Lincoln Crisler has released the guidelines for an anthology he’s editing for Damnation Books. It’s called Corrupts Absolutely? and deals with dark themes and metahumans (superheroes and the like). It’s tentatively scheduled for publication in March 2012.

Here’s what Crisler says on his website:

Lord Acton originally wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Modern pop-culture is brimming over with stories of bright, polished men and women with iron wills and indestructible moral codes, who throw themselves into a life of public service after being graced (or cursed) with cosmic powers, a magic ring, puberty-activated mutant genes or robot suits.

I call bullshit.

Suddenly discovering that you’re different from baseline humanity is certainly the sort of thing that could change one’s worldview overnight, but that just isn’t interesting, especially since it’s been done ad infinitum. How about the people that look out for ‘Number One?’ People with flaws? People with serious psychological issues? People that have been looking for a ticket out of their circumstances and finally lucked into it? People who’ve devoted themselves to their success and have reached it, at long last? The nerdy kid who doesn’t have to be pushed around and isn’t willing to hide anymore? The jealous girl that’s tired of being the ‘other woman?’ The disenfranchised homeless man? The bored housewife who wishes she’d made some different choices?

To some, this just screams ‘supervillain,’ or ‘antihero,’ and in many cases, you’d be right. But usually, these are stock characters without much substance. They’re the “bad guys.” Real life isn’t that simple, and even the meatier, more realistic metahuman portrayals out there are seen mainly in comic books; rarely in a prose anthology.

Show me substance. Show me what would really happen if today’s people had superpowers.

I’m looking for stories of 3,000 to 5,000 words that handle the topic of superpowers and metahumans from unique, interesting and realistic perspectives. There are no limits regarding historical eras or futuristic settings, but remember to suspend disbelief. The stories don’t all have to involve bad guys or bad girls, but I do require that stories about heroes have a basis in something more than simple idealism. Your protagonists don’t necessarily have to have superpowers, even (think Ozymandias, Punisher, Batman, Catwoman). Elements of thriller, horror, noir, erotica and science fiction genres are all welcome, and if you have a good idea that doesn’t quite fit into those ranges, send that along too. And yes, there is room for hope, too…a little at least. After all, the title is in the form of a question. Does power corrupt? If so, is it absolute? Perhaps; perhaps not.

Send your stories to subs@lincolncrisler.info in standard manuscript format. Submissions open on June 27th, 2011 and close on October 1st, 2011. Authors will be notified of acceptance soon after. Payment is in the form of shared royalties (40% electronic, 25% print). The anthology is scheduled for tentative publication in March 2012 by Damnation Books.

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