly great.

Humour: I love humour. Keep in mind that humour is greatly dependent on taste, and extremely hard to do well (the old adage ‘Dying is easy, comedy is hard’ is not far from the truth).

As mentioned, I do want variety in this antho, so would certainly welcome a humourous story that fits within the guidelines. I’m certainly not looking for relentless Polyannas with no sense of humour. Let your characters fight for a better tomorrow, but also let them be aware of the often ironic and self-contradictory nature of their goals and actions. If humour is not your strong point, then often it works better in small and subtle doses. Having said that, an all-out devastating satire of people trying to do their worst (or best) with very counterproductive and/or funny side effects (think This Is Spinal Tap) would be welcome, too.

Apart from the anthology’s theme of optimistic, near future SF I don’t want to limit an author’s creativity and imagination. If the theme inspires you, write what you think works best with passion and precision.

[…] want around and then destroy it. And thank God we got rid of “it.” I think the Shine Anthology is seeking to help us imagine some creative solutions–and I still encourage you to submit. […]

  Bill Starr wrote @

How about an ecological disaster story told from the other side?
A green advocacy group trying to help nature with a new formula releases forces that could destroy civilization. An agent of a large energy company infiltrates the group in a desperate effort to avert catastrophe.

  shineanthology wrote @

Hi Bill,

A benign energy company? Interesting.

It surely sounds interesting, and I’ll gladly look at it, with the caveat — obviously — that it should have an upbeat tone or ending.

[…] Do refresh your mind with the guidelines here. […]

  Tony Schaab wrote @

Jetse,

GREAT website you have here! I discovered it only last week, and quite by accident at that, but I love what you have done and what I have seen so far.

I am amazingly glad that you have extended the deadline for anthology submissions. I have immediately started working on a new story, and hope to have it submitted to you in the next few weeks.

Cheers!

–Tony


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