Yesterday the sad news broke about the death of beloved author Terry Pratchett, at age 66. On Spec wishes to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Pratchett’s friends, family, and colleagues.
Terry Pratchett is perhaps best well-known for his series of Discworld novels, encompassing one of the most unique settings in fantasy literature, with a cast of characters to match. More than that, Mr. Pratchett used his world to turn a critical eye on our own. His work was skilfully rendered satire, drawing our attention to some unfortunate facet of society.
I’ll leave you with my favourite passage from Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms, by my favourite character, Sam Vimes. Best speed, Mr. Pratchett; I hope you’ve found your Discworld after all.
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
Yesterday morning, the world became a little less bright with the passing of beloved actor, director, and artist, Leonard Nimoy. Or, as I and many thought of him (with his encouragement), Honorary Grandpa Leonard.
I speak for the entire On Spec team when I say our hearts and thoughts go out to his friends and family, and we join millions of fans world-wide in sharing this loss.
There are going to be many, many tributes to Leonard Nimoy in the next little while, by people who knew him better and are much more qualified to speak to his impact on the world. And if I’m honest, I’m still processing the loss and can’t really think of what to say myself.
So I will simply say, from everyone here at On Spec: Live long and prosper, Grandpa Leonard. You’ve returned to the stars.
This is an update to our most recent fiction submission period. Some of you have been asking (and rightly so) about the status of your stories. While you can log in to Submittable and see the latest information, including editor comments on declined stories, you were promised a response by the end of November.
In a perfect world, that would be so. We accepted submissions of stories for our regular issues as well as for the upcoming theme issue of “punk” stories. With the few resources we have, we chose to concentrate on the punk submissions first, and so those ones have been selected. We will now move on to read the submissions in the other batch of manuscripts we received.
Each story can take 20 minutes to half an hour of an editor’s time, just for the first reading. And we have approximately 200 stories to read. That’s a lot of person-hours. So we appreciate your patience as we move through this long process.
As 2014 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year, and to look ahead to a fresh year, with so many possibilities. I’m pleased to report that we have achieved some form of financial stability in spite of the drastic cut to our 2015 grant funding, and we are grateful to those sustaining patrons who sent us money, and to those who continue to donate. With careful management, we can get through the coming year. And remember how easy it is to donate through Patreon and show your support.
We want to continue to bring our readers even more challenging and interesting fiction, art and poetry, and to show the world that Canadian writers thrive. Speaking of the world, please support us by subscribing to the digital version of On Spec, and do let your friends and family in countries outside Canada know just how easy it is to be reading On Spec within a few seconds.
In the coming months, we’ll be making further enhancements to the website, and adding new and engaging content. If you are interested in volunteering for On Spec, we hope to have a new database set up, so prospective volunteers can send us their information, and we can put them to good use. We will also be looking at new stories to develop for the On Spec Teacher Toolkit Series. If you know a teacher, let them know about our comprehensive teaching aid for “Space Monkeys”, a story that appeared on the pages of On Spec. Other projects will be announced as the year progresses.
We’ll be at several conventions and book events in the coming months, and as always, we look forward to meeting with our authors, artists and readers. Also be sure to look for our friends and colleagues with Tyche Books, and buy a copy of the On Spec 25 year anthology.
My deepest thanks to all my On Spec family–editors, staff, proofreaders, designers– and to all the creative artists who have placed their work in our hands over the years. I wish you all success and good fortune in the coming year.
The editors and staff of On Spec are gratified by the show of encouragement from our readers and friends in the months since we learned of our current financial difficulties. The good news is that, for now, we are on an even keel, and we’ve been able to reduce spending and increase savings in a few strategic areas, without sacrificing the quality of our magazine or its contents.
On Spec will continue to publish.
Grants are never assured, and we have been fortunate until now. But grants are not enough. It’s the ongoing support of our readers that keeps us going. So at this time of the year, when you are looking at your holiday shopping list, please consider a gift of a subscription to On Spec for the readers in your family or in your circle of friends.
You can buy a paper subscription, or a digital one, and it really is a gift that continues to give pleasure to everyone who reads it.
Monthly contributions to our Patreon sustainability campaign will always be most welcome.
On Spec loves it when one of its authors gets this kind of recognition. Tyler Keevil has won the $10,000 Journay Prize for his story, “Sealskin”, published in The New Orphic Review.
Tyler’s story, ‘Canine Court’,was published in Volume 24, #2 of On Spec Summer 2012, and his haunting tale, ‘Masque of the Red Clown’ was in our Spring 2008 issue. If you are interested in seeing “Canine Court”, you can buy a digital version of the issue at Weightless Books.
On Spec is a continuing sponsor of local sci-fi festival Pure Spec. As such, we were part of the festivities this past weekend and I have to say, a good time was had by all. We were especially happy to spend
time with Author Guest of Honour David Gerrold, who took time out of his tireless panel schedule to stop by the booth to say hello.
We’ll have other Pure Spec highlights soon, but we thought we’d post some tidbits for you now.
If you were at Can-Con this year you might have attended a reading by four of our authors, as they read their On Spec pieces for an adoring crowd. If you didn’t make it to Can-Con or that reading, you’re in luck! Thanks to Rob and Geek TV over at Geek Inked Magazine you can watch each of the authors read their work. You could even grab your copy of On Spec and read along. (Don’t have a copy, you say? Let me help you…)
Thank-you to Agnes Cadieux, Kate Heartfield, Anita Dolman, and Mike Rimar for getting together on this reading and exposing On Spec to an appreciative audience. Thank-you as well to Can-Con for putting us on the program, the support is much appreciated.