Last Updated: 24th February 2023
- Dan Hartland, Book Reviews Editor
- Aishwarya Subramanian, Book Reviews Editor
This page contains the following sections:
What We Want
Strange Horizons publishes in-depth reviews of science fiction and fantasy works, especially books, films, and television, three times a week. Reviews normally cover new works, that is, titles published within the last year to eighteen months. We do occasional features on older works, and will not necessarily reject a review because its subject has been available for a while, but we will consider such reviews on a case-by-case basis. We're especially interested in reviews of worthwhile material that might not otherwise get the exposure it deserves; similarly, we are interested in reviews of works that push traditional genre boundaries.
We pay $50 for reviews of at least 1000 words. We prefer reviews of 1500 to 2000 words, although we have no upper word limit; a review should use as many words as necessary to say what needs to be said. Take a glance at our archives to get a feel for what we like. You are always welcome to email us to ask if we're interested in a piece before writing it. If you are pitching a potential review, please include your pitch in the email itself rather than sending it as a separate attachment. If you are sending us a review on spec, please check the website to ensure that we don't already have a review of the title you want to write about.
We require exclusive electronic rights for six months. After that period, you are free to republish the review elsewhere. We hope (but do not require) that you'll allow us to post the review in our archives indefinitely after it's rotated off the front page. You have the right to remove your review from the archives at any time after six months.
Things to Consider
- A review should give its readers some idea of whether they should seek out the work under consideration for themselves. Therefore, it should not rely on or assume familiarity with the work under consideration. Some plot summary will almost always be necessary, but it should not form the bulk of the review. Take care when revealing details of the plot, and be sure that any such details are necessary to support the point you are making.
- A review should provide some context for the work under consideration. This doesn't have to be extensive, but should answer basic questions an informed reader is likely to have: is it the author's first novel or their tenth? Does it draw on similar material as or examine similar themes to previous books, by this author or by another? Are there obvious antecedents of the work under consideration, or obvious influences on it?
- As a reviewer, you should have an opinion, and make it clear. The best reviews are those where the reviewer has fully engaged with the book, whether that means picking apart the structure, discussing the themes, or arguing with its politics. Be demanding: what is new about the book? Note that the review should be about your opinion, and not about second-guessing the reader's opinion. As a general rule, don't tell the reader that if they like J. Famous Author they will like this. If the comparison to the work of J. Famous Author is important, the review should make it and substantiate it, providing enough information for a reader to decide for themselves whether the comparison is useful.
- A review should always be specific. Provide evidence to back up your opinions. Don't just say the prose is beautiful: there are many kinds of beauty. Are you admiring the precision of the language? The images it creates? The rhythm and flow of the sentences? The same goes for the characters. Don't just say the protagonist is annoying: explain what they do that's annoying. If the characters are unconvincing, is it because of their relationships with other characters, or their lack of an inner life, or their contradictory responses to some events, or something else?
- Quoting from the text, if done well, is a powerful way to give a reader a sense of whether they'd enjoy a work. Pulling out sentence-level examples can considerably strengthen the points a review makes—particularly in the case of a negative review. If you're including a longer quote, be sure to discuss it: don't assume that the person reading the review will understand why you included it. If you only have a sentence or two to say about a passage, as a general rule it is probably better left out.
- Reviews should be entertaining to read. There is nothing wrong with reviewers having a distinctive personal style. At the same time, be clear that the review is about the work under consideration, not you as a reviewer. Introduce critical or theoretical concepts if relevant, but try to avoid (or at least explain) jargon, and do not talk down to the reader.
- A good review has its own story. At the micro level, does each point lead logically to the next? At the macro level, does the conclusion reflect the introduction, or has the review gone off at a tangent in the middle somewhere?
- Reviews of short story collections and anthologies do not have to talk about every story in the book, nor do they have to discuss every story in equal depth. A useful approach is to organize your comments to highlight shared themes or other similarities between stories.
How to Submit
E-mail reviews to us at email@example.com. Type "REVIEWS SUB: Your Review Title" in the subject line. At the top of the body of the email, list your name, the title of the work being reviewed, and the approximate word-count of the review. We prefer to receive the text of the review as a Word(.doc/.docx) attachment; you may also send the review as plain text (ASCII) in the body of your email,.
Reviews should follow American standards for spelling and grammar. Include page numbers for all quotes from books, and indicate which edition you reviewed (especially if you reviewed the book in proof). If your review makes substantive comparisons with other works, please provide the date of the first edition of those works. If sending a rich text file, please keep formatting to a minimum, and use line breaks rather than indentation to indicate new paragraphs.
We do not accept authors' reviews of their own works. However, we are happy to receive review copies, as described below.
Usually two weeks. If we don't respond to your submitted review in a reasonable amount of time, try again; your email may have been lost.
Submitting Works For Review
If you wish to submit a review copy, send a short description of the work in the body of your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may attach publicity material to your email but please avoid links to book trailers. Please put "REQUEST FOR REVIEW" in the Subject line of your email, followed by the title and author. We accept both physical and electronic review copies, and especially favour the latter where available as our reviewers are located all over the world, and in these pandemic times the post is not always as reliable as it once was.
We receive a lot of requests for reviews. If a work interests us we will be in touch to request a review copy; otherwise we are unlikely to reply. If we don't respond within fourteen days assume we are not interested. We do our best to assign reviews based on interest; we can't guarantee that every review copy will get placed with a reviewer, but we do try.