A Hand of Knaves

Edited by Chris Large and Leife Shallcross.

The premise

Rogues, thieves, pirates and ne’er-do-wells abound in speculative fiction. Sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, often somewhere in between, rogues are as likely to steal one’s heart as one’s purse, and show little remorse while helping themselves to either.

So why do we love them? Because they’re imperfect, fallible, and even vulnerable under that carefully-maintained, world-weary exterior.

Rogues represent something we rarely see in our daily lives: ordinary people prepared to take on the “powers that be” by way of guile and subterfuge. But are they only in it for the loot, or are they – deep down – romantic at heart?

What we want

  • Swashbuckling adventures brimming with humour, loot, and bad blood.
  • Gut-wrenching dilemmas, resolved (for good or ill), by the thrust of a knife in the dark.
  • Thoughtful stories exploring the foggy spaces between justice, and the law.
  • Heroic deeds performed by someone with a less-than-heroic past.
  • Magic and/or technology, combined with charm and charisma, to pull off an impossible heist.
  • Hilarious sea shanties.
  • Sweaty tales of betrayal and Machiavellian intrigue.
  • We want to discover passion, righteous indignation, and the depths of one thief’s hatred of another. How far will the lure of gold, revenge, or the promise of a midnight tryst push one toward the brink of what is honourable, and that which lies beyond? What horrors await a scoundrel who goes too far?
  • Han and Chewie, Arya Stark, Captain Jack Harkness, Koen “Cleverman” West, Deadpool, Imperator Furiosa and Captain Jack Sparrow are all fantastic examples of what we want for A Hand of Knaves. You might notice our list isn’t made up entirely of able-bodied, straight, white dudes. That’s important to us. We want this anthology to reflect the rich diversity of the human race and our imaginations. Amaze us with thrilling new worlds, adventures, and characters with unique faults and quirks.

What we don’t want

  • Straight heist stories (set in a future or past) with no particular speculative elements.
  • Generic revenge fantasies.
  • “Shiver me timbers. Make ‘em walk the plank, and be quick out it. Arrrr!”
  • Endless butt-kicking – if your story revolves around a master thief who can’t be seen or heard and performs every action with bird-like precision, you’ve probably been playing too much Assassin’s Creed. Our swaggering anti-heroes are just as likely to be caught with their pants around their ankles. Which leads nicely into…
  • Sex and violence are acceptable, and sometimes required as part of a well-crafted doublecross, but gratuitous gore and sexual degradation will not find a place in this anthology.

The rules

  • Firstly, as is usual for CSFG anthologies (being a showcase for Australian writing and all), you will need to be an Australian resident or ex-pat or at the very least a member of CSFG to submit.
  • Keep it to 5000 words or less.
  • It needs to be original and unpublished.
  • We’ll look at up to three stories from one author and, yeah, we know it’s a blind subs process, but our Slush Wrangler is sharp. He’ll know.
  • And about it being a blind subs process. This means we will pick the stories without knowing who wrote them. So while we need you to give us all the usual details in your email submission to knaves.anthology.csfg[at]gmail.com, like your legal name, pen name and contact information, please do not put your name anywhere in the manuscript. If we select your story, we’ll get stuff from you like a bio later.
  • Please double space your manuscript and use standard margins and indents for new paragraphs. And for the love of all that’s holy, use a sensible font like Arial or Times New Roman. Heck we’ll even take Courier. But if you choose to express your puckish humour through Papyrus or Bleeding Cowboys, your submission will never make it out of our Slush Wrangler’s bag of holding.
  • Payment will be at least $30 per story and 2 copies of the anthology. If we are successful in meeting our stretch goal in our crowdfunding campaign, we aim to increase this. CSFG seeks first print and ebook publication rights, exclusive for one year from the date of publication.

Now go. Scheme. Plot. Write. Make it good. Submit.