During college I lived in Germany for a year, and while visiting different homes, I was consistently drawn to these strange shelves and cases many of them seemed to have: stately curio cabinets made of dark, ornate woods crammed with seashells and maps and all sorts of oddities from nature and various cultures from around the globe. Oh, and actual literal globes. They transfixed me, and when I finally got up the courage to ask about them in my broken German, I was told they were called Wunderkammers (wonder chambers), or in English, Cabinets of Curiosities. I became obsessed with analyzing the items in these strange juxtapositions of odd objects, and research told me that dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries, before science became so stodgy and provable, doctors, merchants, artists, and all sorts of collectors would gather bizarre and curious items from a wide range of interests, everything from animal horns and taxidermy, to paintings, to outdated medical contraptions, to rocks, plants, and seashells,
The best part about these objects, especially in the early days of the collections, is their blend of fact and fiction. “This deformed human-like fish skeleton from Lake Wumpalo had the power to curse small children who ventured in too deep…” Or “this rare type of mushroom can only be found in the forests where specters roam.” Or “this calf was born disfigured after aliens landed in the farmer’s field.” Or whatever. You get my drift. These collections are a blend of science and the fantastical. The beautiful and odd. The things that fascinate us or that we know are something special, but we don’t quite have the words or knowledge or understanding to explain. They are indeed, even today, chambers of wonder.
In this anthology, we’ll explore tales of oddities, gadgets, and trinkets. Whether they’re from a love story, science fiction, fantasy, humor, or horror tale, we challenge you to take a strange or common object, tell us a story, and make it come to life in new and unexpected ways.
Here are a few options to spark some creativity, but feel free to bring your own items to life. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Shrunken heads. Voodoo crystals. Message in a bottle. Dragon skeletons. Death masks. A guillotine. Witch cauldron. Religious altars and artifacts. A unicorn horn. Hexes. Old carnival paraphernalia. Mermaid skeleton. Science experiments gone wrong. Love letters. Whale sperm. Royal keepsakes. Animals preserved in jars. Turtle shells. Cursed movie set items. Apothecary bottles. Frankenstein-esque lab novelties. Taxidermies. Five-legged goats. Odd murder weapons. Two-headed farm animals. Cursed personal items. Steampunk technology. Creepy clown trinkets. Items made of human hair. Body parts in jars. Antique medical tools. Medieval torture devices. Proof of aliens, Chupacabra, Sasquatch, or Loch Ness Monsters. Enchanted jewelry. Freaky dolls. Crystal balls. A seeing eye in a jar. Cannibal forks. Three-headed bullfrog. Magical antiques. Paintings by elephants and serial killers. Crocodile tears. Fairy dust. Insect collections. Elvis paraphernalia. Or any other knickknacks, baubles, and gadgets you can imagine. (Except fetuses in jars. Or babies in any disturbing form. Those aren’t likely to win us over, just FYI.)
- Submissions will be accepted June 1st – 30th.
- Stories should be new and NOT published elsewhere.
- Stories should be less than 7,500 words.
- Simultaneous submissions are accepted.
- Authors will be notified of acceptance or pass between July 1st and 15th. We read everything first before any notifications are sent.
- The anthology will be published in October 2019.
- Authors selected for the anthology will be paid $50 & receive one print copy of the finished book.
- If we are interested in your story, we will send you a contract and additional details about edits, payment, and final due dates.
Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org as a Word attachment with Cabinet of Curiosities in the subject line, and we will respond between July 1st and 15th. We look forward to hearing from you!
Past anthology themes: