Call for Submissions: Steampunk Shakespeare Anthology!

By Posted in - Book Blast on December 14th, 2010 9 Comments

During an animated #SteampunkChat last Friday we discussed those who have jumped on the Steampunk bandwagon by merely tacking Steampunk elements on to a story that could live very well without them. Our attention then turned to whether Shakespeare’s plays could be adapted as Steampunk short stories. The puns flew far and wide, but the idea caught on and Flying Pen Press stepped in with an offer to publish a Steampunk anthology of short stories adapted from the Bard’s plays and sonnets, inviting me to co-edit it.

Read the #SteampunkChat transcript

Submission guidelines for “The Omnibus of Doctor Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter: A Steampunk’s Shakespeare Anthology.”

From Hamlet as half-man half-machine to Henry V at the helm of an army of men in steam-powered mechanical suits, the sky is the proverbial limit for adapting William Shakespeare’s classic plays and sonnets to the Steampunk aesthetic.

This is not intended to be a series of mash-ups, like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but rather re-inventions of the classic Shakespearean stories and sonnets. You are free to adapt Shakespeare’s language and themes to a Neo-Victorian setting as you will, but unlike the typical mash-up, you don’t have to include every line of original text from your chosen play or sonnet.

We prefer stories where Steampunk elements and themes are thoughtfully applied to Shakespeare’s works. Do not simply throw automatons into Hamlet or Steampunk technology into Richard III; consider how such technological changes may reinterpret the original stories. Saying it another way: What new insight will your Steampunk version of Shakespeare bring to the Bard’s original works?

General Guidelines:

  • Send all submissions to [email protected] as attachment in either Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX), Real Text Format (RTF) or OpenOffice (ODT) format, with a short introductory letter.
  • All submissions should have STEAMPUNK SHAKESPEARE: Story Title/Sonnet Numbers in the subject line. Any submissions without this information will not be considered for the anthology.
  • We’d prefer inclusion of Steampunk elements in the title of each story, i.e. “Othello, The Half-Machine Moor of Venice” or something similar.
  • We also welcome interpretations with queer characters, characters of color, non-heteronormative relationships, characters with disabilities, non-Eurocentric settings and other traditionally marginalized narratives in mainstream fiction.
  • All submissions must be received no later than 12 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on 30 May 2011. There will be no exceptions.

Play Adaptation Guidelines:

  • 10,000 words or less on one scene, act, or aspect of any play from Shakespeare’s canon.
  • Integrate Shakespearean language as best as you can within the context of the story; it’s not required that you include some of Shakespeare’s original lines, but it is encouraged.
  • The play that your story is based on must be recognizable within your version; if you adapt Henry V, the reader must be able to tell it’s Henry V as source material.
  • Any violence or sexual situations should remain within the limits of general audience acceptability. Let the play you’re adapting be your guide.
  • You are allowed to submit multiple short stories, so long as you do so by the deadline.

Sonnet Adaptation Guidelines:

  • Adapt any of Shakespeare’s sonnets into a Steampunk version of the same sonnet.
  • The original Sonnet must be recognizable inside your adaptation (i.e. if we the editors can place your version of Sonnet 156 and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 156 side-by-side, we should be able to identify the origin of your version).
  • You may submit multiple sonnets.

Payment is a percentage of the royalties If there are any questions about these guidelines, anthology co-editors Jaymee Goh, Lia Keyes, and Matthew Delman may all be contacted via The Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild webportal at

NOTE: This anthology will be released through the Steampunk Imprint of Flying Pen Press ( as both a print book and an ebook.

Visit the brand new Steampunk Shakespeare site

Frequently Asked Questions

(9) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Lucy H. - Reply

    December 15, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Yes Yes Yes! Is there anything better than Steampunk AND Shakespeare? Impatient readers: check out an author I saw at the Steampunk World Fair named Lev Rosen, book was “All Men of Genius.” Steampunk and Shakespeare–and Wilde. Swoon!

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    December 15, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Oh, how fun – your comment totally made my grey afternoon shine brightly again, Lucy! I'm off to check out Lev Rosen's book right now…

  • claudine - Reply

    December 19, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Sounds fun! I wish I had a better grasp of Steampunk so I could join in. Of course, I do have until May 2011 to figure it out….


    • Lia Keyes - Reply

      December 19, 2010 at 6:53 am

      Yes, you do! And there are tons of great resources online if you google "What is Steampunk?" Don't hold back!

  • Inventrix - Reply

    December 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    This is going to be wonderful! I do have a question about the submissions, if you don't mind.

    Are you looking specifically for stories done in the Victorian England flavor of steampunk, or would a different but suitably steampunk cultural basis be acceptable?

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    December 20, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Hi, Inventrix! We've specifically stated that non-Eurocentric adaptations are fine. Let the play be your guide. Does the new setting help the original's themes shine more brightly? Think about why you're making the quirky choices that you're making. Don't do it arbitrarily. Hamlet in Japan? Fine. Just know why.

    Are you new to Steampunk? You could do worse than to brush up on your understanding of Steampunk by visiting the Wikipedia page, which is quite a good intro!

    Without more specific information it's hard for me to help you further, and I hate to see ideas left in a comments section of a blog for all the world to see before you're ready, so why not join the Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild so we can communicate more privately? You'll find it at 🙂

  • Lia Keyes - Reply

    December 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I checked with Matt, too, and this was his response:

    "I thought we did answer that. No, we don't require the story to be set in Victorian England. For further answers, make sure to check out the Steampunk Shakespeare forum at The Steampunk Writers & Artists Guild."

  • LiaKeyes - Reply

    December 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Just to let you all know, we've opened a brand new site for the Steampunk Shakespeare anthology at
    Let us know what you think, and if there's information you'd like that isn't there, let us know and we'll see what we can do.

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