THE SEA IS OURS is an anthology of Southeast Asian steampunk. We are looking for steampunk stories that are set in Southeast Asia, or secondary worlds that evoke Southeast Asia, with Southeast Asian protagonists, in any of the countries that make up the region: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. We are looking historically and technologically-innovative stories.

Steampunk, for the purposes of this anthology, is defined as an aesthetic that combines technofantasy, anachronism, retro-futurism, an alternate history / world, and the evocation of an incipient industrial revolution. How does the steampunk aesthetic look, feel, sound, smell, or taste like in these regions? What kind of technologies would grow in resource-rich SEAsia?

What do our historical figures, our Parameswaras, Trung sisters, Lapu-Lapus, do in such a world? Submissions are encouraged to explore various levels and kinds of technologies, not just steam technology. Locals myths can also find their way into these stories; what does the mix of technology and fantasy look like in such worlds? Explore all kinds of stories: from the extraordinary to the everyday. What changes does accelerated technology create for the local landscape and societies? Choose historical events and give them a steampunk twist: how do their outcomes change, or stay the same?

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Send all submissions and queries to in RTF, DOC, or DOCX.
  • Submissions should have SEA-STEAM: [story title] in the subject line.
  • Please do not attach a cover letter; cover letters are the text of your email.
  • Wordcount: between 2,500 – 9000 words long.
  • Fonts: size 12; Courier or Times New Roman.
  • No cover page; name, email address and wordcount on the first page; name/story title/page in headers. Please see Standard Manuscript Formatting.
  • Submissions close June 30, 2014.
  • We will contact all submitters within four weeks of submissions closing.

General guidelines:

  • Stories should have a visible development arc, even if they are somewhat experimental.
  • Stories should be in English, but we take a broad view of English, which includes dialect, accents, local slang, and non-English words that express nuances that standard English can’t.
  • Characters should be embedded in their settings. we should not be able to transplant the specifics of their story easily, even if they are based on common science fiction / fantasy archetypes.
  • Local takes on actual historical events are highly encouraged, although not necessary in alternate world settings. If we don’t know the event you’re writing about, we’ll Wiki or you can tell us all about it in your submission email.
  • Stories featuring queer characters, characters with disabilities, non-normative relationships and other such non-mainstream narratives are welcome.


How much are you paying?

5c/word for an original story; 1/c for a reprint.

Do these stories HAVE to be in SEAsia?

No. Secondary worlds evoking SEAsia are cool and exciting.

Can I write a story about SEAsians in other countries?

Yes, but we may not be as interested in a story about a SEAsian in, say, Britain, featuring Eurocentric steampunk technofantasy that we can find elsewhere. Query and we’ll see.

Can I write a story about not-SEAsians in SEAsia?

Maybe. We’re not interested in colonial narratives, but we’d be intrigued with a story of non-SEAsian traders dealing with SEAsians. Query and we’ll see.

Can I see previous examples of / resources for SEAsian steampunk?

Yes, here is a list of SEAsian steampunk stories and resources (not all available online though!):

  • The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho, Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories
  • “On Wooden Wings” by Paolo Chikiamco, Philippine Speculative Fiction 6
  • High Society by Paolo Chikiamco and Hanna Buena (comic)
  • “Moon Maiden’s Mirror” by Joyce Chng, Semaphore Magazine
  • “Chang’Er Flew To The Moon” by Joyce Chng, Bards and Sages
  • “Between Islands” by Jaymee Goh, Expanded Horizons
  • “Lunar Year’s End” by Jaymee Goh, Crossed Genres
  • “The Last Rickshaw” by Stephanie Lai, Crossed Genres
  • “One Last Interruption Before We Begin” by Stephanie Lai, Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories
  • Lao Steampunk blogposts by Bryan Thao Worra
  • Steampunk Nusantara, DreamWidth Community
  • The Steam-Powered Globe, edited by Maisarah Abu Samad and Rosemary Lim
  • Digitizing Chinese Englishmen

Do these stories have to be nautical-themed?

Despite the title THE SEA IS OURS, stories do not actually have to be on, above, under or even near the sea. Or have anything to do with large bodies of water.

If I get rejected, will you tell me why?

If we have the energy, sure, but be careful what you wish for. Resultant hate mail will be summarily deleted, or published somewhere for public mocking.