Sword and Mythos Guidelines

Sword and Mythos is an anthology paying professional rates (5 cents per word) looking for short fiction of up to 5,000 words which combines the pulp genres of Cthulhu Mythos and sword and sorcery.

What we want

Sword and Mythos. This includes any element of the Cthulhu Mythos (creatures such as shoggoths, characters like the King in Yellow, locations like Leng) combined with sword and sorcery (heroic fantasy). Stories can be told from the viewpoint of sorcerers or other non-traditional heroic characters, although fighters with brawn and brains will also be accepted.

We are looking for a variety of settings and characters (Yes, we are GLBT-friendly). Although much sword and sorcery has utilized a proto-European setting, we’d like to see stories that take place in settings inspired by Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Prehispanic, and other cultures. We will accept secondary world stories and stories set in historical settings with magical elements. For example, Robert E. Howard set his Mythos-inspired “Worms of the Earth” in real-life Great Britain.

We might also consider some sword and planet stories. But no copyrighted characters, please. We can’t afford the lawsuits.

There are many famous sword and sorcery male characters, but we’d also like to see women hacking tentacles. Or summoning Mythos creatures.

Overall, we want to be surprised and inspired to read beyond the first page.

Scenarios which might be fun:

  • A Mayan warrior faces Cthulhu’s own daughter, Cthylla.
  • A crafty thief steals more than she bargained for when she takes a statuette from a Tamil temple.
  • A Kurdish mercenary is hired to rescue the son of a rich merchant from the clutches of a sorcerer in medieval Cairo.
  • An acolyte of Dagon grows tired of his job and seeks new thrills.
  • The sacrificial virgin procured for a certain ceremony proves to be adept at survival.
  • A Maori warrior in the South Pacific fights thawed-out shoggoths from sunken R’lyeh.
  • A Wampanoag builds a stone circle to unspeakable entities, in order to beat back European settlers.
  • A Malian warrior teams up with a shaman in Timbuktu to fight a Black Pharoah from Egypt.
  • In the late Parthian Empire, a pahlavan warrior and a Zoroastrian priestess investigate an alchemist who is raising the dead.
  • Pearl divers hire samurai to fight an undersea race of carnivorous creatures.

Payment

Sword and Mythos pays 5 cents per word. We are asking for First English Anthology Rights. Because we are a very small press, we don’t pay royalties. We do, however, offer to buy the stories on a non-exclusive basis.

Each contributor will receive two physical copies of the anthology and an e-book copy. More copies can be purchased at a discounted rate.

Story length is up to 5,000 words.

Reprints will be considered. Flat fee of $50 paid for reprints.

Submitting

  • E-mail us at innsmouthfp AT gmail.com. Subject line: Sword, [Title of your Story, Author's Name].
  • Do not send more than one short story.
  • Include a cover letter with the story word count, salient writing credits and any reprint information (if applicable). Yes, we do read cover letters, so include the information.
  • Attach story as an RTF or Word document. Use standard manuscript format. Italics as italics, bold as bold. No fancy fonts.
  • Stories can be sent in English, French, or Spanish.
  • Submissions are accepted from January 15 to February 15, 2013. Do not send anything before or after that date. If you do, we will ignore it.
  • Final story selection will take place in the spring of 2013. Check back for updates.

Additional Information

If you want to learn more about sword and sorcery, you can read the Jirel of Joiry stories, some of Clark Ashton Smith’s short fiction, Charles Saunders’ Imaro and Dossouye compilations, some of the Elric books, Leigh Brackett’s Mars stories, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Mouser stories, Tanith Lee’s White Witch series, Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger and Del series, Joanna Russ’ Alyx stories, the anthologies Heroic Visions, Sword and Sorceress, Amazons!, Liavek, and Thieves’ World, as well as the magazine, Black Gate. You can also check out Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft’s multitude of stories, in addition to Harold Lamb and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Keep in mind that pulp sensibilities do not mean pulp stereotypes. We want new takes on the genre, not pastiches or unquestioning homages. Hoary tropes like one-dimensionally exotic savages and rape&revenge will be a hard sell. And we like the original smart and ferocious version of Conan a whole lot better than the later dumb and musclebound comics version.

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IFPSword and Mythos Guidelines