On the rest of this page, everything in boldface green is a link.
What Is Bewildering Stories?
Bewildering Stories — known informally as “BwS” — is a weekly electronic publication featuring speculative fiction as well as non-fiction, namely poetry, articles, essays, reviews, and art.
What does “Bewildering” really mean? One thing it does not mean: “befuddling.” We do not like literature that is meaningless or self-contradictory or that asks the readers to do the writing for the author. What “Bewildering” does mean is “unconventional” and “thought-provoking.” Who would pay any attention to a title so conventional as “Unconventional Stories”? Our name puts our preference into practice.
What is “speculative fiction”? We have no hard and fast rule. Theoretically, it is not contemporary realism, but we’ve cheerfully published contemporary realism, too: it was sent to us, and we liked it. If your submission — whatever it may be — meets our guidelines, we’ll be glad to consider it.
What Does Bewildering Stories Do?
Since its inception in late June, 2002, Bewildering Stories has been intended mainly to encourage new writers, namely those who are not yet “rich and famous.” Its mission is primarily educational, but “BwS” is not a writers’ group.
Bewildering Stories borrows a lot in some ways from an on-line university course: in particular, our feedback to contributors; the biographies and welcome messages; the Challenges; the Critics’ Corner; the on-line schedule; the articles in the Writer’s Craft department; and the Submissions guidelines, which are formulated as a reference work. Our Reviews page represents mostly a permanent forum of critical essays.
The Review Board and Associate Editors are the “faculty,” and even the Quarterly Reviews can be viewed, after a fashion, as the results of mid-term exams.
Universities are degree-granting — not job-granting — institutions. Likewise, Bewildering Stories is not a success-granting institution; contributors must all define success in their own ways. What we do grant is feedback, an audience and a reader-friendly presentation.
Bewildering Stories itself appears only on line, not in print. Bewildering Press was launched by Jerry Wright in 2006 and was devoted to the print publication of novels and anthologies. It can no longer function as a small press. Its pages are preserved by tradition and as a favor to veteran contributors to Bewildering Stories. Inquiries about Bewildering Press should be addressed to the Bewildering Stories’ Managing Editor.
The Bewildering Stories Crew
Jerry Wright (1946-2013) — Publisher, in memoriam.Don Webb — Managing Editor; founder and originator of the Bewildering concept.
The Coordinating Editors distribute longer prose submissions to review readers. They also correspond directly with contributors.
The special editors have functions similar to the Coordinating Editors’ but are more specialized.
The Review Board
Andrew L. Hodges
Lewayne L. White
Review Board members ex officio: Edward Ahern,
Charles C. Cole, Heather J. Frederick,
Bill Kowaleski, John Stocks, and Don Webb
Editors ab officio
Bewildering Stories is grateful to editors who have previously served on the Review Board or as Associate Editors: Katherine Allen,
Ian Donnell Arbuckle,
Jo Wharton Heath,
Oonah V. Joslin,
Rachel V. Olivier,
Jenny Claire Rutherford,
Sarah Ann Watts, and The Invincible Spud, who designed the original website and is the self-designated Official Vegetable of science fiction. We are also very grateful for Clyde Andrews’ work as managing editor of story contests 2, 3, and 4.
Fonts and sizes: Bewildering Stories prescribes fonts and sizes for special items such as headers and footers and reduced-size text when it’s needed. Otherwise, texts are displayed in the fonts of your own Net browser’s preferences.
Early issues prescribed the Times font and green text on a black background. If any contributor to an early issue would like to update the display of his or her submission, please ask; we’ll be glad to take care of it.
Reading: Bewildering Stories is designed primarily to be read on line. For that reason we take our “long road” guideline very seriously. We also tend to be very strict about limiting individual pages to 3,000 words at most. Our Submissions page gives more details about works longer than that.
We are also mindful of a verse that Omar Khayyam crossed out:
Bewildering bliss beneath the bough:
A glass of wine, a laptop computer, and Thou.
We encourage readers to print out pages of their choice, perhaps file them in a loose-leaf binder, and then curl up beneath the bough, etc. Handy tip: Select the text on the pages desired and copy-paste it into a word-processor file. Format to taste and print.
