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Fantastic Trains: An anthology of Phantasmagorical Engines and Rail Riders
Does a train whistle in the distance make you excited, wistful, or afraid? Trains have fired the imaginations of many people, especially writers. Anna Karenina, Night on the Galactic Railroad, The Signal Man, Strangers on a Train, The Lady Vanishes, Murder on the Orient Express all use trains as their main setting, not to mention the trains in children’s books—like Thomas the Tank Engine, The Little Engine that Could, and The Polar Express.
As travelers, we’ve been spurred to go farther because of trains, see new things, take chances. Trains have also, sometimes, pushed us too far, sliced the wilderness, inserted us into places to draw out resources, assisted in invasion. Trains, in a sense, even created Time as we know it. Trains altered our perceptions of identity, place, even of destiny. Suddenly, people could travel far away quickly, leave their families and homes for a better life, or opportunity—or people could escape the destiny of location. Step on a train, and you never know what you might find, or with whom you might cross paths. In essence, trains are Change.
We’re looking for your stories of trains—fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, horror, slipstream, urban fantasy, apocalyptic, set in any time, any place,—we’ll buy a ticket on all of them. We’d like to see what you can do with a train. A good part of your story should take place on a train—or most, if you can do it. We don’t care what era, what planet, or how the train might look differently there (it might even be alive!) or even if the train is moving. We just want that train—what you do with it is your magic.
This book will be both for lovers of the fantastic, and train aficionados. Think about how trains change the lives of people who travel on them, or how trains are used. Think about those people who love them, and know so much about trains, and why as children we were amazed. We want good character stories. We also want to see that you’ve thought about how your train runs. Make us feel like we’re on it. Make it fantastic!
THE TWIST: The Locomotifs
We’re looking for an author to choose one or more archetypal minor characters from the following list and interpret them through the lens of their story (their time, place, genre, etc.) as purely background characters, or, if you want, a main or POV character.
They can be combined too into a composite type character. An author would not HAVE to choose more than one, but one of these must pass through your story. (You will need to mention who you’ve chosen on your submission, under your contact information, using the letter(s) appropriate.) These characters are not named, nor is there any requirement for nationality, gender, race, ability/disability, gender expression, etc. You are free to interpret.
Here are the ten we’d like you to consider:
- A) The Schemers: a couple with a plan
- B) The Dreamer: someone who speaks about, or gives value to, his/her dreams;
- C) The Detective: a person trying to solve something—a riddle, a puzzle, a mystery;
- D) The Reluctant: someone who doesn't want to get on, or perhaps, leave the train;
- E) The Adventurer: someone who believes they are on an adventure;
- F) The Guide: a mentor, a knowledgeable person about place, trains, etc.
- G) The Box: a mysterious piece of cargo with important implications to someone.
- H) The Lovers: a couple at any stage of love
- I) The Knight: someone who will fight for a cause, theirs, or one they are given
- J) The Seeker: someone who doesn’t know, but who wants to learn
We think the recurring nature of these "locomotif” characters through the collection will have an effect on the reading brain. We think readers will create connections and stories of the minor characters between these very different stories; they will link them up like train cars. Readers will make connections and see arcs by the juxtaposition of stories. (Think Cloud Atlas.)
You are invited NOT to take them literally. The Detective probably shouldn’t be a detective, but someone who is trying to solve a puzzle, a personal mystery, with a detective’s sensibilities. (And damned if Murder on the Orient Express’ trailer didn’t just use a similar concept by introducing characters as "types"—ignore that. We’d love to be original, but archetypes are very very old, and they’re not necessarily job-oriented, as they are in that trailer. But Christie’s MotOE is a great example of a train story!) Also, do not think that you need to try to fit in all ten. That’s like trying to meet everyone riding on your train. You can do it, but it takes too much time away from you.
Authors, of course, are free to develop their story on their own—but they should allow one of these kinds of characters to board their train, even if for a fleeting reference.
If you have a "train trunk" story and can retcon one of these characters into it seamlessly, without it looking like a shoehorn, awesome. Ultimately, we’re looking for you to tell us a good story.
We invite you to take us on a journey.
Submissions will close September 30, 2017.
