Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

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New publication date for Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6

I’m disappointed to announce that The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six is the latest victim of the industry-wide delays that have been impacting book production since the start of the pandemic. It’s particularly bad at the moment, with paper shortages impacting the schedules at many publishing houses. In this case, our late November publication date has become a late January publication date.

It feels wrong that the volume covering 2020 won’t be available until 2022. I’m also concerned that this will impact sales. We’re going to miss out on the holiday shopping season and it wouldn’t surprise me if the book ended up with a shorter shelf life at brick and mortar stores since volume seven is also scheduled for 2022. (We don’t have a solid date for volume seven, but normally, I’d assume July. We may see that pushed back to give volume six a bit more breathing room. I should know for sure sometime in the next month.) Add to all this that delayed books often end up with canceled or reduced orders from booksellers.

And I’m not alone… This is happening to a lot of books. So what can be done? A few things come to mind: (and these are good for any book, delayed or on-time)

  1. Encourage your local library to put those books on order and check them out when they come in. (If no one checks out the book, that could be a problem for their future ones at that library.)
  2. Preorder wherever you normally buy books. Online or at your local bookstore. It doesn’t matter. (And get the book when it comes out, don’t leave them stuck with it, it just gets returned and that’s worse than not having ordered it. Distributors charge fees on returns and the books are often damaged.)  Preorders demonstrate that their customers are interested in a title and that in turn discourages bookstores from canceling or reducing orders. It might even get them to order more.
  3. When the book does come out, review it. Doesn’t have to be an essay. Just toss it whatever stars you think it deserves at whatever online site you use. At Amazon, for example, a book that gets more reviews gets higher visibility. That helps more than you probably think. Even Tweeting, Instagramming, or Facebooking “hey look what I got” book photos draws in some potential readers.
  4. And, of course, the usual tell a friend…

Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 6 Contents and Cover Reveal

Cover art

The Best Science Fiction of the Year – Volume 6

Night Shade Books – November 2021
ISBN-10: 1949102521 (hardcover), 194910253X (trade paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1949102529 (hardcover), 978-1949102536 (trade paperback)

The sixth volume in my year’s best series. This book will feature science fiction short stories/novelettes/novellas originally published in 2020.

Available from:

Table of Contents

  • “Scar Tissue by Tobias S. Buckell (Future Tense Fiction, May 30, 2020)
  • “Eyes of the Forest by Ray Nayler (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2020)
  • “Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn (, February 26, 2020)
  • “An Important Failure by Rebecca Campbell (Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2020)
  • “The Long Iapetan Night by Julie Novakova (Asimov’s Science Fiction, November/December 2020)
  • “AirBody by Sameem Siddiqui (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2020)
  • “The Bahrain Underground Bazaar by Nadia Afifi (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2020)
  • “Lone Puppeteer of a Sleeping City by Arula Ratnakar (Clarkesworld Magazine, September 2020)
  • “Your Boyfriend Experience by James Patrick Kelly (Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends, edited by Sheila Williams)
  • “Beyond the Tattered Veil of Stars by Mercurio D. Rivera (Asimov’s Science Fiction, March/April 2020)
  • “The 1st Interspecies Solidarity Fair and Parade by Bogi Takács (Rebuilding Tomorrow, edited by Tsana Dolichva)
  • “Oannes, From The Flood by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Avatars, Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer)
  • “Yellow and the Perception of Reality by Maureen McHugh (, July 22, 2020)
  • “Exile’s End by Carolyn Ives Gilman (, August 12, 2020)
  • “Invisible People by Nancy Kress (Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends, edited by Sheila Williams)
  • “Red_Bati by Dilman Dila (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki)
  • “Textbooks in the Attic by S.B. Divya (Rebuilding Tomorrow, edited by Tsana Dolichva)
  • “Seeding the Mountain by M. L. Clark (Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September/October 2020)
  • “Knock Knock Said the Ship by Rati Mehrotra (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2020)
  • “Still You Linger, Like Soot in the Air by Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed Magazine, August 2020)
  • “Tunnels by Eleanor Arnason (Asimov’s Science Fiction, May/June 2020)
  • “Test 4 Echo by Peter Watts (Made to Order, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
  • “Uma by Ken Liu (Avatars, Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer)
  • “Beyond These Stars Other Tribulations of Love by Usman T. Malik (Wired, December 11, 2020)
  • “The Translator, at Low Tide by Vajra Chandrasekera (Clarkesworld Magazine, May 2020)
  • “Fairy Tales for Robots by Sofia Samatar (Made to Order, edited by Jonathan Strahan)
  • “This World is Made for Monsters by M. Rickert (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2020)
  • “Elsewhere by James S. A. Corey (Avatars, Inc., edited by Ann VanderMeer)
  • “Salvage by Andy Dudak (Interzone, January/February 2020)
  • “The Long Tail by Aliette de Bodard (Wired, November 30, 2020)
  • “Rhizome, by Starlight by Fran Wilde (Rebuilding Tomorrow, edited by Tsana Dolichva)
  • “How Quini the Squid Misplaced His Klobučar by Rich Larson (, January 15, 2020)

