Category Archives: On Spec Updates

Dave Duncan, 1933-2018

The leading story on the Table of Contents for On Spec Vol. 1 No 1. tells it all.

“Boy at Heart”, a work of short fiction by Dave Duncan.

His bio note in that issue said:

DAVE DUNCAN lives in Calgary, Alberta. He is the author of the fantasy novels, Shadow, A Rose-Red City, and the epic and quirky Seventh Sword Trilogy. He reports that, for a change of pace, his next two books, West of January, to be released in August, and Strings, due out early next year, are both science fiction. “Boy at Heart” is his first published short story. 

Dave’s prolific writing career began after he retired from his first career as a petroleum geologist. He worked tirelessly, even after suffering some mild strokes in recent years, and more than 60 books bear his name on their covers.

When we were thinking of starting On Spec, we put out a call to our fellow members of Canada’s SF community, asking them to take a chance on this upstart magazine by sending us a story to publish. Dave could have graciously declined the request. He was already widely-known as a novelist, not a short fiction writer. But he sent us a story, nonetheless. We will always be grateful for his trust.

Since Dave’s tragic death, many of his fellow writers have written of their long friendship and professional association with Dave. He was a regular guest at regional SF conventions; he was always happy to give of his time and knowledge; he was always ready to help a writer who needed advice. Dave was probably one of the most generous souls we’ve ever known.

Fare thee well, Dave. You were a fine man to call our own.

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On Spec Issue # 108 Reviewed

Take a look at the new review on Britain’s SF Crowsnest by Eamonn Murphy.

Also, here’s a reminder that SF Crowsnest is an awesome compendium of all things geeky. We can’t say enough good things about them. After you’ve read the review of our issue, stick around a while and explore SF Crowsnest!

On Spec # 108

In case you missed it, Issue #108 , Volume 29 No 1 is now available in both print and digital formats.  You can order your print copy by contacting us at onspecmag(at)gmail.com, or using the links on the Subscribe page of the web site.

Digital copies of this issue and others are available from Weightless Books, and this is a reminder that you can also set up a subscription there, and get your new copies sent to you automatically.

In this issue, you’ll find the first work of published fiction from our former editor, Robin S. Carson, plus an essay on writing  “Dark” fiction by Calgary author Sarah Johnson. A.J. Wells gives us an interesting discussion on the use of  “tragedy porn” in The Last Jedi.

New fiction comes to you from Timothy Reynolds, Sean Robinson, Allison Floyd, Marcelle Dubé, David Versace, Chris Kuriata, and Lisa Carreiro.  Poetry from Mark McCutcheon.

Editorial by Barb Galler-Smith on the dilemmas we may face as readers, when our idols prove to be more flawed than we are perhaps comfortable with.

Cat McDonald and Roberta Laurie bring us their interviews with cover artist, Bill Tracer, and featured author, Tim Reynolds.

Do not go gentle…

The editors and staff at On Spec are heartbroken to learn that Harlan Ellison passed away this morning. Our condolences go out to his family and to his many loyal friends. He will be missed and mourned by generations of readers and writers who have admired him, learned from him, and on occasion, even fought with him.

RIP Kate Wilhelm

News has reached us of the death of Hugo  and Nebula Award-winning author, Kate Wilhelm on March 8, 2018. Our condolences go out to her friends and family.

She leaves behind a remarkable body of work, as well as many colleagues in the SF&F family who benefited from her teaching and mentorship over the years.  Kate was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2003) for her lifetime contribution to the genre. She will be missed.

We get submission queries

We were recently asked about our 6,000 word limit for stories. Yes, we have published longer stories over the years, but those were few and far between. Because we are limited to a certain number of print pages over the course of the year, we had to make an arbitrary decision concerning a story length cut-off. It also affects our pay rates, since we don’t pay per/word the way some magazines do.

That doesn’t mean we have closed the door on novellas, for example. After all, it’s our party and we can do what we want to. We’ll just be very selective.

And in the meantime, if you have a story that falls in the “about 6,000 words” category, please give it a long and hard look before you hit that submit button. If your first 3-5 pages is bogged down with back-story, for example, chances are good that the first reader won’t even make it to the end. Your job as a writer, first and foremost is to maintain the reader’s interest.

Make every word count!