Congrats to all the Hugo Winners!

On Spec sends its congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the Hugo Awards. Several of us were at last year’s ceremony, and watched as the voters showed their disapproval of the attempt to hijack the process with a slate of “puppy-approved” nominees. While last year, perhaps “no award” was all we could do in most categories, this year’s winners deserved the prize, and showed that the fans have a much stronger voice than the people who want to destroy the Hugos.


Diversity and excellence in the genre won last night. Congratulations to all.

Another Successful WWC in Calgary

Several of On Spec‘s editors were at the annual When Words Collide festival of genre fiction writers and readers , held at Calgary’s Delta South hotel over the weekend. There was a stunning array of panel discussions, and a host of talented writers, editors and creators. It gave us a chance to reunite with old friends and meet some new ones. And Randy McCharles and his crew of volunteers continue to give us one of the best events in Canada for writers and readers to connect.

During a podcast interview on Sunday, I was (mildly) taken to task for neglecting to push On Spec as much as possible in the area of social media. We always say that we depend on our readers and writers to spread the word about On Spec, but it’s also our responsibility to ensure there are opportunities made to encourage this. Once thing the interviewer (and we’ll post a link when it is available on the web) pointed out was that we seldom really push for new donors to our Patreon campaign. We are grateful for the monthly gifts from our supporters, and currently we receive approximately enough each month to buy a story and a couple of poems. But that support has not grown at all in many months.

In a perfect world, with a combination of subscription and sales and ad revenues, plus Patreon donors, and individual gifts, we’d have enough to sustain On Spec for many years to come, and allow us to make actual plans, rather than constantly scrambling to make ends meet. As shown by past events, we cannot depend on government funding forever.

So with that in mind, I am once again reaching out to people who have shown some interest in On Spec, by subscribing to this list. If you are at all interested in ensuring On Spec‘s continued existence, over and above paying lip service, we’d be ever so grateful if you either subscribed, made a gift of On Spec to your local library or high school, or dropped a dollar or two a month to help us through Patreon. The links are available on our website. You could also make a one time donation by cheque or PayPal.

And do use every opportunity you get to tell people about our magazine. Don’t assume that everyone already knows about us. If you’ve ever had a story, poem or artwork in On Spec, please remember that we’d love to post a photo showing you holding up the issue(s) your work appeared in.

A new issue of On Spec has recently gone to our designer, so once the design, proofing and printing is done, it will be in the hands of our subscribers. We will likely open to new submissions of fiction later in the fall.

Our next appearance will be at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo in September, and we also look forward to organizing some Edmonton events for writers and readers in a partnership with the good folks at Variant Edition Comics & Culture during the winter months.



On Spec at VulCon 2016!

We’ve been looking at our schedule and suddenly July is nearly upon us!

What in the world is a person to do with July?  There are the usual festivals with parade and such, family BBQs and camping, and shopping, sightseeing, visiting with friends, going to a museum, and meeting celebrities, artists and the warmest “locals”!

Yes, you could do ALL of those things in one great place–Vulcan, Alberta on July 9-10, 2016.  You could be in one of the most wonderful small towns in Alberta that weekend for VUL-CON–a Star Trek gathering with other sorts of extravaganza things to do and see!

On Spec will be there for the second time. We went last year and had an amazing time.  Small crowds meant we had some super quality time with artists, vendors of all kinds (including the ladies who had so many great knitted items with logos of our favourite superheroes, the local animal shelter, a life sized Spock, and SO much more!

In town there’s the Trekcetera Museum–more than just Trek and the collection is fabulous.  Costumes and memorabilia galore!

Spend some time at the Trek Station information centre and marvel at the solar panelled structure that powers it.

If this sounds like an ad for the town of Vulcan, the Trekcetera museum and the Vul-Con convention, you’re right.

The people are warm, friendly, and have all the best parts of being a small town. We love Vulcan.

On Spec will be there July 9-10, 2016 having a blast!




Farewell to a Real Mensch: R.I.P. David G. Hartwell

News of the tragically accidental death of David G. Hartwell left the SF writing and publishing world reeling with the shock.  I first learned about his accident from a brief post on Facebook on the evening of his fall, and realized that any chance of recovery was slim. Yet we continued to hope. It’s no exaggeration that I had trouble sleeping that night, and equal difficulty concentrating on anything the following day.  Our SF family was sharing in the vigil. Wednesday night, after my weekly community choir practice, I immediately checked my phone’s Facebook app to see the sad news of David’s passing. Even when I’d expected the news, reading the words on the screen made me feel like I’d been hit with a blunt object.

Almost immediately, the tributes to this amazingly intelligent, noble, always charming, kind and generous man began to appear on personal blogs, websites and all manner of social media. Some people had been lifelong friends and professional colleagues, and others may have had just a brief encounter with David when he stopped by to visit their dealer table at a convention, to chat about the genre they both loved.

