In 1989, a small group of Edmonton writers formed The Copper Pig Writers Society in order to fill a niche in Canada–a paying market for English SF.
SF with a uniquely Canadian Perspective. Of course this perspective is often defined by what it is NOT– fiction expected by the average American audience. At least at the time when On Spec launched, Canadian writers of excellent short fiction were being turned down by the bigger markets because they simply did not fit the mold. They were too “alien”.
After selling out our initial print run of a test issue filled with stories sent to us by invitation (several of us were part of Canada’s active “Fannish” community, and so we knew these writers personally), we began receiving inquiries as to when the “next one” would appear. That was a very long time ago. Editors have come and gone, and we are proud of their significant contributions to Canada’s literary scene.
Our little quarterly journal, On Spec adheres to a strong mandate that has served us well over the years. We discover and showcase quality works by predominantly Canadian writers and artists, in the genre we call “Fantastic” literature. We foster the growth of emerging writers in this genre, by offering support and direction through constructive criticism, education, mentoring, and manuscript development. We try to publish as many new writers as possible, alongside works by established writers, and we also endeavour to support these writings with innovative cover art for every mind-bending and emotion-provoking issue!
Bear in mind that we are not exclusively Canadian, even with a bias toward our own country’s writers. As soon as we opened to digital rather than paper submissions of manuscripts, the floodgates were opened, and we have found some amazing writing talent far from our own shores.
We love to get to as many events as we can, and you can often find an On Spec table in the Dealer room of your regional or national convention (come by the table and say “Hi”). Some day, we do hope that in-person conventions are as commonplace as they once were.
Editorial Staff of On Spec
Lareina Abbott is a Métis writer and mother who writes speculative fiction and memoir. Her stories have a tie to the spiritual and natural world, and to ancestry ,as she believes that these connections are how we will heal as a people and reclaim what has been previously lost. She originates from a cattle ranch in northern British Columbia but currently lives and writes in Calgary on Métis Local 87 and Treaty 7 territory.
Ashley Alton is an Honours English student at Edmonton’s MacEwan University. She has experience with the student-run Bolo Tie yearly anthology. She has over 500 volunteer hours with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Isaac Calon has been proofreading On Spec for several years. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, and “kids”, and he recently realized his adventurous side extends only to his taste buds.
Mya Colwell is a third year Professional Communications student at MacEwan University.
Barb Galler-Smith resides in Edmonton with her fabulously supportive husband, John. She’s been an editor with On Spec since 2008. She loves short stories, especially funny SF, has written a bunch of short SF stories, and is co-author of the historical fantasies in the Druids Saga trilogy (Druids, Captives, Warriors).
Dan Gyoba is a lifelong science fiction fan and enthusiast. His hobbies span from DIY electronics to auto mechanics. He has has a passion for martial arts, and holds black belt rankings in karate, iaido and kendo, and is currently active in the Edmonton kendo club.
Matthew Stobie Jackman is an Atlantic Canadian living in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a BA in English literature from the University of Toronto.
Brent Jans is the nerdy guy who manages this website and On Spec‘s social media. He also runs Edmonton’s annual Pure Speculation Science Fiction and Fantasy festival.
Constantine Kaoukakis , born and raised in Montreal, has interests which include comic books, Sherlock Holmes, Greek mythology, Doctor Who, British murder mysteries, and literature. He is a founder of The Wisteria Lodgers, the Sherlock Holmes Society of Edmonton. Constantine also edited the first issue of the Copper Pig Society’s mystery and suspense magazine, Sleuth.
Alyssa Kulchisky has always had a passion for F&SF. She served as peer editor for Grant MacEwan University’s undergrad journal, Muse.
Jerry LePage is an Edmonton based 3D artist, technical game design specialist and Unity developer.
Celine Low holds an MA in Research in English Literature from the University of Singapore, where she wrote her Master’s dissertation on the intersection of contemporary architecture and literature and her undergrad dissertation on Tolkien. Her poetry, fiction and art have appeared in The Fiction Pool, 9Tales From Elsewhere, Sky Island Journal and The Temz Review, among others.
