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Eye to the Telescope 35, Hard Science Fiction Tropes, will be edited by DavidC. Kopaska-Merkel.

Hard science fiction is based on contemporary or historical science extrapolated into the future (which may also be the past). Think anything from H. G. Wells or Jules Verne to Larry Niven or C. J. Cherryh. Noteworthy hard science fiction poetry has been written by F. J. Bergmann, Ruth Berman, Geoffrey Landis, David Lunde, Ann K Schwader, and Gene Wolfe, among many others. The technology doesn't have to be the main point of the poem, but technological advances have to be integral to it. Many poems are set in technological futures, but the focus is usually on the people.

Tropes include time travel, matter transmission, alternate worlds, faster than light travel, fundamental changes in human bodies (intentional or otherwise), alien technology, and lots more. You can take a serious look at the implications of technology, especially taking fresh looks at widely used tropes such as those I just mentioned, or you can poke fun at themes from science-fiction literature that you feel have been done to death. Consider the implications of recent scientific advances, or established technology whose implications have not been properly appreciated. Or, look at the far distant future, at times when humanity or its works may be utterly different than they are now, if they exist at all. The use of vehicles such as parallel worlds to find the familiar in things that are completely different (or vice versa) also would be in keeping with the theme of this issue.

Pieces submitted can be of any tone, length, or poetic form, but please keep in mind this is a speculative poetry journal, so submissions are expected to be identifiable as works of science fiction, or an affiliated genre of speculative fiction. Translations are also welcome, and should be submitted in English as well as in the original language.

If your poetry pays homage to the work of a particular author or scientist, and you want this to be known, include the relevant information in your cover letter. Should your poem be selected for inclusion, the background info you've provided will be included in the introduction to the issue.

I’m really looking forward to reading your work!

Submission Guidelines


  • Please submit 1–3 poems in English (in body of e-mail, or attached as .doc, .docx, or .rtf). Translations from other languages are acceptable with the permission of the original poet (unless public domain).
  • Please send submissions to with the subject line “ETTT sub:” followed by the poet’s name.
  • Include a short bio.
  • Deadline: December 15. The issue will appear on January 15, 2020.

Payment and rights

  • Accepted poems will be paid for at the following rate: US 3¢/word rounded up to nearest dollar; minimum US $3, maximum $25. Payment is on publication.
  • The Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association normally uses PayPal to pay poets, but can also send checks.
  • Eye to the Telescope is an online publication. Therefore, First Electronic Rights (for original unpublished poems) are being sought.

Who can submit?

Anyone writing speculative poetry.

What is Speculative Poetry?

Speculative poetry is poetry which falls within the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and supernatural horror, plus some related genres such as magic realism, metafiction, and fabulation. It is not easy to give precise definitions, partly because many of these genres are framed in term of fiction rather than poetry.

A good starting point is “About Science Fiction Poetry” by Suzette Haden Elgin, the founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Despite its title, this article is applicable all forms of speculative poetry.

Tim Jones, editor of Issue 2, had a go at defining science fiction poetry on his blog, in two parts (These blog posts date from 2009, and the Voyagers anthology has since been published. These posts do refer specifically to science fiction poetry, rather than the broader field of speculative poetry.):

What Is the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA)?

As the SFPA says on its website at, “The Science Fiction Poetry Association was founded in 1978 to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry. What is sf poetry? You know what they say about definitions—everybody has one. To be sure, it is poetry (we’ll leave that definition to you), but it’s poetry with some element of speculation—usually science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Some folks include surrealism, some straight science.”

See the SFPA site for lots more information—and please consider joining.

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Interested in editing an issue of Eye to the Telescope? See the Editors’ Guidelines for information and requirements.