I knew David casually, and was constantly in awe of the fact that he actually knew who I was. He always showed a professional courtesy to me and my On Spec colleagues as fellow editors, and that meant a great deal.  Some famous folks will only give the time of day to other famous folks. David was not one of those. When he spoke with you, he engaged with you fully, and was happy to be there in the moment, and not looking at his watch to see how quickly he could leave to go see someone more important.

David was, as they say, the genuine article.

Yes, he knew about On Spec.  In fact he became a champion of Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy literature at a time when our little writing and publishing community was just beginning to spread its wings. He read the review copies of On Spec that we sent him, occasionally selected one of our stories for his annual “Honorable Mentions” list in the “Year’s Best” anthology, and above all, he paid attention to what our home-grown writers were saying. And when he edited their work he made sure he brought them to the attention of the rest of the world.

David wasn’t a writer, but he sure made writers look good.

I saw David at last year’s World Science Fiction convention in Spokane, and like the rest of us, assumed there would be many more conventions before he hung up his plaid jacket for the last time.   He will be missed.

Podcasts for Writerly Types

I love winter. Any excuse to stay inside and read a good book is a good excuse, and winter delivers. Cold, snow, biting winds…no thank-you! Give me a comfortable chair, a mug of something hot, and a good book to curl up with any day.

But with Canadian winters providing such an extended period of excuses, there are times (brief, horrifying times) when I don’t have a book at hand. And that’s when I turn to my podcasts about, what else, writing and books. There are a plethora of literature oriented podcasts out there. Whatever the genre you’ll find a podcast or six to entertain and spark your imagination.

For those new to podcasts, I’ve chosen three of my favourites to get you started. Even if you’re a podcast aficionado I hope at least one of these will be new to you, and deliver hours of entertainment. I’ve linked to their websites, but all of these are available through iTunes if you want to subscribe.

WriteReads – WriteReads is “a Canadian book club podcast that will change the world of literature forever.” A bold statement, but given how many books I’ve personally picked up based on their recommendation, they might manage to pull it off. Hosted by Kirt Callahan and Tania Gee and produced in On Spec’s home town of Edmonton, the duo list the books they’ll be reading on their website. Listeners are encouraged read the monthly selections and take part in the discussion. But even if you don’t read along, the podcasts are highly entertaining and informative. There is always something wonderful in listening to passionate people talk about the thing they love, and it’s clear that Kirt and Tania love books. That alone makes it worth listening to, and it’s almost icing on the literary cake that you also get smart critique and great book recommendations.

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff – This crosses the streams for me a little bit, as it could be argued that Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff is primarily a table-top gaming podcast. And while that is the reason I started listening, I think it safe to say you’ll get just as much from the episodes as a writer, even if you never go near a gaming table. Robin D. Laws and Kenneth Hite are both well-published authors as well as game designers. When they discuss role-playing games, what they are really talking about is story construction. And they talk about it so well, you can ignore fussy little details like what media is involved. I highly recommend listening for the wealth of story ideas this podcast generates; you may never run out of inspiration again, especially if your writing tends to the odd and macabre.

Sword & Laser – The longest running of my three suggestions, and with good reason, Sword & Laser is hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. Each episode features lively discussions about news in the world of sci-fi and fantasy (not always related to literature), interviews with authors, and the podcast also runs an ongoing book club to foster a sense of community. Community building is actually one of the stated goals of the podcast, and they seem to be doing a great job. I recommend tracking down the video episodes when they were part of the Geek & Sundry Network on YouTube and giving those a watch. They had a lot of fun with them, and you can continue to watch snippets of interviews and such on their YouTube channel. Probably the best general-purpose podcast for both staying on top of news in the SF&F world and discussing the books you love.

Okay, that’s three of mine. If you’re new to podcasts I hope this gives you many entertaining hours and leads you on to more. If you’re already immersed in the podcasting world, what are some of your favourite writerly podcasts? Drop them in the comments below.

Aurora Winner!

We at On Spec are thrilled to have the “Aurora Winner” image on our website for the coming year. At the award ceremony held at Toronto’s SFContario6 on November 22nd, 2015, the prize for Best English Related Work was accepted on our behalf by the Aurora Awards Administrator, Clifford Samuels.

We are also thrilled that artist Dan O’Driscoll won for his cover art with both On Spec and Bundoran Press.

We at On Spec want to thank the loyal readers and supporters who  both nominated and voted for us once again. We will do our best to continue publishing a magazine worthy of your support.

Congratulations to our fellow nominees and to all the winners.

2015 Aurora Award Winners


Subscriber Update

To our subscribers,

Recently we were dismayed to find that Canada Post had returned 30 copies of our Spring 2015 issue, rather than delivering them to the subscribers. It appears to be completely random, and the address labels have absolutely nothing wrong with them, so we are investigating this issue with our mailing service. The copies will be re-posted as soon as possible.
Diane Walton, Editor-in-chief

The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic

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