Friday, February 10, 2012

Steampunk Cthulhu antho

  • Antho: Steampunk Cthulhu
  • Editor(s): Brian M. Sammons & Glynn Owen Barrass
  • Pay Rate: 3¢ / word + 3 contributor copies
  • Response Time: variable 
  • Reading Period: now until July 31
  • Description: The age of steam meets the age of Cthulhu, in a past where technology unbound warps Victorian Britain and the world at large into a dark Steampunk reality.
  • 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?

GB: Gawd there are so many… let’s see now! Two favourites: Raymond Chandler, because of his attention to detail and the rawness of his prose, and of course, H.P. Lovecraft, so rich with imagination and darkness, I couldn’t imagine a world without his sinister vision.

BMS: Lovecraft, for his original vision of horror. Stephen King for being the first author of adult books I ever read and introducing me to the joys of reading. Robert Bloch and Joe R. Lansdale for doing both bleak horror and black comedy so well. Richard Matheson for being the most consistently good and enjoyable over such a long career. And I can’t forget Robert E. Howard for his manly badassery. 

2) What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?

GB: My genres, cyberpunk, and horror, for the most part. For this book, with immense clues in the title, we want to see the Cthulhu Mythos mixed with Steampunk, and are quite happy to see elements of fantasy, sci-fi, and even comedy within the subs.

BMS: Horror first and foremost, with various flavours of sci-fi and the occasional sword and sorcery fantasy, as long as it’s not too cute and fluffy. As for what I’d like to see for this book, a real blend of Lovecraftian nihilistic and inescapable horror with the often “future is bright” feel of steampunk. Also, I’d like to see some tales outside of the Victorian Britain setting.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
GB: I very much like alternate reality settings, whether it be past, present or future. Imagination can really soar when the world and reality have no boundaries.

BMS: I go through cycles. I’ll be into historical fiction for a while and then switch to something futuristic. However I always return to stories set in the modern world where reality clashes with the horrific or fantastic. 

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
GB: Any really, though it is good sometimes to read something slow paced, that suddenly goes ‘boom’ at a mile a minute near the end.

BMS: While arguments can be made for any type of story, the majority of short stories I really like are fast paced. I like the sense of action they impart. Conversely when it comes to novels or horror movies, I prefer creeping dread. Yeah that’s weird, I know.

5) What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?

GB: Those that feel helpless against an overpowering Evil/Government/Religion, but fight back nonetheless. Doomed protagonists also read very well in a story.

BMS: I always like strong capable characters that nonetheless come up against things they just can’t overcome. It’s the whole feeling of yeah, you might be a bad ass (in whatever field) but compared to this you’re still nothing.

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?

GB: Dark for the most part, dystopian too. Steampunk tales in a grimy, polluted world with nothing shiny but the glint in the antagonist’s eye.

BMS: I’d be happy to run the gambit. From a few (but only a few) silly, humorous tales to the darkest, most feel bad stories imaginable, and everything in between. As long as it’s 100% steampunk and 100% Lovecraftian (or would that be 50% of both?) I’ll be happy.

7) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?

GB: Swears are okay, as long as they are part of the story, but I don’t see our protagonists lowering themselves to such vulgarities. Violence, no problem where it is a necessary part of the story and not gratuitous. And sex… nothing X-Rated.

BMS: I’m fine with vulgarity; it’s a form of expression I’m fairly familiar with, as long as it’s warranted. Violence, I like violent horror. While not essential to tell a good story, I grew up in the 1980s reading plenty of splatterpunk. Sex, as long as it’s not just tossed in to be titillating and nothing more, I’m fine with it. As for taboos, for me it would be the victimization and sexualisation of children. No one wants to read that, and if you do, then this is not the book for you.

8) What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?

GB: Again, darkness in the Steampunk world, sinister conspiracies and things beyond comprehension breaking through into our reality.

BMS: Technology mixed with black magic or just going too far. Famous characters (fictional or real) from the era would be a good addition, as long as there’s a solid reason for them to be in the story. Perhaps pulpy adventure mixed with the darkest horror. 

9) Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?

GB: Either, and if it’s downbeat for the heroes and upbeat for the bad guys, that’s fine! The protagonist discovering the hopelessness of the human condition in the face of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos would be a good (but not totally necessary) ending to a Steampunk Cthulhu tale.

BMS: Either, but if I had to lean one way or the other, I’d lean toward downbeat. Not only does it feel more Lovecraftian to me, but I think too many of today’s horror stories have happy endings.

10) Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do's or do not's?

GB: DO NOT pay lip service to the Mythos, as in throwing in a few names here and there just to make something Cthulhu Mythos when it’s not. We want the stories rich with the elements of both genres, blended seamlessly.

BMS: Let me stress that again, DO NOT play lip service to the Lovecraftian element. I’ve recently put together a number of Lovecraftian anthologies and you’d be surprised how many authors think that namedropping Cthulhu or the Necronomicon is sufficient. Well it’s not. The same should be said about the steampunk genre. If you’re not completely comfortable with one side of this genre blending experiment or the other, it will show. 

For more scoops, go to

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

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

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