The first month of subs: summing up

The reading period has now been open for one month – the first of three. During that time I’ve received thirty submissions. There’s been a pleasant mix of approaches to Rocket Science‘s theme so far, and only two stories which ignored it completely. The non-fiction I’ve received has also been quite varied, ranging from pop science to science fiction criticism to personal space-related experiences. The quality has generally been high.

Having said that, I’d like to point out that Rocket Science is looking for “authentic and realistic” science fiction, and I’m serious about that. I need to know you’ve done your research, that you know what you’re writing about, that it’s right. So if your story is set on, say, Mimas, then I expect you to know how large Saturn will appear in its sky. And if you’re writing about an existing spacecraft, you need to get the details absolutely correct because I’ll know if you don’t – I read books on the subject (see here). I’m also fully prepared to look something up if I’m not convinced by the way it’s presented in a submission.

Happily, only a small number of submitted stories have contained details I didn’t find convincing. That’s not, I hasten to add, a deal-breaker: if I really like a piece, but have trouble with some of its details, then a rewrite is not out of the question. But only if I specifically ask for one. If I reject a story and explain why I’ve done so, I don’t want it to be “fixed” and then resubmitted.

Speaking of which, to date I’ve bought three stories for the anthology: by Stephen Gaskell, Sam Klepfield and Deborah Walker. I have a few more I’m hanging onto for a second reading – both fiction and non-fiction. But there’s still two months to go before the reading period ends, so keep them coming.

Finally, I thought it might prove interesting to give an indication of the content of the stories submitted so far, as regards setting and gender and nationality of the protagonists. They break down like this:


The Moon has proven the most popular place off-Earth, though one of the stories set in interplanetary space was en route to Mars. Only two of the exoplanets were explicitly named – i.e., are the planets of real stars. The remainder were simply alien worlds. The various moons of Jupiter have also proven quite popular.

While many of the stories featured a good mix of genders, this graph shows only the gender of the main character or narrator. Over two-thirds, as you can see, were male.

Quite a few of the stories didn’t explicitly state the nationality of the main character although, judging by the names, White European/American seems to be the default. Some stories, however, made more of an effort to diversify their cast. Again, the nationalities above are for the narrator or main character(s), rather than every nationality which might appear in a story.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “The first month of subs: summing up

  1. Shouldn’t “Europe” be “Europa” on the ‘locations’ chart?

    Thanks for these charts, btw, they’re really interesting. How about doing one on the breakdown of story type (rescue, 1st contact, etc)?

    Colum

  2. As regards numbers of submissions, have you seen this chart for the Machine of Death anthology (vol 1 & vol2)?

    Colum

  3. Deborah

    Those MoD stats are scary. I’m glad I got my Rocket Science sub in early. Hopefully, Ian, you’ll see a difference as you’re responding quickly to subs, and MoD decided to wait until after the deadline. So some writers would have held onto their subs until the last minute. But, yikes.

    • I did consider waiting until the end of the reading period before making a decision on the submissions I’d been sent, but I didn’t think that was fair to the writers. It would mean I’d only see a single piece of work from each person. But if I turned over submissions quickly, writers could have several goes. And just because I bounce one story that doesn’t mean that one of that person’s subsequent submission might not get into the anthology – as, in fact, is the case for one writer. The same has happened to me from the other end – the first story I submitted to Allen Ashley’s Catastrophia anthology was rejected, but he bought the second story I sent him.

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