Seven Flies High as Eight Begins

I'm rather excited to be able to tell you that I'm going to be at Fantasycon next weekend. Yes indeed! This year Fantasycon is in Birmingham (not far from the Black Sabbath bench), and I will be telling all and sundry about Best of British Science Fiction 2022

If you are also there, do go to the Newcon Press book launch at 6.30pm where these new books will be celebrated: Terry Grimwood's The She, Ida Keogh's Fish, Teika Marija Smit's Umbilical, Emma K. Leadley's Telling the Bees, David Gullen's The Blackhart Blades and Guest of Honour Ian Whates's own The Double-Edged Sword.

There should be plenty of copies of Best of British Science Fiction 2022 available in the dealer's room too, as I signed flipping loads the other week.

The launch for this volume was actually in July. Did you catch it? If not, no worries, it's right here... an entertaining hour of fiction discussion  - and wine! - in the company of Val Nolan, Vaughan Stanger, Robert Bagnall, Stephen Oram  and Alice Dryden.

It's well worth a watch, promise! I'm actually quite pleased with how it went. It was my first time piloting Streamyard as opposed to just taking part in a streamed event, and I was thrilled that I had so many chat contributions from writers and readers - it made it very fun to do.

...and since the launch, we have had a few reviews rolling in, and they have been extremely favourable! This one is from Eamonn Murphy at SF Crowsnest - who has read and reviewed every book in the series so far. Thank you very much for the support, Eamonn. 
Neatly, there are 22 stories and I’ve picked out some of my favourites here but, frankly, they’re all pretty darn good.

Thanks to Ida Keogh and Emma K. Leadley for bringing that review to my attention. Look how Eamonn describes some of the stories...
Many short stories end with a twist but I didn’t see this one coming. Neat.

           This had the feel of a Silverberg story and so was good. 

          A cleverly constructed little masterpiece.

           ... a little gem

            Wonderful black humour.

Heck, that sounds like an anthology I'd love to read. 😊

The LibraryThing reviews so far are all glowing too!

  ... truly excellent selections here.

            ...all of the tales are well-written; definitely worth checking out if you want to get an idea of the current state of short sf in the UK; recommended!

  enjoyable collection, as usual.


Seven years of anthologies in the bag... now we move on to number eight. The cycle continues!

Here is the working cover for the next edition... at the moment there are no names on it but mine. This is where you come in, dear writers.

Submissions are now open for Best of British Science Fiction 2023.

I have been accepting stories for just one day, and already there are some fantastic stories coming in, and one or two have already made it onto my selection longlist. We are opening bang on time this year, but closing a little earlier - December 31st. To see if you have an eligible story, please check out the submissions criteria here.

From enquiries already made to me, I have some FAQ answers for those who need them:

My (grandfather) was British, but I am not, and I don't live in Great Britain or Ireland. Can I submit a story to you?

I was a student in Great Britain/Ireland a few years ago, but now I don't live there. Can I submit a story to you?

I am afraid not - writers must be either British/Irish by birth, or a British/Irish citizen, or currently residing in Britain/Ireland. If you are originally British/Irish but living elsewhere now that's fine too.

I'm from the Channel Islands, what about me?

Yes, that totally counts.

I have co-written a story with someone who is not British or Irish. Can we send it in?

Yes, so long as one of you fits the eligibility criteria, and the story has been published according to the eligibility criteria, that's fine.

My story was published this year for the first time, but not in English. Is that okay?

This is an English language reprint anthology, so I'm only looking at stories originally published in English for the first time during the period of eligibility.

My story was accepted for a reputable story podcast, but hasn't appeared in print anywhere, can I send you my story?

I will accept the submission, but stories prepared for audio are slightly more complex. You may wish to get in touch with the editor to get them to send me the final version they submitted for narration. Please be clear in your email that this was an audio-only publication and you have the editor's final version.

My story was published in (Name of Obscure Press)... (Not even a question.)

There are many fledging new publications and presses out there, and it's brilliant to see them! I often find lots of stories this way - sometimes there will be a fantastic anthology I end up raving about to all and sundry, and it puts lots of new names my way.

However... if I look up that 'press' and realise it only publishes you, and you're trying to pretend to me that it's not self-published, well, I will take a very dim view of you indeed. Nor do I need to start a debate with any writers about the relative merits of self-published work. As a reader, I have read lots of self-published things and enjoyed many of them, so there.

I do sometimes get self-published story collections sent to me for  consideration, and twice I've thought, oh what a shame, there's a good story in there. Why did they cop out and end up self-publishing? There are so many markets for short fiction that if you are a writer worth your salt you will accumulate a great big pile of rejection letters and it can be hard if you know that you've actually written something decent, but keep plugging away! It's either that you need to improve as a writer, which will happen the more you write, or you need either a bit more judgment or luck in submitting. Keep going! 

Can you accept a story that won a competition this year but hasn't been published anywhere yet?

No, sorry.

I created a theatrical production of this story, which was critically acclaimed, so I am assured it's good. Will you accept it?

I am only accepting published stories that fit the eligibility criteria, sorry. If there is only a theatrical production then it hasn't been published. 

This hasn't been in print anywhere, but there is a recording on YouTube/Spotify/Bandcamp etc.

I'm afraid this doesn't qualify. Releasing an audio/video format yourself is the same as self-publishing. 

I've had a novella published. I appreciate it might be too long, but would you consider just the first couple of chapters? I think they might work quite well as a standalone story.

No that wouldn't be right for this anthology, sorry.

My story got published but I think the editor has made some terrible changes. Please can I send you the original version?

Actually, I think I need to see what this editor has done! Please send me the published version. And yes, I will check and compare with what I can see online or in print... due diligence and all. I have had this question a few times and in most cases the editor did have a point. 

My story was due to be published this year, but something is amiss with the publisher. I'm worried it won't be published before the deadline. Can I send it to you anyway?

Ah, we've all been there. I make a note when I receive stories if they have a publishing date in the future, and just make sure the publication happened as planned (hoped?) before including the story on my shortlist. I really appreciate you letting me know if the story isn't quite published yet. Better than you forgetting to submit the story before the deadline!

My story was published in the US and has a lot of American spellings. Is that okay?

Yes that's fine. I tend to switch all the spellings to British English where it makes sense: grey, aluminium etc. However, if a character is talking about "hanging out on the sidewalk", or "three blocks from my apartment in downtown LA" I'm not going to insert kilometres, flats, or pavements into their speech. That would be silly.

As you can see I get loads of questions. I am sure I have forgotten a few. I'll try to think of any more questions I may have been asked and add them in here at a later point in the comments. If you can think of any you would like to ask, why not add them below?

See you in Birmingham in a couple of weeks!


  1. Another question...I am asked: "Most publishers want exclusive rights for a time after you sign the contract, which I always thought meant that the story couldn't be published anywhere else during that time period. So how does that work with a 'Best of' collection like this?"

    I get asked about this quite a lot!
    Some exclusivity clauses could indeed prevent a story from being included in a reprint anthology such as this depending on the length of exclusivity and when the story was originally published. Some publishers make exceptions for Best of anthologies anyway.

    It has luckily not affected anything I have wanted to include yet, as the exclusivity ran out in time, but I would advise writers to check their contracts before submitting and advise of any potential issues. I do my checks anyway, but I find it useful. It's not going to prevent me from reading a story.

    I often find stories I want for BOBSF that have not been submitted to me, so it's a matter of asking and applying due diligence.


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