Susan MacGregor has been an On Spec editor for over two decades. She has edited three anthologies, Divine Realms (Ravenstone Press, 1998), Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales and Tesseracts Twenty-Two: Alchemy and Artifacts (Edge Fantasy and Science Fiction, 2011 & 2019). Her short fiction stories have been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including On Spec, Northern Frights V, A Method to the Madness, Equus, Arcana, Urban Green Man, The Dame Was Trouble, and others. Her trilogy, The Tattooed Witch, The Tattooed Seer, and The Tattooed Queen, was originally published through Five Rivers Publishing in 2013, 2014, and 2016, the first book of which was short-listed for a Canadian Aurora award. Her non-fiction primer, The ABC’s of How NOT to Write Speculative Fiction, is currently in its third, revised edition.
Jade Mah-Vierling holds a BA and MA in English Literature. In her thesis, she explored mixed race identity formation through various modes of life writing.
Ann Marston, has worked as a teacher, flight instructor, airline pilot, airport manager and literacy coordinator. Her Rune Blade trilogy and her Sword in Exile trilogy have been re-released by Five Rivers Publishing,
Ashlin McCartney, a winner in our second “Youth” themed issue, is one of our eagle-eyed proof-readers.
Cat McDonald, has published her writing in Tesseracts 15, and Here Be Monsters, and has also worked as On Spec‘s designer, and copy-editor. She does the interviews with our cover artists.
Krystle McGrath holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in English. Ever since her mom lovingly told her to “Put down that book and go outside and play with your friends!”, she pretty much involves herself in anything that allows her to read and hear people’s stories.
Cheryl Merkel was born in Edmonton and now resides in Dartmouth NS (across the harbour from Halifax for you out-of-province folks) with her cat/supervisor Leo. She has held various jobs in health and aviation and is the proud possessor of a Master’s degree in Health Informatics. She loves reading and writing SF/fantasy and is totally chuffed at being part of the On Spec team!
Virginia O’Dine, of Prince George, B.C., works as a freelance editor and writer. She founded and ran Bundoran Press for several years before handing it to Hayden Trenholm. She also tells us that she has a flair for stand-up comedy. She has served as a juror for the Sunburst Award, and has had short fiction published by Neo-Opsis and Tesseracts.
Kat Phul is a student of English and Creative Writing at MacEwan University in Edmonton. Her CV also includes playwrighting and dramaturgy.
Thomas Schwarz is an English major in his last semester of study at MacEwan University. He has published short stories in the Bolo Tie anthology, and is currently working on his first novel. Outside of writing, Thomas has experience teaching English as a foreign language in Nagasaki, Japan, where he also attended university for a semester.
Diane L. Walton has been with On Spec since the beginning, and has served as Managing Editor for longer than she cares to remember.
A.J. Wells is a freelance writer and editor, also working on her first novel. She resides in Edmonton.
Jess Zdril (she/they) is an English major, avid anime watcher, and a proud cat mom. Her days are spent staining her hands with coffee grinds and chatting her friends’ ears off, all the while collecting hectic scribbles that may one day become sentences, or maybe even stories.
Ethan Zou is a student at the University of Alberta with a love of the strange and psychological. In his spare time he can be found stealing affection from his roommate’s cats.
How to Contact On Spec
Just complete the information on our Contact page, and we will respond as soon as possible. Just remember, we are all volunteers, so replies may take a day or two.
Back Issue Information
We sell copies of some of On Spec‘s recent back issues at in-person events but no longer take orders for specific issues in the old inventory. If you’re looking for something published within the past two years, you can certainly ask. We’ll charge the cover price plus postage to mail older issues to you. Also, there are a number of back issues of On Spec now available in several digital formats on the Weightless Books site.
Our Subscriptions page gives information on how to order digital copies of many of these issues.
You can get information on the stories and the writers we have published over the years. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database maintains a listing of every On Spec back issue and its contents, among the many other such listings the site maintains. It’s a great place to start if you need to research something from On Spec‘s past.