“Life is the dance between choice and chance.”
How did you come to the point in life where you now find yourself? Two factors were likely in play: choice and chance.
The choices you make are clearly a factor in shaping your life. For example: a woman in one universe elopes with her high school sweetheart, but they are too young to make the marriage work and divorce at any early age; in a second universe, she marries him after they graduate from university and happily becomes a stay-at-home mom; in a third universe, she doesn’t marry him and pursues a successful career. Making different choices about the same life goal can lead to very different lives.
It’s also true, though, that chance, forces that are out of our control, shapes the choices that are available to us. This may be because of the choices of others which directly affect us, or it may because of the society into which we are born. For instance: a black man sleeps in his car in the drive-thru lane of a fast food restaurant. In one universe, two white cops are sent to deal with him; forty-five minutes later, one of them has shot him dead. In a second universe, one of the white cops and a psychiatrist are sent to deal with him; after a tense confrontation, he is arrested and his car impounded. In a third universe, the psychiatrist and a social worker droid are sent to deal with him; he is sent home to sleep it off and told he can pick up his impounded car the next day. The different outcomes are a product of chance, the different structures of the societies in which the main character finds himself.
The Dance is an anthology of speculative fiction short stories that explores the way different circumstances or choices change the course of our lives. How does it do this? By showing readers the consequences of different circumstances or choices in different realities in the wider context of the multiverse.
Each story submitted to The Dance must contain three parts set in three different universes. The universes should be distinct (PRO TIP: if the only difference between them is that Charlie Brown was named Charlie White or Charlie Blue, that’s not distinct enough), although they will likely contain many commonalities. Each story should explore how choice or chance affects the lives of characters and/or the world in which they live. (Bonus points if you can incorporate both chance and choice into your story.) Each story must have a speculative element, whether science fiction, fantasy, horror or some other fantastical genre.
Submissions from members of marginalized groups (including: people of colour, LGBTQ+ and Indigenous peoples) are encouraged. The editor aims for gender parity (an equal number of stories from women and men.)
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Ira Nayman is a humour writer who started combining his beloved genre with speculative fiction fifteen years ago. In that time, he has had eight novels and two dozen short stories published. He was also the editor of Amazing Stories magazine for three years.
Ira tries to write fiction that surprises and delights readers. As an editor, these are qualities he looks for in stories. SURPRISE: the multiverse, which goes back to at least the writing of Michael Moorcock in the 1970s, has been having a cultural moment, lately (you know something is big if it appears in both the Marvel and DC cinematic universes!). Submissions should find something fresh and new about the multiverse to explore. DELIGHT: Submissions should be fun to read. This may be because they contain a Spielbergian sense of wonder; it could be because they contain a wicked sense of humor (humor, wicked or not, is always welcome, although not necessary); it could come from another source.
Send submissions as an attachment to: . In your cover email, feel free to include a paragraph with your writing experience. (Not to worry: your story will be judged on its merits, not your background.) Submitters should also identify any and all marginalized groups to which they belong in the cover letter. Submissions should be in standard manuscript format, although it’s always worth straying from it if there is a narrative purpose to do so.
WORD COUNT: Maximum 10,000 words (although the sweet spot will be between 6,000 and 7,000 words)
ACCEPTABLE FORMATS: .docx, .doc and .rtf
OPENING DATE: May 1
CLOSING DATE: August 1
PAYMENT: one percent of net sales
SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS: no
MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS: no