Cover art: “FOSS_STATION77” by Pascal Blanché.

Clarkesworld Year Twelve Anthologies

The long-overdue Clarkesworld Year Twelve anthologies are now available for purchase! These two volumes contain all the stories published in Clarkesworld Magazine‘s twelfth year, covering issues 133-144 (October 2017-September 2018). Click on a cover for a complete table of contents.

Clarkesworld Year Twelve: Volume One Clarkesworld Year Twelve: Volume Two

Available in trade paperback from (volume 1, volume 2)

and ebook from (volume 1, volume 2)
Apple (volume 1, volume 2)
B&N (volume 1, volume 2)
Kobo (volume 1, volume 2)

Cover Reveal: The Best Science Fiction of the Year – Volume 5

Cover art by Pascal Blanche.

Table of contents and ordering information here.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year: 2020 Submission Guidelines

The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 6 will be published in mid-2021 and select from science fiction stories (short stories, novelettes, and novellas) originally published in English in 2020.

Translations are allowed as long as their first English language appearance is in 2020. To keep things simple, I will be using the publisher’s copyright, magazine’s cover date, or posting date (primarily for online fiction) to determine eligibility. Serialized works will be considered published at the time of the final installment.

Print materials must be received by November 1st. Digital materials must be received by November 15th. If your project is scheduled for publication after that date, please send galleys by the above deadlines so that I will have sufficient time to consider your work.

I will require non-exclusive World anthology rights in English in print, ebook, and audio formats for stories I select for this volume.

I will accept science fiction stories, novelettes, and novellas for consideration in the following formats:

Print – mail to:
Neil Clarke
PO Box 172
Stirling, NJ 07980 

EPUB, MOBI, and .DOC – email to:

I strongly dislike reading PDFs and they are more difficult to work with, so please do not send me work in this format unless you have no other options.

Publishers: If sending a magazine/anthology/collection that also contains other fantasy/horror/other stories, please list the titles of the science fiction stories in your cover letter or email.

Authors: I will not be able to let you know whether or not your work has been submitted by your publisher. To avoid duplication, please check with your publisher before sending a story. If your work is self-published, please include the date and location (blog, website, Amazon, etc.) your work was originally published.

Stories published in the following magazines and anthologies do not need to be submitted. I already have (or will receive) them. UPDATED 10/27/2020

Magazines: Abyss & Apex, Analog, Apex, Asimov’s, Cirsova, Clarkesworld, Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Cossmass Infinities, Departure Mirror Quarterly, Diabolical Plots, Escape Pod, F&SF, Fiction River, Future SF, Future Tense Fiction/Us in Flux (Slate), Galaxy’s Edge, GigaNotoSaurus,  Interzone, Kaleidotrope, Lightspeed, Little Blue Marble, Metaphorosis, Mithila Review, Samovar, Shoreline of Infinity, Strange Horizons,, Translunar Travelers Lounge, Uncanny

Anthologies: 20,000 Leagues Remembered, A Dying Planet Short Stories, Africanfuturism: An Anthology, And the Last Trump Shall Sound, Avatar: Indian Science Fiction, Avatars, Community of Magic Pens, The Dystopia Triptych (Ignorance is Strength, Burn the Ashes, Or Else the Light), Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters, Glitter + Ashes, Made to Order, Upon a Once Time, Reading 5X5 x2: Duets, Recognize Fascism, Silk and Steel, Unidentified Funny Objects 8, Way of the Laser, Writers of the Future: Volume 36

Sending a book/file/story is a one-way transaction. I will not be confirming receipt or returning materials.