ABOUT THE EDITORS:
Jerome Stueart is the author of The Angels of Our Better Beasts, a collection of stories recently long-listed for the Sunburst Award. Jerome was also the co-editor of Wrestling With Gods (Tesseracts 18) and Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Literature. His work can be found in Fantasy, Lightspeed’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Icarus, Geist, Geez, and several Tesseracts anthologies. Jerome was the trolley conductor for the Whitehorse Waterfront Trolley for several summers when he lived in Whitehorse, Yukon. He now lives in Dayton, OH and teaches creative writing at the University of Dayton. [MORE]
Neil Enock is the author of two books, Doc Christmas and the Magic of Trains, and Mayan: Atlantis Returns, and the face and creator of the million-plus-views podcast TrainTalk.tv. He is past president of the Alberta Model Engineering Society. His love for trains is no secret to his thousands of train-loving fans. He is also active in the film industry as an actor, prop designer, producer and screenwriter. Recently, Neil has become the creator of the Wrist-Rack, a handmade leather gauntlet for carrying your cell phone on your wrist launched on Kickstarter and sold at Expos and Cons. Neil lives, creates, and fabricates with his family in Calgary, AB. [MORE]
- We're looking for your stories of trains—fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, horror, slipstream, urban fantasy, apocalyptic, set in any time, any place,—we’ll buy a ticket on all of them. We’d like to see what you can do with a train. A good part of your story should take place on a train—or most, if you can do it. We don’t care what era, what planet, or how the train might look differently there (it might even be alive!) or even if the train is moving. We just want that train—what you do with it is your magic.
The Fantastic Trains anthology will reflect as broad a spectrum of stories as possible; highlighting unique styles and manners.
Stories should contain a train in them. We don’t really believe you missed that one, but we’re just making sure. The whole story doesn’t have to be on the train, but a train should figure in the story. It can be moving, broken, stalled, a relic in a museum, or a prototype, even a toy train. But it needs to be there. Because people will buy this anthology because your story uses a train!
We are aiming towards two audiences, those who love speculative literature and people who love trains—remember that. Train aficionados are amazing people who love every detail about trains—the history, the specs, the technical parts. Capture that kind of love too if you can! Be accurate about trains, as much as fiction can be.
Stories must contain one of the "locomotif" minor characters as a walk on, or used however you want to use them. You should indicate the letters (A,B,C, etc) of the locomotifs you’re using below your contact information on the first page of the submission story itself.
Submissions must be speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, magic realism, slipstream, supernatural horror, modern fantasy, fantasy noir, weird tales, alternate history, space opera, planetary adventure, surrealism, superheroes, mythic fantasy, etc.
Submissions should be short fiction.
The maximum length for stories is 5,000 words, with shorter works preferred.
The Fantastic Trains anthology is open to submissions from everyone, from every country, and we specifically encourage historically-underrepresented groups, of any race, gender or gender expression, LGBT, class, or ability.
Authors who write in languages other than English are welcome to submit an English translation of their work, provided it otherwise falls within the parameters of this anthology. Translation into English is the sole responsibility of the author. Please supply details of original publication for any submission that originally appeared in a language other than English.
Deadline: September 30, 2017 (midnight EST).
Do not query before submitting.
Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emails MUST contain the word "submission" in the subject line, or they will be deleted automatically by the server. Please also include the story title in the subject line.
Submissions MUST come in an attachment: only .RTF and/or .DOC formats are acceptable.
Emails MUST contain a cover letter in the body of the email; for security reasons, email attachments with no cover letter will be deleted unread and unanswered.
Cover letter: include your name, the title of your story, your full contact information (address, phone, email), and a brief bio. Also include the locomotif(s) you are using.
Do not describe or summarize the story.
Reprints (stories having previously appeared in English in any format, print or electronic, including but not limited to any form of web publication) will not be considered.
Submission format: no strange formatting, color fonts, changing fonts, borders, backgrounds, etc. Leave italics in italics, NOT underlined. Put your full contact information on the first page (name, address, email address, phone). No headers, no footers, no page numbering. DO NOT leave a blank line between paragraphs. Indent paragraphs. ALWAYS put a # to indicate scene breaks (a blank line is NOT enough).
ALWAYS include your full contact information (name/address/email/phone number) on the first page of the attached submission.
Payment for short stories is prorated as follows: $50 for stories up to 1,500 words, rising to a maximum of $150 for stories up to 5,000 words.
Rights: for original fiction, first World English publication, with a two-month exclusive from publication date; for all, non-exclusive anthology rights; all other rights remain with the author.
Spelling: please use standard American English spelling.
Response time: initial responses (no / rewrite request / hold for further consideration) will be prompt, usually within fifteen days. Please query if you’ve not heard back within 30 days. Final responses no later than 15 December 2017.
Submit only one story. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.
Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted.
Publication: May (e-book) and Sept/Oct for trade paperback.
Email submissions to: email@example.com
Other Train books/movies of the fantastic to consider:
- China Mieville’s Iron Council
- Stefan Grabinski’s The Motion Demon (collection of train stories)
- Snowpiercer (a movie based off the French Graphic Novel Le Transperceneige by Lob, Legrand, Rochette)
- Source Code (Jake Gyllenhal on a speeding train locked in a loop in time)
- Darjeeling Limited (a comedy/drama based on character on a train—though not fantastic, still awesome)