Great Canadian science fiction

I just finished reading the latest issue of On Spec magazine (I often have a magazine going at the same time as whatever book I’m reading.). On Spec is probably Canada’s best-known speculative fiction magazine (edit: Actually, Chizine might be better known, being a SFWA-qualifying publication and all; unfortunately I tend to forget about Chizine because I’m not sure I’ll ever write a horror story under 4000 words – they also publish good stories, though!). It’s mostly a print magazine, but you can also buy a slightly cheaper electronic subscription, or single issue. The website is here. If you live in Canada, I think they have some newstand distribution; if you live in the US, you might be able to find copies at a convention.

I guess I should tell you why you’d want to buy copies or even a subscription to On Spec before telling you how! I’m always impressed by the quality and diversity of the stories they publish, and the Summer 2010 issue is no exception. (Did I say the same thing about Sybil’s Garage? Well, it’s true about On Spec, too. Just because I repeat myself doesn’t mean I’m not sincere.)

My favorite story was Greg Wilson’s “Still”. It wouldn’t do the story justice to say simply that it’s about a young wooden puppet who runs away from home after being molested by her music teacher. It is about that, yes, but it doesn’t try so hard to be an allegory of real abused children that it loses sight of the puppets whose story its telling; nor does it trivialize the suffering of real children. And it manages to find a happy ending, albeit a bittersweet one.

I also really liked Rob Engen’s “Thanks for the Game,” about interstellar aliens who land in Manitoba and learn to play hockey. It’s a much more interesting story than you might think, based on that one-sentence description, even if you’re not a Canadian or a hockey fan!

And, being a chemist, I couldn’t help but love Susan Forest’s “The Right Chemistry”, about the stormy relationship of the two bonded atoms in a molecule of oxygen. It’s full of chemistry puns that are so bad they’re good.

One thing I noticed, looking at the cover: some magazines put the names of the best-known authors appearing in that issue in big print, whereas lesser-known writers might not have their names appear on the cover at all. Not so with On Spec! Everyone’s name is the same size, and all the authors are listed in strict alphabetical order. I like that.

My own story, “The Observation Deck” (a flash fiction space opera–or, as someone from my writers group put it, a space aria) should be coming out in On Spec sometime next year. I’m looking forward to it; I’m sure I’ll be published alongside some really great authors.

American and international authors will be pleased to hear that, although the three authors I’ve mentioned are all either Canadian or live in Canada (as far as I can tell from their bios), and On Spec does make a point of publishing at least 80% Canadian content, there were some Americans in this issue, as well. And they just started accepting online submissions, so you no longer have to try to find IRCs, or have your friends in Canada mail you Canadian postage.

Get published in Canada, eh?

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One Response to Great Canadian science fiction

  1. I’ve seen copies of On Spec available at some American newsstands, too.

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