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List o' scary stuff... and a chance to publish!

In the spirit o' Octoberweenfest...

Starward Shadows Quarterly, “The Speculative Fiction eZine Where the Stars are Always Right … an online dark speculative fiction magazine dedicated to exploring the twisted recesses of the imagination … the wicked, strange places that walk the line between reality and nightmare—the alien, the absurd, and above all else, the weird” craves “Cosmic Horror, Sword and Sorcery, Sword and Planet, High/Epic Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos inspired tales, Gothic Horror, Space Opera, Dark Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, New Weird, Grimdark, Slipstream, and Cyberpunk ... and most other subgenres of speculative fiction … However, feel free to send us anything that falls under the incredibly broad umbrella of ‘speculative fiction’.”


Are you brave enough, dear writer? Because that’s not all -- SSQ makes demands

…so be sure to read all the specs before submitting; they’ve got a lot o’ them!

Also note that submissions open on Halloween and close on November 7, 2021 (until further notice). Make sure your story is between 500 and 1,500 words (until further notice). Pays 1¢ per word.

Scary list o’ Quarterly Dos and Don’ts for fun Halloween reading (quoted from the website):


Monsters, vampires, aliens, psychological horror, first-person unreliable narrators, eloquence, themes of neurodivergence, angst done right (think “Interview with the Vampire), death cults, weird religious undertones, wraiths, trickster kings, black metal, stories where the bad guys win, character-driven narratives, and stories that take place somewhere strange and far away where humanity isn’t even mentioned at all.

Anything with a Dark Souls, Morrowind, or Oblivion vibe will have us foaming at the mouth. Also, one of the editors has also had a lifelong, questionable obsession with A Clockwork Orange and those old Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics . . .

We also like stories that send a deeper message to the reader: Stories that rely on pure shock value usually fall flat without some kind of underlying meaning.


Post-apocalyptic settings, dystopian fiction, parodies, rock-hard SF, zombies, mermaids, sirens, pandemic stories (we lived it and we’re sick of it), and political and/or moral soapboxes. If you’re going to send us anything falling into these categories, you’d better have completely and utterly reinvented it for it not to get auto-rejected.

Absolutely no animal harm or abuse. Sending a story with animal harm will earn you an instant, eternal blacklist. We aren’t interested in implied animal harm/off-scene death, either–nor stories dealing with grief related to an animal’s death.

Protagonists who should’ve/would’ve/could’ve been artists or musicians, were it not for some cruel and embittering twist of fate.

Stories centered around old people who are creepy or suffering from dementia, who then do terrible things.

Stories about children where kids have conversations that were clearly written by adults who have forgotten how kids talk to each other.

Women in refrigerators or other forms of objectification/misogyny. This includes protagonists ruminating about hating their wives or a woman who scorned them, along with any story that reduces a woman to nothing but her level of attractiveness or usefulness to the protagonist.

Stories that revolve around the experience of pregnancy. If a side character who furthers the plot is pregnant, that’s fine. But we don’t want any detailed descriptions of pregnancy/birth, or any main characters who are experiencing these things.

Protagonists who are neurodivergent, but who wish they weren’t and either want or find a “cure.” Stories about someone learning to manage symptoms and/or accept themselves are encouraged.

Stories that revolve around graphic violence for entertainment, or overdone/graphic descriptions of violence in general. We don’t mind authors including these things as elements in a story, but they need to further the plot and its underlying message.

The point above also applies to sexually explicit content: It must serve a purpose in the story besides making someone else read about it.


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