This is actually a call for submissions for
ONLY Artifacts: Things Out of Time. All writers whose
stories are accepted will then be asked to provide a second story for
Travelers: People Out of Time, a companion and sequel anthology that
follows the events of the prologue and epilogue in Artifacts.
Writers should not submit stories about people in the wrong times.
Travelers will be an invitation-only anthology to the writers of
Artifacts, and writers in Artifacts will be required to submit
stories for Travelers. The plan is to release these very close
together. So the short version: Don't submit to Artifacts if you
aren't prepared to also write for Travelers.
This is a time-travel anthology. The
individual stories will be linked together by the prologue and epilogue,
which I'll write once the anthology is filled.
This anthology has been open a while,
and I had received no appropriate submissions. I was about to kill it
several months ago when I received a submission that knocked me over. That
contributor hit the nail on the head, mostly because he's a very good
writer but also because he clearly read the guidelines. He has
reinvigorated me in pursuing this.
What I Want
Setting. The story must be set in
the past, between 10,000 BCE and 1950 CE.
The item. The story must orient
around an ordinary item from the present day that has inexplicably ended
up in that past time period. You must not explain why the object is there;
it just simply must be there. The story should center around your
character(s) dealing with this out-of-time object. The item should be
ordinary—the more ordinary, the better. I don't want high-tech devices,
so no iPods or cell phones or motorcycles, because I suspect 95% of the
submissions would do this. I want truly ordinary items: a hammer, a
wristwatch, a book, a flashlight, a stuffed animal, etc. The writer who
reinvigorated me sent in a story about a ballpoint pen that ended up in
ancient China. That's the sort of thing I want: something that no one
today would expect could likely alter the past.
Item's arrival. You may deal with
the item actually arriving in the past time frame, but for the sake of
continuity with the prologue/epilogue, make it vague: Items arrive in a
small flash of white light, and that's it. But you don't have to do this; you
could just have your protagonist discover the item. It could have arrived
100 years before, or 1,000 years before, and been sitting there all that
time before being discovered. It's up to you. The writer who reinvigorated
me simply had a Chinese man discover the pen.
Importance of the item to the story.
The item should be integral to the plot and be very, very out of
place. A flashlight showing up in 1935 CE would not be particularly out of
place; a flashlight showing up in 1935 BCE would be very out of place. And
the plot should orbit about this item: how the character uses it; the
trouble he gets in with it; how the item causes disruption in the normal
lives of the protagonist, antagonist, and other characters involved in
this time frame; and so on. The item should absolutely, positively MATTER
to your story.
Nature of the story. Regardless
of your item and time frame and plot, these should be human stories. I
want power. I want emotion. I want serious fiction. I want these
present-day items to make a major difference in the time frames they end
up. I want the protagonists and antagonist changed by these items, or
changed by the events that are caused by these items.
Don't change history. I do not
want the past utterly changed. I don't want a gun that ends up in the
past to kill Romulus before he can found Rome. But you could have
something end up in the past that is responsible for having history as we
know it happen--say, a pair of sneakers makes the Marathon run possible. No matter what
happens, our present must be preserved. This isn't an anthology about
changing all of history (which would be difficult if not impossible with
many unconnected writers).
Example. The very best example I
can offer is the story "The Man Who Came Early" by Poul
Anderson. You'd have to read it to understand, but basically an American
GI stationed in Iceland ends up back in time with his gun. The story
equally covers the oddity of a modern-day human stuck in the wrong time
along with the oddity of an out-of-time object, the gun, being there, and
how it affects the people.
I Don't Want
No high-tech devices. That being
said, if a story is so damn good that I cannot ignore it, and the
high-tech device is so well-used in the story, I could relent. This should
serve as a warning to those of you anxious to send your beloved computer
tablets back to King Arthur's court: It had better be spectacular,
because I'm likely to accept only one story with a high-tech item—if any
at all. (For that matter, I'm not likely to accept a gun story, like in
the Poul Anderson example above.) Think of it like this: If you were a
scientist testing a time-travel machine, what items would you send back in
time that you're certain couldn't make some kind of major difference?
(And, of course, this anthology will feature non-make-a-difference items
making a difference.)
No multiple time
periods. I will likely only accept one story for any particular time period,
although I recognize this is a hard range to quantify. I won't run two
stories from the 20th century or even the 18th century, unless they're so
vastly different in place or culture that I feel they should be there. I won't run two
stories that take place during the Revolution, or two during the
Renaissance, or two set in ancient Mesopotamia. However, if I have
accepted a great story set in ancient Mesopotamia and you send me one that
is equally good that is also set in Mesopotamia, I may offer the option to
rewrite the story to be set elsewhere and elsewhen, a choice that will be
left up to you. Obviously, you'll have no way of knowing what time periods
have been submitted, but I will post on this page the time periods and
items that are out of time once I have accepted such stories; that way, if
you're working on a story set during around the construction of the Great
Pyramids and I accept one, you'll know to change your setting, or if I've
accepted a story involving a bicycle, your own bicycle story won't make
QUERY ME! Since
these guidelines are very particular, you are welcome to query me first
with the basics of your proposed story: time, place, object being sent
back, and how it will make a difference. As you see from the top of this
page, I will be posting the objects and time periods when stories are
I'd like 5,000 to 15,000 words. Shorter
is better; longer is a much tougher sell.
As always, until filled. I
am very picky and slow to fill, which you'd know if you read my
Observing everything under
my five requirements, submit to