Planet Democracy: Hopepunk Issue of Mithila Review

Mithila Review is inviting submissions for a special global Hopepunk issue of science fiction (and fantasy) devoted to positive and powerful character-driven stories that imagine an open and inclusive tech-empowered democratic future for all people, species and countries on Earth.

Who we are

Mithila Review is a readers-supported international journal of science fiction and fantasy established in 2015. We have published the best of speculative fiction, poetry, non-fiction and conversations with new, emerging, and Hugo-winning authors over the years. You can read all our issues for free here on our website or on your favorite reading device. 

Why Hopepunk?

With funding support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a US-based NGO that works to strengthen democracy, we are collaborating with our sci-fi friends at Mafagafo + A Taverna (Brazil) and Omenana (Nigeria) to re-imagine positive visions for a high-tech democracy that can out-inspire and out-govern digital tyranny, censorship, surveillance, and authoritarianism. 

The final stories from all three journals will be collected and published in a global anthology edited by Dr. Amy Johnson (editor: Drones & Dreams, 2019) in 2022.

What do we want?

For this special issue of Mithila Review, we want excellent, hopeful and memorable stories. Your story and characters should make us think, turn us into believers, and make us want to fight for and be part of a truly democratic future. 

What positive interventions do you think could bring us closer to the future you want for all of us? Here are a few questions to help you get started:

Governance: What does a high-tech democracy look like? What does it mean for you, your family, community, or our planet? How can we reform elections, their mechanisms and instruments, for equal and fair participation? Who gets to define or be a citizen? How often should “elections” be held? Daily? Weekly? Why not? How are we going to ensure accountability, quality of service and performance? 

Internet Technologies: What does the world look like where the Internet technologies and social media work to build and strengthen democracy, democratic institutions, spirit and culture? How can we build an Internet which doesn’t need to rely on hate-bots, disinformation campaigns, ad-wares and surveillance/trackers? Is the Internet of the future multilingual, anonymous and free — a universal basic right? 

Healthcare: In a truly democratic society, is healthcare free, open-source, universal and accessible to everyone? If yes, in such a society, what noble quest — hard/wicked social, environmental or medical problems — are people trying to solve? 

Environment: How can private technologies and crowd-sourced initiatives stop climate change, protect wildlife, and save the ocean in a more democratic and just world? 

Education: Take us to a future democracy, where every child and adult has the same level of access to education/information. Show us a world where “enlightenment” or “self-actualization” and “transcendence” are within everyone’s reach!

Law & Order: Is your future society sans police or prison? What does the future of law and order, also the prison system, look like in your democratic world? 

Economy: What does a truly democratic economy look like? No-money Star Trek economy? Community-owned farms, cities, or seasteads? In the future, do we still have to “make a living” or are we living in a post-work / basic-income society where everyone’s basic needs are taken care of by the government? 

To sum up, we want bold new visions of democracy that incorporate the power and potential of digital technologies while mitigating the dangers. The potential is huge – new forms of communication, citizen input, transparency, and accountability can lead to a renaissance in what democracy means, how it functions, and who is included.

Submission Guidelines

Who can submit? Anyone.

Language: English. Translations are welcome.

Genre: Science fiction. Open to interpretation: fantasy, literary, slipstream, cli-fi, etc welcome. 

Word Length: We’re flexible with word length, but prefer stories between 3000-7500 words.

Reprints: No. Reprints include stories published in Patreon, Newsletter, (Print) Anthology, etc.

Poetry? Yes. We pay $10 per poem. 

Payment: Minimum USD $0.08 cents per word for the first 5000 words. (Maximum pay per author: $500, if the length of your work exceeds our budget.)

How many stories/poems do we need? We publish at least 5 stories and 5 poems in every issue of Mithila Review.

Deadline: May 20th, 2022 

Response: 2 weeks. We’ll let you know if we’d like to hold your work for further consideration. 

Publication Date: Late June – Early July 2022 (tentative)

Manuscript Formatting: Standard manuscript format with name, address, contact information and word count on the top. Double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point font.

File format: Doc & Docx. 

How to submit: Please submit via this Google form: https://forms.gle/2AJYdwhjdQVkunYWA

Support Email: editor[@]mithilareview.com. Only for form-related queries, if you face any technical issues. 

Salik Shah
Salik Shah is the founding editor and publisher of Mithila Review. You can find him on Twitter: @Salik Website: salikshah.com