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On Spec 82

1/07/2011. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 22 no. 3 # 82 Fall 2010 in the USA - or Buy On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 22 no. 3 # 82 Fall 2010 in the UK

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On Spec: The Canadian Magazine Of The Fantastic vol 22 no. 3 # 82 Fall 2010. magazine: Copper Pig Writers Society. 130 page illustrated A5 magazine. Price: $ 6.95 (CAN). ISSN: 0843-476X. Distributed in Canada by CMPA and the UK by BAR.

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Here is another fine collection of short stories, editorials and interviews from the non-profit Copper Pig Writer’s Society of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, proving once again that not everything good comes from market forces.

In a future where bombs are the most popular means of self-expression, Kari is a useful mutation for the bomb disposal squads. When blown to bits, she can reassemble herself, rather like Doctor Manhattan of Alan Moore’s 'Watchmen', though she lacks his other abilities. She is also immortal. Of course, she can’t do all the work in such a busy industry and having feelings for her short-lived colleagues causes her pain. Kari’s dark secret, lifestyle issues and work are well presented by S.A. Bollich in ‘An Infinity Of Moments’, an original and interesting tale.

There’s another mutant in ‘Burning Things’ by Shane Michael Arbuthnot. Nathan doesn’t enjoy being on fire because it means the ordinary kids don’t like him. He could bully them like the other human torches but he doesn’t want that neither. I found this notion a bit too fantastical and, like Nathan’s new friend, Abby, a bit wet.

A Gnostic sect hires a band that plays free, improvised music because they feel it is the art that most accurately reflects their beliefs. Music and religion are intriguingly combined in Michael Kaler’s ‘At The Here ‘N’ Now’ by an author who seems pretty well versed in both.

There’s a slightly different slant on religion in ‘When Jack Colliander Died’ by Ian Donald Keeling. Evan, our narrator, discusses atheism and infidelity over coffee and cake with the Angel who came to Jack’s funeral. The portrayal of the Angel may not be correct but God is accurately described and so are human beings, who really are completely illogical.

‘Sky Falling’ by Catherine Knutson has a woman under siege by a harpy and the suspense as she fights for her life builds up nicely. The many short scenes make it a bit disjointed but to be fair this is probably inevitable when conveying a long time period in a short story. ‘Water Breaks’ is a short-short by Catherine Macleod about a fetus that won’t go away, which is what happens when you sleep with a Necromancer. A ghastly narrative but it should be horrible given the subject. Joanna Russ threatened to beat the crap out of Phillip K. Dick when he wrote ’The Pre-Persons’ a story about abortion. It’s an emotive issue.

Space Pirates, of all things, feature in ‘The Bottle’ by Ian Rogers which is refreshingly space operatic for these times. Given the cost of spaceships, the unlikelihood of crewing them with cutthroats liable to steal them and the vast distances over which they would need to operate, space piracy is quite a far-fetched idea. It’s not economically viable but it is fun. This yarn about a ‘magic’ bottle, a loyal robot and a vicious pirate captain is original and oddly sentimental. Loved it.

‘Axioms + Ecstasy’ is by T.T. Trestle who is this issue’s interviewed author. Both the interview and the story were interesting but regrettably the former gave no information on what the latter meant and I was unable to discern it with my own wits. There is a voluptuous woman who can give men multiple orgasms by touching them. There is her daughter’s boyfriend, David Jurat, who is obsessed with order and mutters mathematical theorems to keep calm. His serenity fails under her spell. I enjoyed the story despite the lack of a clear explanation at the end.

‘On Spec’ never fails to deliver an interesting mix and this issue is no exception.

Eamonn Murphy

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