Submission Guidelines

What is Omphalos?

Omphalos is a quarterly speculative fiction review magazine available either on-line for free or on paper by paid subscription (see Formats). By speculative fiction, we mean science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We publish reviews of speculative fiction books and magazines. We publish some articles of general interest to speculative fiction readers. We'd like to publish some speculative fiction art.


Deadlines are always the first Sunday of the month that an issue comes out (January, April, July, and October), modulo changes for holidays. For the next few issues, this translates to:

Review Formats

Chuq Von Rospach, editor of Otherrealms, wrote that "the two keys to writing a good review [are] consistency and objectivity." [1] This also holds for reviews for Omphalos. Your reviews will only be useful if you are consistent from one review to the next. And that consistency will only come from objectivity.

Multiple reviews of the same work are fine, so don't worry about whether someone else has already reviewed something. Multiple viewpoints are almost always a good thing.

Every review must stand on its own (i.e. no column-style pieces, in which several reviews are linked together), unless you are reviewing a series of books by a single author.

[1] "How to Write a Review" copyright 1996 by Chuq Von Rospach, Otherrealms, issue 2.

Book Reviews

Almost any speculative fiction "book" qualifies. It can be new or old. It can be a novel or anthology or short story collection. It can be an out-of-print forgotten work, or the latest from Gibson or Card (or whomever) novel. It can be a little known small press work or a bestseller from one of the big publishers. It can be humorous (e.g. Terry Pratchett) or dark (e.g. Lucius Shepard). It can be a translation from another language (e.g. Haruki Murakami) or it can be in another language (although the interest in these may be smaller). It can be an SF book disguised as a mainstream book (e.g. The Fermata by Nicholas Baker). Whatever. As long as it has some reasonable amount of speculative fiction content.

I prefer a length somewhere between 300 and 600 words (see some of Evelyn Leeper's reviews for fine examples), but will consider shorter or longer reviews. Write at a pace that is comfortable for you. If it's good, the length with not be a factor

Magazine Reviews

In the hope of encouraging interest in the various speculative fiction magazines (pro and semi) out there, I would like to include reviews of them. If you would like to review an SF magazine (or a magazine with regular SF contents like Omni), by all means, do. I only ask (a) that you read all the stories in each issue you review and (b) that you try to review all of the issues of the magazine between issues of Omphalos (usually at most three). The first condition helps to ensure the completeness of the review and the second helps to give readers a gauge for your tastes (and gives me more of a magazine review section). The second condition is flexible; the first is not. Time permitting, I will be reviewing Fantasy and Science Fiction myself, but, as stated above, multiple reviews of perfectly fine.

Media Reviews

I am not very interested in media (TV, movies, games, etc.) reviews. This material tends to be very well covered in other forums and I personally don't find much of it very interesting. On the other hand, I am willing to be proven wrong.

Non-Review Material

I'm not really sure what non-review material I want to include in Omphalos (aside from the requisite editorial ramblings, which I will try to keep brief). If you want to write something that pertains to written speculative fiction (interviews, retrospectives, criticism and ponderings about the field as a whole, whatever) and send it my way, I'd be more than happy to take a look at it. We do not publish fiction.

Art in Omphalos

Omphalos uses artwork both on the cover and within the text of the issue. Artwork is reproduced in black and white for the paper and PostScript formats and in color or black and white (as appropriate) for the HTML format. The ASCII format does not contain artwork. Artwork must be easily reproduced in black and white. If you are not sure about a given illustration, try photocopying it; if you get consistently poor results, so will we.

Each issue has a cover illustration, which is sized to fit within an area approximately 8"x8" (20.5 cm x 20.5 cm).

In addition, to help break up the text, accent or spot illustrations are used throughout Omphalos. These are sized to be not more than 2 columns (4.8", 12.4 cm) wide and not more than 5" (12.8") high.

What We Do and Do Not Want for Art

We want good interesting illustrations relating to speculative fiction. We are not interested in comics. We are not interested in Elfquest rehash or busty amazons or Conan clones or other stereotypical material. Be original. Illustrations pertaining to books, scrolls, libraries, etc. are of special interest for the cover.

Submission Format

Submissions may be sent on paper or electronically.

Paper submissions will not be returned. Do not send original work. Artwork submissions should be mailed flat. Paper submissions should be mailed to:

John R. R. Leavitt
Editor -- Omphalos
5715 Ellsworth Ave. D-2
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Andrea J. Leavitt
Art Director -- Omphalos
5715 Ellsworth Ave. D-2
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Electronically submitted text should be in ASCII format and should not contain any fancy formatting, since I'll just have to reformat it anyway. Underlining/italics can be indicated by *asterisks*. The subject line for electronic submissions should read "OMPHALOS TEXT SUBMISSION".

Electronically submitted artwork should be in GIF, JPEG, or encapsulated PostScript format and should be uuencoded or binhexed to prevent mailer failure. The subject line for electronic submissions should read "OMPHALOS ART SUBMISSION".

All electronic submissions should be sent to:

Rights and Payment

Well, Omphalos is not expected to make a profit. It is, after all, a fanzine and a labor of love, which means that there is no payment for submissions other than the reward of seeing your material in "print" and having a readership (i.e. no money). On the other hand, we are not interested in having any rights other than one-time rights. We are willing to look at previously published work, but would rather that it not have been published electronically or posted to the net (e.g. to prior to appearing in Omphalos (except for magazine reviews which are excepted in the name of timeliness).

Omphalos Formats

Omphalos is published in four different formats:

Where to Find Omphalos

Omphalos is available is a variety of places and ways:

The ASCII version is posted to rec.arts.sf.misc as each issue comes out.

The ASCII and PostScript versions are available from the University of Michigan EText Archives:

The ASCII and PostScript versions are available from the University of Michigan EText Archives in the directory:

World Wide Web
The ASCII, HTML, PostScript versions are available from the Speculative Fiction Clearing House on the Thule Web Server:

Subscription requests can be sent to Please specify ASCII, PostScript, or announcement subscription type.

America On-Line
The ASCII and PostScript versions are available in the Etext/Ezine section of the PDA Forum.

Physical Mail
The paper version is available by paid subscription. The cost is US$8/year (4 issues). Sample copies are $2.50. Please make checks payable to "John Leavitt."

If you have any suggestions for other sites that might want to/be willing to/be appropriate to carry Omphalos, please let me know. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 1994 Omphalos Magazine

Last updated 17-May-94 by John Leavitt (