Submissions and Scheduling
For submissions, please see our Contact page.
Regular submissions, namely those sent to Bewildering Stories alone, are given our full attention and consideration. Some patience is required on everybody’s part. However, Bewildering Stories takes a dim view of simultaneous submissions, namely ones that are sent to more than one publication at the same time. Even so, our summary response normally tells the author more than most other publications would.
Scheduling: Titles are scheduled roughly in chronological order of acceptance. The on-line schedule shows the next four weeks of the official schedule, which is normally longer.
New contributors are given priority to the extent that we can treat veteran contributors fairly. As a rule, the same author appears in consecutive issues only in the case of serialized works. However, exceptions do occur.
The issue’s overall length affects the total number of titles and installments it contains. Since each issue is made up week to week, not in advance, submissions may have to be rescheduled. When that happens, the only notice given is in the semi-official preview, “In Times to Come.”
We try to limit each issue to about eleven pages in fiction and non-fiction. Departments may affect issue length but are normally counted separately.
Lengths and Genres
BwS imposes no maximum-length limit on submissions. In the case of novels, we need the entire work in order to be able to consider it.
BwS does have minimum-length limits. We welcome short poetry (shorter than 120 words) but cannot consider micro-poetry or minimalist poetry such as haiku, senryu and the like. The same is true of microfiction (100 words or shorter). Other websites specialize in those genres; Bewildering Stories does not. More information about lengths can be found in our all-important Submissions guidelines.
We classify prose fiction as either flash fiction, short story, drama, serial, novella, or novel. We do not use the term “novelette”; it is an arbitrary construct, not a literary genre, and the word is entirely too cutesey-pie for our taste anyway.
Poetry, Essays and Reviews: We consider all these genres non-fiction. Prose poetry is classified simply as poetry. Short Poetry is analogous to flash fiction. A “short poem” is classified arbitrarily as one that is shorter than 120 words.
Serial is a generic term that applies to a work appearing in more than one issue.
- “Serial” is also a category name applied to a work appearing in two or three issues.
- A novella normally appears in four to seven issues.
- A novel is anything longer.
But please don’t hold us to an exact application of these definitions. In practice, they can be somewhat elastic.
Once begun, serials continue until completed.
Incomplete serials cannot be considered. These especially include novels in progress. However, we may publish intermittent serials in which the chapters can be considered stand-alone stories in their own right. In practice, such serials are really what we call “related stories.”
Novels: If you’d like to send us a novel or other work longer than 9,000 words, your submission will be welcome, but please send the whole file; we can’t consider sample excerpts.
Related short stories may be considered as separate stories or as parts of an intermittent serial.
Title Limits by Genres:
- Flash fiction: the normal limit is two titles in any one issue. The number may vary according to issue length.
- Poetry and Art are considered non-fiction. The normal limit is three titles in any one issue.
Simultaneous appearances by one author: Any author may contribute more than once to the same issue, normally once in prose or poetry and once in the Departments.
The opinions and ideas published on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Bewildering Stories or its editors. For that matter, works of fiction may not invariably reflect the personal opinions of their authors. Bewildering Stories will correct errors of fact but will not remove anything on the basis of objection to opinions; rather we invite discussion of anything we publish.
The Managing Editor takes sole responsibility for everything that appears in Bewildering Stories. If you find anything that constitutes a personal offense to you, explain why and the Editor will remove it forthwith.
We accept contributions on the presumption of good faith, that they are the original work of their respective authors. If you believe anything we publish is plagiarized or published without permission, please let us know; we will conduct an investigation and take the appropriate action.
Lemures ex caverna|
The Invincible Spud’s Imaginary Staff
Frogz Balonium, Assistant Editor
Hakuna Matata, Art Director
Holly Schmidt, Music Director
Provolone Smithzok, Wildlife Manager|
Robert Thibde, Resident Bewilderologist
Emile Potash, Crash Test Dummy
The Bewildering Blob, Figment of Our Imagination|
Jessica P. Glurki, Resident Xenopsychosociophysicobiochemist
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