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On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 16 no. 4 # 59 winter 2004/2005

01/07/2005. Contributed by Donna Jones

author pic

Magazine: Copper Pig Writers Society. Price: $ 5.95 (CAN). ISSN: 0843-476X. Distributed in Canada by CMPA and the UK by BAR.

check out website: www.onspec.ca

'On Spec', from time to time, do these wonderful themed issues of the magazine. This time the focus is turned to addictions and quite cleverly so. It's not filled from cover to cover with the normal drug, drink and sexual addictions we all might immediately think of.



'...And a Pony' by Kate Riedel is a perfect example. Think of an individual who can take memories like pills, only their addiction can be fulfilled when the host of those memories dies. That's pretty much the concept behind this short. Brilliantly executed and a pleasure to read, it starts you thinking as to what other addictions that are really out there may befall man and his existence.

'The Scaffold' by Ian Creasey talks about taking a pill to instil faith in the divine. From a Benedictine principle, the character is constantly questioning his faith and taking a pill as a cure-all seems to fit in nicely in a world where pill-popping magic wands are to be craved. I would say here that we all know that that is an unreasonable expectation to make. However, it's an assumption that is made by most of us when we walk into the Doctor's office with some cold or other.

My favourite story of them all has to be 'Angelic' by John Unruh. The story of the four angels that are consumed by an addiction to take from believers, The Gland. In a way the very fact of the scenes of horror got me gripped from word go but what kept me reading was that all was kept to the mysterious side of disclosure. You have an idea what's going on and you understand that these angels are lost to Metatron.

It's only when you get to the end that you suddenly realise that while they are wanting to be more human, they are also wanting desperately to get home. I loved it, written with an eye for subtlety which keeps its reader totally hooked, it made for an expertly written short story. A real gem.

As always, the quality of the stories was high. I can't actually believe that such a magazine hasn't seen more exposure, because the quality of the writing far outshines anything else you can get your mucky paws on. In fact I'd insist you get your mucky paws on any 'On Spec'! I've never been disappointed by what I've read. Consistently 'On Spec' delivers on the quality of its fiction. Don't be discouraged by the old saying that consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. 'On Spec' could never fall foul of a lack of imagination by any means.

The front cover of this one is beautiful. As always I wish that 'On Spec' could feature more full colour artwork within its pages, but sadly that seems unattainable. Maybe a future development would involve a move to this though? I can live in hope!

I can't fault 'On Spec' at all. For that reason, I guarantee anyone willing to give it a try that you will not regret it. Maybe you'll regret not buying it sooner, though?

Donna Jones

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