Something strange is happening in speculative fiction. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, its the very nature of a genre that encapsulates elements of sci-fi, literary fiction, crime, and even romance. But, recently, it has become increasingly fragmented and diverse, while simultaneously being more distilled and focused.
It would be easy to trace this trend back to the start of the current pandemic when we all started questioning everything. But, the truth is that speculative fiction has always been in a state of flux. Fads, fashions, and fusions come and go, and you need to have your finger on the pulse to keep abreast of new developments. Now, with mass publishing becoming easier and more cost-effective, we are seeing more markets than ever before catering for increasingly defined, specialist tastes.
One of the niche areas within speculative fiction that has exploded in popularity is alternate history, also known as alternative history, and abbreviated to alt history, althist, and sometimes simply AH. Another related term is uchronia, which is based on the Greek terms ‘ou’ and ‘chronos’ meaning ‘no/not’ and ‘time’ respectively. The accepted definition given by the Collins English Dictionary is, “a genre of fiction in which the author speculates on how the course of history might have been altered if a particular historical event had a different outcome.”
The appeal is obvious. Don’t we all sometimes yearn to change history? To go back and do things differently? Well, now we can!
In the fictional worlds we create, anything is possible. What would have happened if JFK hadn’t been assassinated that fateful day in Dallas? Would the world we now live in have turned out any differently? What if Hitler’s Germany had won the war? Or, what if the dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out? Or Elvis Presley had gone on a diet, and taken fitness classes?
If we let our imagination run wild, the possibilities are endless. The past is full of plots and sub-plots to riff off. Here are some markets currently seeking alternative history submissions:
Beneath Ceaseless Skies is seeking stories with a secondary-world setting and some fantasy feel, but written with a literary approach and set, “on earth but an earth different from our modern-day primary world in terms of time or history.” They pay 0.08 USD per word for original fiction, and prefer stories under 15,000 words.
Strange Horizons is a weekly online magazine which notes that, “speculative fiction has a vibrant and radical tradition of stories that can make us think, can critique society, and can show us how it could be otherwise, for better or worse.” Pays 0.10 USD for original fiction up to 10,000 words. No multiple or simultaneous submissions, or reprints.
New online magazine The Antihumanist pays 0.05 USD per word for flash fiction (under 1000 words) that challenges human-centred narratives, forces us to confront our place in the universe, and makes us question: Who are we? Why are we here? Is there a purpose?
The Colored Lens was created to showcase stories that “shift our perspective on the world” and pays 0.01 USD per word for flash and 0.02 per word for stories up to 2000 words. Longer pieces are considered, but no multiple or simultaneous submissions, or reprints are accepted.
The ezine GigaNotoSaurus, named after an actual dinosaur, seeks fiction featuring a variety of settings, styles, viewpoints and backgrounds. They publish a story a month and pay $100 on acceptance for stories between 5000 and 25,000 words.
Penumbric speculative fiction mag is looking for stories featuring, “the strange, the bizarre, that which is not of the world we know, but more of a twilight realm.” Pays $10 and, if your work is included in a regular accompanying anthology, they’ll pay you royalties, too.
Anathema‘s slogan is “spec fic from the margins,” so this tri-annual online publication has a limited demographic, and is especially interested in seeing work that has been difficult to place because of content or perspective. Pays $100 CAD for fiction up to 6000 words and $50 CAD for poetry. No reprints.
- 8 New(ish) Paying Speculative Fiction Markets for Writers! – by Avery Springwood
- 5 Paying Flash Fiction Markets for Writers – by Avery Springwood
- 4 Paying Fiction Podcast Markets for Writers! – by Chris Saunders
- 6 Novella-Length Science Fiction and Fantasy Paying Markets for Writers – by Avery Springwood
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