What We Want (and What We Don’t)

We value, and encourage, stories from all authors, regardless of race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, or disability status. That being said, we would never query or require an author to disclose information about themselves that they are not ready to share, and we do not collect information about an author other than what they freely provided.

Understand, however, that we (two white editors) are not comfortable paying a white author to write about, and thus profit from, racial trauma. You can feel upset about this, you can even tell us that this is upsetting for you, but if you have a piece that has not just people of color in it but specifically racial trauma, and you are someone who would not be out of place in a 1960’s cruise ship advertisement, please find another market to submit that story to.

We also will never publish stories from the “dealing with a disabled person is so hard on me” perspective. Autism Moms™ and beleaguered caregivers won’t be the protagonist in a story here. Uncontested ableism or fatphobia are rampant in society, we are not here to give them another home.

Other things that will be a hard sell for us:

Stories that are driven primarily by fantasy elements, like magic, elves, and dragons. We aren’t saying it can’t be done if presented in a sci-fi element or alongside technology, but we aren’t a fantasy magazine and these elements, if present in a Proton Reader story, probably won’t be a central focus.

The “ambassador or scientist on a foreign planet is bored/uninterested in the unique life or culture of the people/fauna/world they are there to interact with or study” trope. We like to see characters that are passionate about what they are doing. We’re not likely to keep reading about someone who got the chance to explore a new alien world and chooses to spend that time bored, unimpressed, or annoyed by something they chose to dedicate their life to.

Stories that create worlds we would want to live in resonate more than dystopic hellscapes or places that bring the injustices of today into the far future. We often treat reading as an escape, so make it something we would want to escape to. This is not not to say we won’t accept stories about hard living, we just aren’t usually impressed by hard living caused by archaic patriarchal nonsense.

Things we are interested in for our coming issues: 

If you really want to wow us, give us a window into a world with completely new mechanics, physics, or functionality. Think beings that evolved in a vacuum, the center of the planet, or as silicone based life forms.

Stories that explain phenomena, either on earth, in space, in the past, or the future, in a new and interesting way. Perhaps we learn the Aurora Borealis is the way a planet sings, or alien interference pushed evolution one way or another, or what really happens at the center of two colliding galaxies.

Think of these as general thematic concepts that have caught our fancy more than guiderails or theme requirements. Themed issues may be on the horizon, but they aren’t here yet. Check our previous issues for what has stuck with us so far.