Monday, February 28, 2011

Transtories antho

  • Antho: Transtories
  • Publisher: Aeon Press
  • Editor(s): Colin Harvey
  • Pay Rate: Minimum £10 per story, possible bonus, plus royalties
  • Response Time: 1 - 2 months - ish
  • Reading Period: March 1st - 31st
  • Description: Stories based on words prefaced by 'Trans' in dictionary, from 'transact' to 'Transylvania' (but this last is not recommended).
  • Submission Guidelines:

NOTE: Author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.

1) What authors do you enjoy, and why does their writing captivate you?
I grew up idolising Roger Zelazny, and to a lesser extent Samuel R. Delany, and I still get a little shiver of anticipation when the occasional magazine or anthology crops up with Robert Silverberg's name in the table of contents.

Right now I'm enjoying Lucius Shepherd for his imagery and use of language; Nancy Kress for her characterization; Jason Sanford for his ideas; Greg Egan for his science. But that's only a smattering of the writers I like to read. And there will be four or five different names tomorrow if you ask me the same question! 

2) What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
I'm not looking for horror, because Aeon Press is covering horror through Box of Delights. Apart from that, I don't really have favourites. I'm hoping that I'll see SF as well as fantasy, and maybe some slipstream—but I read all forms of speculative fiction. 

But the whole point of Transtories is that just as anthologies such as Eclipse, and older ones such as New Dimensions, Orbit and Universe, we're looking for a range of stories with no connection other than that they're good. I want sixteen different submissions, rather than sixteen different versions of the same story.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
All of them. But if I'm doing a regional anthology—as I did before with Dark Spires—then I'll say what I want the location to be. In the absence of that, writers can assume they have a free hand.

But to answer the question, I love Jack Vance's exotic planets, and Lucius Shepherd's use of Central America. Many of my favourite stories are set in more recognizable milieu; an alternate rural Dorset, the bars of New York where a man in the penthouse fights the rhythms of the universe, an isolated hotel on the Maine coast called the House of 31 February, the Sprawl, orbital zaibatsus, the city of Rebma, and London in 1810, where the Dog-faced Man prowls the streets.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
It's more important to me that the author displays control of the tempo of their story, rather than what that pace is. I'm not sure that this counts as pacing, but the best stories start as late as the writer can manage, and finish when the story's done.

5) What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Rounded, believable characters that are consistent. I like to see the protagonist evolve throughout the story rather than change abruptly, or worse, remain static.

6) Is there a specific tone you'd like to set in your publication? What kind of voices grab you and keep you enthralled? Any examples?

I'm completely open-minded about this. There are stories like Bester's 'The Pi Man' and Zelazny's 'This Mortal Mountain' that couldn't be written by anybody but their authors. And then there are stories like Dozois' 'Morning Child' that seem incredibly simple. What I want is for the author to seem invisible, unless like Frederik Pohl in 'Day Million' he's talking to the reader. 

7) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
If the story calls for it, I have no taboos. But I don't want sex or violence in stories for the sake of it—there has to be a reason for it to be present. 

8) What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
I like to see stories where there is not one idea but two, colliding in a nuclear explosion, sparking off one another.

If you read most pro magazines, they will have two or even more ideas, working off one another. As an extreme example, Mike Alexander's 'Ware of the Worlds' deliberately took Wells' War of the Worlds, with its Martian cylinders invading, then added the replicator from Star Trek, but twisted the outcome with a plot development from Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven, and rounded it all off with a denouement reminiscent of Alfred Bester. And all the time he was perfectly in control.

I don't expect all writers to achieve these levels of innovation and control—this was, after all, one of the very best stories of last year, written for a top-paying magazine. But these are the sort of stories that I'd like authors to aspire to.

9) Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Upbeat, although if a downbeat ending is required, and can be justified, I'll accept it. I don't want what some are calling 'Pollyanna-ish stories' where the author has to pull a figurative rabbit out of a hat, to force a happy ending.

10) Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do's or do not's?
Write the story you want to write, rather than what you think I want to see. Surprise me. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself to your limit—I’d sooner have a glorious failure which can be reworked, than a safe, dull story.

For more scoops
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D.L. Snell writes with Permuted Press. He edited Dr. Kim Paffenroth twice, John Dies at the End once, and provided a constructive critique to Joe McKinney on his next major novel after Dead City. You can shoot D.L. Snell in the head at

To reprint this article, please contact D.L. Snell.

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