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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31 Comments on “Sword and Mythos Guidelines”

  1. Lane Adamson

    It should be noted that Marvel’s early CONAN–most especially the Roy Thomas/Barry Smith iteration–was neither dumb nor musclebound. The muscles came with the John Buscema artwork; the dumbing-down started with the Schwarzenegger film.

    1. Paula R. Stiles

      I was thinking more along the lines of the damage L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter did when I put that in. The first Conan movie is a camp classic, but you’re right that he’s too dumb for the original character (An original Valeria-type character, though, would be welcome).

      Many S&S fans don’t know Howard’s version at all. Unfortunately.

      1. Paula R. Stiles

        I’m not sure how much time Silvia has spent on the genre, but keep in mind that I read a *lot* of S&S in my misspent youth, and played a lot of herofy RPGs, so derivative is not going to cut it. I won’t be arrogant and say I’ve seen it all (I sure hope someone in the slush will surprise and please me), but I’ve seen more than enough to be dissatisfied with pastiches or your average D&D fantasy.

  2. Alex F

    Assuming this is the right place to ask…

    Just to confirm, are you specifically seeking stories with explicit references to existing Mythos elements (shoggoths, Leng)? As opposed to, say, stories that use Mythos-style cosmic horror elements without linking explicitly into Lovecraft’s work?

    (So while, say, some of the Conan stories or Moore’s “Black God’s Kiss” might be right in terms of tone and ideas, they wouldn’t be appropriate here?)

    1. Paula R. Stiles

      Alex, if you look at what we publish, you’ll see that we like a broad approach to Mythos. You can check out our recent Sword and Sorcery Week for more discussion of how we see Mythos elements in the Conan and Jirel of Joiry stories. Suffice it to say that we consider “Queen of the Black Coast” and at least some of the Jirel series to be solidly Mythos. We would rather see you explore Lovecraftian themes without explicitly referencing the Mythos than just namedrop Lovecraft monsters in an unoriginal pastiche.

  3. Luikki

    “Stories can be sent in English, *French, or Spanish.*”

    Vraiment? En francais aussi? Que dire? Formidable. A bientôt, donc.

  4. Marissa J

    Sounds like this will be a fun anthology! I’m curious, though; the story I’ve got has a lot of S&S in it, while the main character is not strictly in one of those S&S categories you mention above (not a Warrior, Priest, Sorcerer, per se). Does she have to be one of these for the story to be acceptable, or is an S&S adventure enough?

    Thanks!

  5. Michael Kamp

    Great project. :)

    I’m doing a female necromantic trying to boost her power through an artifact of the Gods Outside. Hope it turns out sufficiantly S&S for your liking. :)

  6. Michael Kamp

    Eh – what timezone are you in?

    I’m cutting this one pretty close to the deadline, and since I’m in Europe (Denmark to be precise), I have between 4,5 – 9 hours extra to polish the story depending on your timezone. :)

    Michael

  7. Mojo

    Was about to send a submission when I realized it’s Cthulhu AND sword and sorcery, not or.

    My short is set in modern time but is Cthulhu themed, do I still send it? Would it be considered at all or not?

    Thnx!

    - M

    1. SM

      From their guidelines, listed above: “Sword and Mythos. This includes any element of the Cthulhu Mythos … combined with sword and sorcery (heroic fantasy).” If you want to send them pure Cthulhu themed, look for the guidelines for their regular magazine, not this anthology.

  8. Matt

    I just sent my submission after a little bit of refining. Like Efthymia Despotaki asked earlier I was wondering if you send confirmation emails. I just get worried if I don’t know my story got to the right place.

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