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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.

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


Joël Champetier- Canadian SF Has Suffered a Major Loss

The whole family at On Spec wishes to express our deepest condolences to friends and family of Quebec SF author, Joël Champetier, who passed away Saturday May 30, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Joël was an award-winning author, and longtime editor of Solaris, a highly-respected Canadian French-language SF magazine.
For more information, go to the Locus Magazine Obituary for Joël.

Special Offer For Writers

Are you a writer? Or do you know someone who is? If so, here’s your chance to pick up eleven books in one bundle that teach how to be a writer and to build a writing career. Books written by established pros, best sellers, and award-winners. And you can also get a 40% discount on Jutoh, the best software available today for producing professional quality ebooks, the tool used by the top indie authors.

For a limited time, StoryBundle is offering “The Write Stuff” ebook bundle, curated by the award-winning, multi-genre author and editor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

The price is right, too. You only need to pay a minimum of $5 to get the initial set of six titles in The Write Stuff bundle: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer, Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, , Playing the Short Game by Douglas Smith, Making Tracks – A Writer’s Guide to Audiobooks by J. Daniel Sawyer, Rejection, Romance & Royalties by Laura Resnick, Business For Breakfast – Vol 1: The Beginning Professional Writer by Leah Cutter

If you pay at least $15, you’ll get another five books, plus the code for 40% off Jutoh: Break Writer’s Block Now! by Jerrold Mundis, Writing Horses – The Fine Art of Getting It Right by Judith Tarr, The Write Attitude by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pitfalls of Writing Fantasy by Vonda N. McIntyre, 30 Days in the Word Mines by Chuck Wendig,

And don’t worry about what kind of ebook reader you need–you get multiple DRM-free formats (both .epub and .mobi) for all books.

The Write Stuff bundle is available for a very limited time only. This offer expires at midnight on June 4, 2015. So go to right now to get this bundle and kick start your writing career.

Plus, Douglas Smith is offering a free copy of the bundle to a lucky On Spec subscriber. Just tweet about it (with the StoryBundle link above) and include our twitter handle (@OnSpecMagazine) and Doug’s too (@smithwritr), and we’ll draw a winner from tweets over the next week. 

Welcome to new followers

Welcome to those of you who have chosen to subscribe to our blog! Your interest is appreciated.

Our new issue has just been printed and is in the mail to subscribers. The digital version will also soon be available. We look forward to your feedback.

We’d also like to know what you’d like to see on our website to enhance your experience. Send us an email or use Facebook for your comments to I Read On Spec.

Also, the Patreon campaign continues, and we will need your support to get through the coming year. Every dollar counts toward the goal of sustaining On Spec.


Message to Writers

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.
The Editors

Best Wishes for 2015!

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.


Diane Walton

Managing Editor

When you think of Holiday gifts, think of On Spec

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.

Congratulations to Tyler Keevil, winner of 2014 Journey Prize!

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.