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On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 19 no.1 # 71 Winter 2007

01/10/2008. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy On Spec in the USA - or Buy On Spec in the UK

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magazine: Copper Pig Writers Society. Price: $ 6.95 (CAN). ISSN: 0843-476X. Distributed in Canada by CMPA and the UK by BAR).

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Here's another little booklet from The Copper Pig Writing Society of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, opening this time with two feminine fairy tales. 'Daytime' by Sarah Carless is about a human woman, Mae, taking a baby centaur out onto the grassy plain to be united with his own kind. A pregnant woman turned up in Mae's village and was killed when the inhuman child slid 'kicking and screaming from her womb'. Presumably sexual relations with a centaur, either voluntary or involuntary, were involved nine months before. Mae is charged with feeding and caring for the little tyke until she can find centaurs to take him away. Meanwhile, she becomes attached to him. It's an odd little piece but I liked it.

'Pressina's Daughters' are three fairies who killed their human father and are cursed for it by their mother. Imprisoned in various ways, each depends upon some human knight coming to their rescue. Angela Slatter's story is written in an old-fashioned narrative style, not much dialogue and is as harsh and cruel as any traditional fairy tale. Again, nicely done.

Our Lord's second coming is the story behind 'Re-Annunciation' by Nancy Chenier. That Joseph fellow would hardly be necessary in the twenty-first century but there's another twist, too. Good fun.

I am not especially fond of sea stories so 'Sea Change' by David K. Yeh had an uphill battle. It won by presenting a strong character with a lot of dignity and the human determination to go to Hell in his own handcart despite the best efforts of some damned Asimovian android. The alien world and its fauna were well depicted, too.

'Controlled Release' by Greg Wilson is a sort of update of 'Pickman's Model' by H.P. Lovecraft, with computer games taking the place of paintings. I liked the idea but I disliked - no, I hated - the style in which it was written with the narrator addressing the protagonist. 'You were used to lying by the time you met Jamie' and so on. I don't know who invented this infernal method of telling a story but I wish it would go away, forever.

'Widow's Walk' by Bruce Barber had a 'surprise' ending that might have worked well in a woman's magazine but in a Science Fiction magazine you can see it coming. It was nicely written, though.

All the stories are well written, even 'Controlled Release' allowing for its detestable narrative style. I remain delighted by the quality output of The Copper Pig Writing Society and I wish we had something similar in the UK. They produce interesting, entertaining Fantasy/SF short fiction that manages to be definitely modern but without resorting to obscurantism and despair. Long may they continue the good work.

Eamonn Murphy

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