Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
On Spec is part of the Copper Pig Writers’ Society and also puts Canada on the map for fantasy and sf literature. The magazine is laid out into three sections; fiction, non-fiction and feature. Stories, eight in all are a mix of fantasy and sf and some that blur the edges. There are three non-fiction pieces and two features of worth.
On Spec is divided into three categories, fiction, non-fiction and feature. In the fiction section there are eight stories from notable Canadian authors, Kevin Cockle who is a frequent contributor to the magazine; in the non-fiction these pieces are editorial of interest as are the two features, poetry from Emeniano Somoza and Michelle Chen. There is a fair mix of sci-fi and fantasy in this issue, but the quality of the storytelling is there in each one. In the editorial, non-fiction, About Whitefoot and Me, Barb Galler-Smith takes readers back to when she started Grade 2 at school and got placed in the “slow readers” circle as she couldn’t read very well. Then came an old book, Whitefoot the Woodmouse she identified with and from this brief encounter, her mother signed her up for a mail-order book club. The tale proves that even for the most difficult beginnings, a true writer can be honed. Roberta Laurie conducts an interview with Ashley Mullins in Love Letters of Home, and Cat McDonald hosts an interview with this issues cover artist, Joel Hustak. Here he tells us more of the cover art, Tree of Duality.
The Fiction section is what readers want for the most, I presume and I have to set off with one that instantly caught my eye; A Clockwork Barista by Kevin Cockle where Colin goes to work only to find Café Oggi not just closed, but closed for good and within minutes online Colin reads his status as unemployed. Though this is in the future, a status such as Colin’s can be viewed by others online and meant no one wanted to chat with him as being unemployed meant that person could go rogue. In this future, vehicles aren’t driven by people, though some prefer it and even in the non-internet world, his wife and friends want nothing to do with him. It is a strange concept but one that has a layer of truth to it about being in an online generation. In Liminar by Christine SR Jackson, Amelia works at the Home for Fantastic Beasts that houses many unusual creatures, a unicorn and a liminar who Amelia has grown fond of, but realised there is something she has to do before she regrets it.
The weird and wonderful are highlighted in On Spec to be enjoyed anywhere in this slim volume that always surprised me for having so much in it.