The latest issue of Nature is out, and if you turn to the “Futures”. If you wish to send a story to the orbiting station that is the future submissions hub, it’s probably easiest if I upload the instructions via the mind link.

There are two rules for Nature Futures

The very first rule is, I’m afraid, prepare to be disappointed. This is not a bad thing, but as for any science-fiction outlet, Futures can publish only a limited selection of the stories we receive, so rejection is part of the process (and it is honestly no more fun to issue a rejection than it is to receive one).

The second rule is that contributions to Futures are welcome from absolutely anyone, irrespective of whether they are writing their first story, or are professional or published authors. There are, of course, some basic requirements, so here are some frequently asked questions:

How does Futures describe ‘hard’ science fiction?

Stories that contain a credible scientific aspect, even if it has been extrapolated to the nth degree, as opposed to out and out fantasy. I have been sent some very entertaining stories involving swords and magicians — nice but wrong publication. Similarly, there is some degree of confusion about whether horror = SF, usually it doesn’t. But as our guidelines say, we do have a liberal interpretation of hard SF — what are rules if they can’t be broken (sometimes)?

What kind of story is Futures looking for?

Future is a venue for short stories. The subject is typically near-future, hard SF, although this can be interpreted liberally. In short, what Futures is looking for is originality.

 What does ‘Futures’ consider?

‘Futures’ is a venue for very short stories or ‘vignettes’ of between 750 and 850 words. The subject is typically near-future, hard SF, although this can be interpreted liberally. In short, what Nature are looking for is originality. To this end it is advisable to read as many of Nature ‘Futures’ as you can, as stories that repeat themes already dealt with extensively are less likely to be considered than those that do something new and different. Nature does not consider reprints of stories previously published elsewhere. For a selection of previously published ‘Futures’ stories, please see Concatenation’s Futures index

What happens next?
In common with all other sections of Nature, ‘Futures’ receives many more contributions than it can possibly publish. However, the editor undertakes to read all contributions within 14 days of receipt and get back to authors with comments. Although the editor will try to make specific notes on rejected stories, he cannot guarantee to do this, and authors should be consoled that stories are likely to be rejected for reasons of space, taste and the pigheadedness of the editor rather than literary quality. Appeals on decisions to reject, or re-writes of previously rejected stories will, regretfully, be accorded a very low priority.

What happens if my story is accepted?

If a story is accepted it will be sent for copy-editing and the commissioning of artwork, and you will be sent proofs in due course which you will be expected to return promptly to the copy editor. You will be sent a copy of the issue of Nature in which your story appears. If you don’t, holler.