The Australian Literature Review is accepting submissions of 4,000-10,000 word stories for a science-based fiction anthology.
This book is designed to showcase and help develop Australian science-based fiction which is both scientifically rigorous and entertaining.
The stories will be grouped under the headings of:
The Pursuit of Knowledge
– This concerns motivations for seeking knowledge, the joys and challenges of seeking knowledge, rivalry for knowledge, how to determine what is knowledge and what is falsehood or what is knowable and what is unknowable, etc
– This concerns accurately explaining an observation in a way that was formerly unknown (formerly unknown to anyone, or formerly unknown to a particular person). There may be some overlap in subject matter between Discovery and Pursuit of Knowledge or Implications but the Discovery stories should each have a major focus on a profoundly new and accurate explanation of an observation; not just an attempt at a discovery or the consequences following a discovery. This could involve a person working towards making a breakthrough, trying to convince others of their breakthrough so the knowledge will be applied or recognised, the sacrifices someone makes to test or publicly demonstrate a theory, etc. The discovery should be shown in the present of the story; not told as backstory.
– This concerns the implications of knowledge, side-effects of how people react to a new discovery, the application of scientific knowledge to important tasks, etc. This could involve anything from unintended consequences of a discovery, people competing for control of specific knowledge and its application, the positive benefits knowledge brings to someone who discovers it or to others, different ways in which the same discovery is applied and how they clash, applied ethics and the morality of using knowledge in specific ways, etc.
3-4 stories are being sought for each of the above headings. Each author will receive royalties of 4.5-6% of net revenue (gross revenue minus direct costs of production and distribution) from sales of the anthology, depending on the final number of authors.
The stories can be historical fiction based around a recorded discovery, contemporary or near-future fiction based around a hypothetical new discovery, the personal story of the impact of a person gaining and applying scientific knowledge in their own life (such as a contemporary Australian child becoming aquainted with some of the wonders of the universe; a Spanish adult from 500 years ago learning about construction, mechanics, chemistry or how to navigate an ocean journey by the stars; a pacific islander learning about buoyancy, mechanics, woodcraft, light refraction through water, etc and applying that in their boating, fishing and recreation; a Sumerian several thousand years ago using mathematics for land management or map-making, etc), a story in which the narrator uses a scientifically informed (and entertaining) style of narration, etc.
The stories should be scientifically informed as well as accessible to a wide readership.
The science should be an integrated part of a compelling story. People should enjoy the story; not tolerate the story because of an interest in the story’s basis in science.
The stories should be suitable for adults and teenagers.
Early tips and guidance:
Questions are welcome in the comments section of this post.
Authors are invited to submit their work in progress by midnight Oct 31st 2011 and an article on general tips and guidance for story submissions will be posted at 6pm Nov 4th, based on what comes in by Oct 31st.
Close of submissions:
Submissions are due by midnight Dec 31st 2011.
Shortlisted authors each refine their story during Jan 2012:
Each shortlisted authors will receive feedback on their story and be invited to take part in a private Facebook group for the month of January to discuss, workshop and refine their story. Editor Steve Rossiter and perhaps some guest novelists, editors and/or experts in relevant scientific fields will also contribute to the discussions.
Final line up announcement:
The final line up to be published in the science-based fiction anthology will be announced at 8pm on Feb 1st 2012.
The selected authors each work with an editor on their story during Feb 2012:
Each author selected for the book will work with editor Steve Rossiter on their story (in person and/or online, depending on location) and perhaps receive some input from guest experts.
The book will be published for release in May 2012.
WHAT IS MEANT BY SCIENCE?
The word science is used in a range of ways and is the subject of much debate, and therefore any definition of science is susceptible to miscomprehension unless accompanied by a longer explanation, so here is an indication of what is meant by science here:
Science is knowledge and the gaining and use of knowledge.
Science is NOT a set of traditions or a set of associations with the word ‘science’ (the same goes for knowledge).
Science is not following the conclusions of people referred to as scientists.
Science is not deferring judgment to people with the highest ranking, formal qualifications or job positions (whatever the means of determining such a rank).
Incompetent pursuit of knowledge is not science. Claiming to know the unknowable is not science.
Science involves a person (or any living entity capable of thought) observing and explaining their observations to the best of their ability. Good science is the best explanation of observations. Bad science (or speculation, myth, faith, or untestable or ill-defined hypotheses) involves attempted explanations which are wrong or for which there are other explanations which are just as plausible or more plausible.
No-one will ever know absolutely everything there is to know about something but people are capable of knowing things to within certain degrees of accuracy.
The following are some scientific subject areas and an indication of what they involve:
Physics – the stuff of the universe and how it works
Applied Mathematics – descriptive reference to the stuff of the universe
Chemistry – different types of stuff in the universe and how they work
Biology – living entities and how they work (literally living entitities; not metaphorically living ones, such as in the way some people talk about a ‘living language’ or a ‘living community’)
Psychology – human behaviour (including thought) and how it works
Ethology – animal behaviour (including human) and how it works
Geology – the planet Earth and how it works
Planetary Science – planets and how they work
Astronomy – the universe and how it works
Mechanics – human-made inventions and how they work
Language can be used to refer to (though not necessarily to represent/re-present/model) things realting to any of the above fields and any other fields someone might care to define.
What is often called sociology tends to be very speculative and dependent on untested, untestable or ill-defined theories, but sociology (understood as multi-person psychology) can be based in science – although observations will typically only be explanable in very broad ranges of accuracy.
Similarly, what is often called philosophy (which roughly translates as ‘love of knowledge’) often has more to do with speculation and faith than knowledge but (understood as the love of knowledge or the pursuit of knowledge) philosophy can be an early step in gaining knowledge.
Ultimately, everything is physics but people don’t have knowledge of sufficient accuracy to explain many things physically (such as why two chemicals react the way they do when combined or how a person thinks) and resort to using less accurate means of describing the stuff of the universe and how it works (such as methods used for chemistry, biology, psychology, etc).
The Australian Literature Review