Notes on publication dates:

  • Magazines: It is traditional for magazine cover date to be used to determine year of publication, however, if a story from a January issue is published on the website of that publication in December of the prior year, that will be considered the first publication date. This is considered an intentional publication by the publisher in the earlier year.
  • Anthologies: If the ebook or an e-Arc of an anthology is made available for purchase (and delivery, preorders don’t count) in the year prior to the official copyright year, the earlier year will be ignored when determining eligibility.  If the print edition happens to ship a few days earlier than the official publication date, causing it to drift into the prior year, the copyright date will be used. Unlike the digital publication dates, this is something that tends to be outside the publisher’s control. This is why they are treated differently.

Short Story Cover Letters

Let me preface this post by saying:

  • These are my preferences for cover letters when submitting a story to Clarkesworld Magazine or one of my anthologies. This is not a standard, though other editors may feel the same way.
  • Most cover letters are awful, so I read them last. I don’t want them influencing my opinion of a story before I’ve even read it. I’ve never rejected a story because of the cover letter.
  • This post will be updated as necessary. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

How to address a cover letter

You can skip Dear Neil, Dear Mr. Clarke, Dear Editor, Dear Editor and first readers, etc. It doesn’t have any impact. Simple mistakes here can sometimes work against you. For example, “Dear Sheila” tells me you either meant to send this to Asimov’s or they’ve already rejected it. Every editor I know has had this sort of thing happen to them. Some hate it. Some find it amusing. I couldn’t care less, so just skip the niceties and dive right into the substance.

What should be in a cover letter?

There’s a few things that might have me view your story in a different light.

  • if there’s a particular aspect to this story that pulls from your professional experience (for example, physicist, historian, astronaut, musician, etc.) or personal experience (cultural, regional, temporal, etc.)

You don’t have to “write what you know” but if you happen to know, it’s good that I know you do.

  • if you are a non-native English speaker

I have immense difficulty learning other languages, so I’m not going to hold a non-native speaker to the same standards for spelling and grammar. Your approach to storytelling might even be a bit non-standard to an native English speaker. This is important to know for the evaluation and (if accepted) editing phases.

  • if you are under 18 years old

I’m impressed. I never would have done something like this at your age. Like the non-native speakers, I’m going to cut you a little more slack on the grammar and spelling. (Not that I’m particularly hung up on that being perfect to start with.) It does, however, have an impact should we choose to accept your work: your parents or legal guardian will be required to co-sign the contract.

Since I read the cover letter last, think of the above items as having the potential to make me go back and read a bit further. This even applies in instances where I haven’t been the first reader. (Editors and first readers often stop reading a story when they no longer think it will work for a publication.)

  • if you are previously unpublished

I’m not buying names. I’m buying stories. What you’ve sold previously (or not) doesn’t mean this story will be any better or worse. That said, every editor I know loves to be the first person to publish an author’s work. It’s something that should be celebrated and I often don’t find out until after the story has been published. Telling me up-front helps avoid that.

  • if you are submitting a translation

You should be tell me where the story was originally published (if it was), what the original language is, your relationship to the story (author or translator), and whether or not you have the approval of whoever holds the rights on the original (sometimes this isn’t the author or their estate). The translator’s name should also be in the manuscript, typically under the author’s byline.

  • if you are submitting a reprint

We don’t accept reprints at Clarkesworld, but this does apply to any of the reprint anthologies I edit. I need to know where and when the story was originally published and if there are any restrictions (usually time, region, or language-based) in place.

  • if you aren’t the author

Yes, there are legitimate reasons this could happen. The most common is that the person submitting the work is the author’s agent or otherwise represents their estate. It also common with translations. We will verify this before issuing a contract.

  • if you selected “other” for genre

Since it doesn’t fit in one of the categories we’ve listed, please let us know what genre you think it is.

If none of the above applies to you, then a simple “Thank you for considering my story” is more than enough.

What shouldn’t be in a cover letter?

  • Our submission system already asks for title, genre, word count, and email address. Repeating them here is pointless
  • Mailing address (should be on the first page of the story) or phone number
  • A laundry list of everyone that has ever published you. Never include more than three, but honestly, you should just skip this information entirely
  • Bank or PayPal information
  • A summary of your story


Ultimately, I prefer your cover letter to be very short. If your cover letter is long (for reasons other than those positives I’ve mentioned), you’ve likely done something wrong.

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