Zombies Need Brains releases new sci-fi and fantasy anthologies


This week marks the release of three new books from Zombies Need Brains, an independent press that publishes exceptional science fiction and fantasy short story anthologies. The three new titles are: The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, an American Gods-style collection about deities wrangling with the modern day; When Worlds Collide, which includes tales of fantastical, alien, or otherwise imaginative cultures clashing in unexpected ways; and Derelict, a book of stories revolving around reinventing the archetypal ‘abandoned ship’ trope.

Each book features a line-up of 15 science fiction and fantasy authors, ranging from well-established names like Tanya Huff, Gini Koch, Jack Campbell, Stephen Leigh, and S.C. Butler, to previously undiscovered authors who came in through the publisher’s open submissions. (Or, as we affectionately refer to it in publishing, the “slush pile.”)

Full disclosure: I am one of those unknown authors who came in through the slush pile — my Aztec-inspired story, “The Teotl of Gaming,” is part of The Modern Deity’s Guide. Now that that’s out of the way…

The brainchild of fantasy author Joshua Palmatier, Zombies Need Brains started making waves in the sci-fi/fantasy community in 2014 with the release of Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens. While Palmatier and fellow editor Patricia Bray had previously released two other anthologies together with DAW Books, it was Clockwork Universe that established the model the publisher has utilized to great success over the past seven years. Every year, ZNB does a Kickstarter where they announce the themes of their upcoming anthologies, and once it’s funded (every single one has been), they open submissions to the general writing public.

All of which makes these books an excellent opportunity for writers looking to test their mettle. Opportunities for open submissions for sci-fi and fantasy anthologies of this caliber are few and far between. I caught up with Palmatier last week to pick his brain about the short story anthology format, the craft of writing, and what the process of building books like these looks like from the editor’s chair.

How to get your sci-fi and fantasy stories published

“[Open submissions are] one of the things I always wanted to do, because in my opinion, often our strongest stories are coming from the writers that have never been published before,” Palmatier said. “And, you know, there aren’t a ton of markets out there where you can just submit at random. So…I wanted to make that available through Zombies. And the intent is to do that all of the time with all of our anthologies.”

But don’t think it’s only unknowns tapping away at their keyboards in obscurity who go through the slush pile. One fascinating tidbit from our interview was that, on one occasion, author Garth Nix submitted this way as well. Nix has penned upwards of 30 novels, and is best known for his hit fantasy tale Sabriel. His short story “Welcome to the Jungle Bar” was featured in Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Barwhich centers around Gilgamesh and the events he witnesses unfold throughout history while bartending the mythical Ur-Bar.

Zombies Need Brains recently announced the themes for next year’s anthologies as well: Noir, which will be a book of noir-ish detective stories in sci-fi and fantasy settings; Brave New Worlds, which covers humanity’s expansion to alien planets; and Shattering the Glass Slipper, which will be a collection of fairy tales with unique twists. If you are interested in submitting to any of those books, keep an eye on Zombies Need Brains’ website for the launch of their next Kickstarter.

The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, Derelict, and When Worlds Collide are available tomorrow in print from Amazon or Zombies Need Brains‘ store, and on all the major ebook platforms.

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