New series of Science Fiction shorts on the web

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The volunteer-run science fiction review website The Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation has teamed up with the leading multi-disciplinary science journal Nature to reproduce some of its short stories. Nature is best known for the publication of cutting edge science research papers. Less well known is that each week its inside back page carries a short science fiction story written by a professional SF author, science writer or research scientist. This series of SF Futures stories has won a European (Eurocon) SF Awards from the European SF Society in 2005. There are 51 of these a year but unless you subscribe to Nature you may not easily be able to see these remarkable works. However now, once a season (spring, summer and autumn), a story will be posted on the The Science Fact & Fiction Concatenation website.

This service is being launched at Easter with the posting of four stories to cover 2005 seasons and this spring. These are:

  • ”What’s expected of us” by Ted Chiang
    Sending signals through time is fun but there is a down side…
  • ”Are we not men” by Henry Gee
    It turns out that the human family is quite large…
  • ”Perchance to dream” by Robert A. Metzger
    Out of sight, out of mind. Reality and illusion can catch up with you when old…
  • ”Maxo signals” by Charles Stross
    There is a new and unfortunate solution to the Fermi paradox. The aliens are there but better not return their call.

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  1. Futures is the award-winning science-fiction section of Nature, now currently running in Nature’s monthly sister title, Nature Physics.

    In response to public demand, Futures will be returning to Nature in September 2007as a weekly back-page feature, as well as continuing each month in Nature Physics. The Futures column in each journal will forge its own identity: a story in one journal will not be reprinted in the other, although authors are free to express a preference and choose for which journal their story should be considered.

    Although contributions are sometimes commissioned, unsolicited stories are welcome for both journals. Each story should be an entirely fictional, self-contained piece between 850-950 words in length, and the genre should, broadly speaking, be ‘hard’ (that is, ‘scientific’ SF) rather than, say, outright fantasy, slipstream or horror.

    Each item should be sent as a Word (.doc) attachment to futures@nature.com, giving full contact details along with a brief (approximately 30-word) autobiographical squib that could be appended to the story if published. Unsolicited artwork is not considered. Presubmission enquiries are discouraged: instead, prospective authors are advised to read earlier Futures stories in Nature, Nature Physics and selected examples available for free at http://www.concatenation.org/futuresindex.html.

    Authors whose stories are published in Nature or Nature Physics will be paid at the same rate irrespective of journal. The payment is commensurate with the brevity of the stories and is probably enough for a meal for two (with wine) at an establishment whose modesty will correlate either directly or inversely with the current sterling-dollar exchange rate, depending on the location of the restaurant. Publication is also subject to signature of a Nature Publishing Group author agreement, terms of which are often negotiable, and specimens of which can be seen on request.

    Should you have read as far as this, you might be interested to learn that Futures from Nature, an anthology of 100 past Futures stories, will be published by Tor this November, and can now be ordered from any reputable online bookstore.

    This is a public announcement which you are encouraged to disseminate as widely as you see fit.

    Yours faithfully

    Henry Gee

    Dr Henry Gee
    Senior Editor, Biological Sciences, Nature

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