The Future Fire Manifesto

This magazine is intended to showcase new writing in Social-Political Speculative Fiction. This may suggest science fiction, but no work will be turned away because of its genre or setting so long as it is good and original; dark, unexpected, exploratory, weird and says something important about the world.

Fiction—all genres, all media, all art—should be beautiful and should be useful.

If a story is not beautiful, then we probably have no use for it. Beautiful can mean that it is elegantly written, with flowing prose or poetic, musical language. A story can be beautiful because it makes you laugh or because it makes you cry, because it does not just build a plot around random characters, but builds characters that you recognise from the world around you, from your friends, from yourself. A story can be beautiful because it thrills you with images of the unexpected, or because it makes the mundane and unexciting fresh and unsettling and new. If a story is not beautiful, there are better things to do with your life. If a story is not useful, though, then there is no place for it in a magazine that strives with every issue to confound the lazy expectations of our commodified society.

A science fiction story can be useful because it shows a world more beautiful than our own, "mocking us with the phantasmagoria of a better world"; or because it shows us a twisted parody of our own world, with our faults and slow slippage toward totalitarianism exaggerated to create awareness and alarm in the reader. It can be useful because it undermines the common triviality of good vs. evil and shows that all moral decisions have to be thought about, nothing is obvious or common sense; or because it shows that the people who commit atrocities are sympathetic humans just like us, and need to be engaged with not dismissed as monsters. A story can be useful because it blows away lazy assumptions, prejudices, and expectations and forces readers to look again at something they thought they knew. A useful story attempts to wake up its readers, if they have been sleeping; to educate its readers, if they are not thinking enough; to shock its readers, if they ignore the unusual, the uncomfortable, the alien, the unconventional. If a story is not useful, a terrible opportunity has been lost. But we do not want you to hammer your readers over the head with a political band-wagon; that would not be beautiful.

Some specific themes that we like include:

Some general themes that we do not generally like (although you may surprise us), include:

We do not want dogmatically to impose any genre upon potential contributions. Much great fiction in the broad science fiction area is slipstream; some excellent 'mainstream' literature also just happens to have futuristic or fantastic elements.

By original we mean work that asks new questions, tells stories that we have not heard a thousand time before, challenges the reader's expectations—not with a twist in the tail, but by pushing the boundaries of genre, form, and language. As we are expecting new and experimental work, we cannot impose any hard restrictions of form, length, genre, or medium on the work to be presented. Short stories or poems of conventional length are very welcome, as are creative works disguised as reviews, essays or articles, précis of unwritten novels, etc.

We would be interested to explore the idea of multimedia works, whether in hypertext or some other format, but please contact us before sending anything to confirm viability—since we shall obviously not be opening any large files in unexpected formats.

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